The Detroit Lions may have lost again in Week 1 of the NFL season, but this time, the team didn’t look completely overmatched by the competition.
Nearly every time the Philadelphia Eagles looked like they were going to pull away, the Lions ensured they were never able to do so with a good response on offense. In the end, Detroit lost 38-35, but managed to fight until the last few plays of the game.
The reason that happened? It might be their new offensive coordinator Ben Johnson according to NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger. After the game, Baldinger gave Johnson a shout-out for the plays he drew up, especially with running back D’Andre Swift as his muse.
“Lions are for real! They got a great offensive mind in new OC; Ben Johnson. Very creative in the run game vs a powerful DL of the Eagles 35 points on Sunday; last year they scored 6!,” Baldinger tweeted.
It was a sentiment that Baldinger echoed in the video breakdown as well, where Baldinger told Lions fans they have a solid mind coaching the offense.
“Listen to me, Lions fans, listen to me. You got yourself a great offensive coordinator in Ben Johnson (with) the things he did in the run game,” he said.
Specifically, Baldinger pointed to a few run plays, namely one on fourth down that the Lions were able to open up.
“Look at fourth and one. Look what this Ben Johnson is doing. Why is T.J. Hockenson over the left tackle? Why is Swift over here? What formation is this? Fourth and one, it’s all or nothing. Hockenson gets the block and Jonah Jackson walking Swift into the end zone. This was a good looking offensive game plan. It was just one good play after another,” Baldinger said.
Detroit scored the third-most points in the NFL this week, and showed that they are a team to take seriously moving forward. While Philadelphia is solid, the Lions will be able to give plenty of teams their best shot with efforts like this.
A big reason in the end may well be Johnson, the new offensive coordinator.
Swift Hypes Potential of Lions’ Offense
Detroit was able to move the ball to the tune of 396 yards, and much of that came as a result of the play of Swift, something Baldinger notes in his breakdown.
Swift, who’s been chasing a healthy, complete season for a while, showed up in a big way for the team, offering a tantalizing look into what he can be this season. From the first play of the year throughout in Week 1, Swift was dynamic touching the ball.
As a whole, the offense was fairly good as well. So how good can the Lions be in the runner’s opinion? As he explained to the media after the game, the ceiling is high.
“As good as we want to be. It’s the little stuff. Can’t spot them seven, can’t play from behind coming out from the half. It’s the little stuff. We’ve got to get back to work,” Swift explained after the game.
While the Lions had 386 total yards and Swift accounted for 175 total on his own, there were a lot of positives across the roster. Jamaal Williams rushed for two touchdowns, and DJ Chark pulled in a late catch for a score, and Amon-Ra St. Brown found the end zone.
Those weapons could be a big reason Johnson has success much of the year with his group.
Dan Campbell Praises Swift as Lions’ ‘Secret Sauce’
If the Lions are to reach their ceiling this year on offense, Swift and the running game will be a big reason why.
Detroit head coach Dan Campbell knows this, which is why he went out of his way to praise Swift on Monday, September 12 in the media. Asked about Swift, Campbell didn’t hold back in his praise.
Campbell called Swift some of the “secret sauce” of the team, and most specifically, the offense.
“It goes without saying Swift is special. We know that, and so just getting him his touches, because he’s kind of the secret sauce there. He can turn a routine plays into explosive plays that will hurt you if you’re the opponent,” he said.
With Swift and the ground game as the secret sauce and plenty of other beef and toppings elsewhere, there’s no telling how good the offense could taste by the end of the year.
Baldinger seems to think the Lions are on a yummy trajectory early in 2022.
READ NEXT: Hunt Report: D’Andre Swift Hype Looks Legit