Dan Campbell: Lions Plan to ‘Start All Over’ With Key Offensive Weapon in 2023

Dan Campbell

Getty Dan Campbell coaching the Lions against Minnesota in 2022.

The Detroit Lions have a talented backfield, but one of the key questions that has been plaguing many outside the organization is what to do with D’Andre Swift.

Is Swift a player the team has to bring back, or is he someone that they could move on from with injury concerns and contract decisions coming soon like T.J. Hockenson? It seems the answer is in on that front courtesy of Dan Campbell.

Speaking at the NFL combine on Wednesday March 1, Campbell was asked about Swift, and the coach was an open book in terms of admitting the fact that the team needs to step up and find a way to help him stay healthy and on the field on their side.

As Campbell explained, Swift is a talented runner who does everything right and suffered from some tough injury luck more than anything else last season.

“We tried to take care of him in camp. He is a very talented player. He’s one of those guys that can take it to the house anywhere on the field. He works, he wants to get it. He works hard in the classroom and we thought we had a recipe going into the year and it didn’t work out. He got a little bit banged up and then by the end of the year, he started to feel better and his production went up,” Campbell said to the media.

This past year, Swift put up a total of 931 all-purpose yards and eight total touchdowns. That was notable given he only played in 14 total games with eight starts. Health had a lot to do with that, but Campbell seems to think the Lions can help that side of things by simply starting over with the player.

“We’ll start all over from scratch again. Let’s find another way to see if we can help him stay on the field and already know he’s doing that for himself. We’ve got to do that on our end, what can we do better by him? Because he’s just he’s too talented to not have out there. He’s an explosive athlete,” Campbell admitted.

Right now, it doesn’t seem as if Swift is going anywhere, which could mean the Detroit backfield is close to being set for 2023 with the potential return of Jamaal Williams. Campbell and the brass seem to like Swift, and believe in him for the future.

Now, the biggest challenge will be seeing what the plan is and finding a way to make it work for all parties involved.

D’Andre Swift Finished 2022 Season Strong

Campbell is right that Swift’s best performances came later in the year. With 117 total yards and two touchdowns, Swift was a big reason the Lions were able to dominate Chicago 41-10 in Week 17.

Perhaps his biggest score of the day was his second one on second-and-nine in the third quarter. The ball was slung to Swift, and he put on some nice moves and got into the end zone for the 38-10 lead.

Early in the game, Swift ran the ball to the left side on first down and took the ball in to give Detroit a quick 14-10 lead in the game.

Swift showed he can be a difference maker for the Detroit offense in this game, and perhaps be a big reason that the Lions’ offense is evolving into one of the more dangerous units in the entire league.

Keeping him on the field and healthy helps to show what he can do. It seems Campbell and the Lions understand the potential he has for the future.

Lions Running Back Room Has Offseason Questions

So what happens at running back? Already, it sounds as if the Lions will have a deal with Williams soon. After that, it seems Swift will be sticking around to offer the team their solid one-two punch.

It had seemed the Lions would soon be approaching time to either decide to keep Swift around on a new deal, or decide to move on relative to how inconsistent he has been with regards to health and games played in his past. Right now, though, it looks as if the team is ready to play things out with him for 2023.

Beyond that, the team has questions at the third running back spot. A good way to keep Swift healthy is to have yet another ball carrier that can shadow him. Justin Jackson did a nice job with that in 2022, posting 271 total yards on 42 touches and two touchdowns. Craig Reynolds, a revelation late in 2021, is still on the roster as well.

Whether the team chooses to bring in a draft pick or a free agent will be very interesting to note. At the very least, it seems as if Swift will remain a key puzzle piece moving forward.

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