For the past few years, the Detroit Lions have utilized a timeshare in the backfield. Last season, the most productive and explosive member of that timeshare was then-rookie D’Andre Swift.
Despite playing only 38% of the team’s offensive snaps, Swift carried 114 times for 521 yards (4.6 per attempt) and eight touchdowns, and also added 46 receptions (on only 57 targets) for 357 yards and two additional scores. That’s 160 total touches at an average of 5.5 yards per touch, with 10 all-purpose touchdowns. Quite a debut season.
Alas, the new coaching staff felt compelled to bring in former Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams to complement Swift in the backfield. New offensive coordinator (and former Los Angeles Chargers head coach) Anthony Lynn has talked up Williams this offseason, specifically noting his size and physicality.
In recent days, it’s been rumored that the Lions could bring in yet another back. Former Los Angeles Rams and Atlanta Falcons runner Todd Gurley visited Detroit last week. Gurley leads the NFL in rushing touchdowns since he entered the league in 2015, but he’s also coming off back-to-back ineffective seasons — the first of which led to him being released by the Rams and the second of which has left him still without a job deep into the offseason.
Nevertheless, the now-second-year back, Swift, would be all for adding Gurley to his position group. “I’d be happy if he came here as well,” Swift said, per USA Today. “I just want to compete with these guys. Just to have him in the building, that’d be good.”
Perhaps Gurley could work as the team’s short yardage back, given his apparent nose for the end zone, but it’s tough to imagine him being more effective than either Swift or Williams at this stage of his career, given the various injury issues that have hampered him since his back-to-back All-Pro seasons in 2017 and 2018.