Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell knows and has acknowledged the team is undergoing a massive rebuild. Yes there are current players who could and should make it out of the rebuild still with the franchise. Offensive Tackle, Taylor Decker, Tight End, TJ Hockenson, Center, Frank Ragnow, and a few others should all be Detroit Lions after the rebuild. So should running back D’Andre Swift, who gives the Lions a legitimate threat running the ball.
Ever since Barry Sanders retired from the NFL in 1999, the Detroit Lions have been a graveyard for running backs. Enter D’Andre Swift who was selected by the Lions in the second round of last years NFL Draft.
D’Andre Swift is blessed with serious speed and playmaking ability. As a rookie Swift had 511 yards, while he accounted for 878 yards overall and scored 10 touchdowns, Swift also averaged 4.6 yards per carry for the season.
Swift gives Lions head coach Dan Campbell and new Offensive Coordinator Anthony Lynn a player who looks ready for a bigger role next season. Dan Campbell has made it clear he likes a run-first offense. A running back like Swift gives him an immediate impact player at the position his offense is said to revolve around.
While he was an offensive coordinator before being head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers, Anthony Lynn also preferred a run first offense. When Lynn called the offensive shots for the Buffalo Bills he used the run 55% of the time to 45% pass. Lynn did not call offensive plays has a head coach.
With the aforementioned Taylor Decker and Frank Ragnow along with the Detroit Lions best and most consistent linemen Jonah Jackson who was a rookie last season as well, the Detroit Lions offensive line is in good shape going forward.
D’Andre Swift in a run-first offense has the ability to become a break-out player for the Lions as soon as next season. Even during a rebuild. The Lions will need to find another running back to help manage Swift’s workload.
But going forward the Lions are in pretty good shape at running back.
Embed from Getty Images For the Michigan State Spartans, a program that has long prided itself on running the ball they have struggled to do that recently. Last season in rushing offense the Spartans were right around 124.8 yards a game finding consistency was a significant reason. Connor Heyward’s 157 yards in the win over Maryland was the only 100-yard rushing game of the season. That’s the only time a Mark Dantonio coached team at Michigan State has managed just one 100-yard game from one of its backs.
Brad Salem was the running backs coach when Le’Veon Bell was rushing for 1,793. Salem spent the last six seasons as Michigan State’s quarterbacks coach. Salem is now returning to leading the running backs as part of the staff shuffling that also saw Salem become the Spartans’ offensive coordinator.
Last season senior LJ Scott missed all but five games with an injury, forcing Connor Heyward, in his first season starting at running back, and freshman La’Darius Jefferson, a high school quarterback, to try to move the ball on the ground.
Heyward showed enough, leading the Spartans with 529 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns while averaging 4.5 yards a carry. This season Elijah Collins, now a redshirt freshman, joins the mix at tailback.
Connor Heyward is sure he can become the go to ball carrier in Salem’s new offense, one that has yet to be revealed to the fans and media. However it shakes out with starter and depth chart, the Spartans need more productions for the teams ball control offense.
There is no telling this early in fall camp what the Michigan State depth chart looks like, or if it rotates to give every back a shot with the first team. The Michigan State Spartans also need better production, more consistency and better health from the offensive line.
In a week or two we should have a better feel from what the Spartans depth chart will look like heading into the 2019-20 College Football season.
Embed from Getty Images The Detroit Lions needed to upgrade a woeful running game. In day (actually night two) of the 2018 NFL draft they got a player who can help. A lot.
Kerryon Johnson, drafted out of Auburn University is a smooth runner. He also hits holes quickly. Johnson also is not afraid to lower his shoulders into would be tacklers.
The Detroit Lions, have lacked a bruiser at tail back for some time. Kerryon ends that search. He may also end the playing days of Ameer Abdullah . That is not a bad thing.
Kerryon Johnson, can step in from day one and be an impact back in the Detroit offense. Taking pressure off of quarterback Matthew Stafford. The Lions, may have just pushed the franchise closer to a championship.
One thing that Johnson, must work on is taking a hand off a go straight into a forward leaning run position. There were times while at Auburn Kerryon Johnson, stood straight up and down and took a beating behind the line of scrimmage.
Over all this is an outstanding pick by Detroit general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia. The Detroit Lions, offense is now better balanced with the addition of first round draft pick center Frank Ragnow, and now running back Kerryon Johnson.
Kerryon can handle a heavy work load. He is a solid pass blocker and although he wasn’t asked to catch the ball much out of the backfield. When call upon he delivered.