The Philadelphia Eagles escaped with a Week 1 victory, but one of their key players was notably limited in the offensive game plan.
Running back D’Andre Swift was one of the Eagles’ high-profile additions during the offseason after he was acquired during a draft day trade with the Detroit Lions. The versatile back was acquired with the expectation he would be the starting running back; however, that wasn’t the case in the team’s opener against the New England Patriots.
Swift had just two total touches for the game, including just one carry for three yards. Meanwhile, Kenneth Gainwell emerged as the team’s go-to running back in Week 1, carrying the ball 14 times for 54 yards.
Head coach Nick Sirianni addressed the questionable lack of touches for Swift following the Eagles’ 25-20 victory over the Patriots.
Nick Sirianni Explains Eagles’ Usage of Running Backs
Sirianni further explained why the Eagles leaned on Gainwell while using Swift sparsely. It’s worth noting that Rashaad Penny — who was also a high-profile addition prior to the trade for Swift — was inactive for what would have been his debut with the team.
“There was a number count, I mean you saw that I don’t ever want to come out of a game where D’Andre Swift has only two touches either,” Sirianni said after the game. “Those three guys [Gainwell, Scott, Swift], they dressed and so like I said with Boston to have four backs up when Boston and D’Andre both only had one carry, we’ve got to play that number game.”
Why Eagles’ Lack of Use for D’Andre Swift is Surprising
Although Swift was injured for a number of games in Detroit — he missed 10 games across three seasons — he was efficient and versatile when he was on the field. While splitting the offensive backfield with Jamaal Williams and Adrian Peterson, Swift averaged 4.6 yards per carry and amassed 156 receptions over the past three seasons.
Swift caught 62 balls during the 2021 season, ranking fourth among all running backs. Despite seeing reduced playing time during the 2022 season in comparison to the previous season — 42% of offensive snaps compared to 67% — Swift still ranked 12th among all running backs in receptions. Swift’s 6.3 yards per touch ranked 10th among all players last season.
The Eagles didn’t have much success running the football in the game, averaging just 3.9 yards per carry as a team. The lack of efficiency in the running game could lead to Philadelphia giving more of an opportunity to Swift moving forward. However, it’s worth noting that Philadelphia leaned heavily on Gainwell as the postseason wore on last year.
In fact, Gainwell carried the ball 33 times for 181 yards (5.5 yards per carry) during last year’s playoffs while the starter, Miles Sanders, carried the ball 35 times for 148 yards (4.2 yards per carry).
Considering the 24-year-old Gainwell is in the midst of his third season with the franchise and when factoring in that Philadelphia allowed Sanders — who was a Pro Bowler last year — to walk in free agency, the Eagles may simply consider Gainwell higher on the depth chart than Swift.
Philadelphia will play their Week 2 game against the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday night. In other words, we’ll see real quickly whether Swift’s Week 1 showing was a fluke or something to expect for the rest of the season.