JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Free Press sports writer Dave Birkett looks at three Detroit Lions players who helped their stock and three who hurt their stock in the 34-16 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
I’ve called for Swift to get a bigger share of the running back work the last few weeks, and the Lions finally obliged — and had to like what they saw. Swift ran for a career-high 116 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. He showed explosiveness, breaking a 54-yard run on his first carry, and some unexpected power, running over Josh Jones on one third quarter rush. Adrian Peterson and Kerryon Johnson still deserve roles on offense, but Swift is the player the Lions need to feature in their backfield.
DE Trey Flowers
Consider Flowers a representative of the pass rush as a whole, because even though the Lions had just one sack Sunday, they got consistent and disruptive pressure on Gardner Minshew. Flowers’ sack, his first since Week 1, came late in the first half when he blew past Cam Robinson and knocked the ball out of Minshew’s hand for a fumble the Lions recovered. The Lions have had little success pressuring the best quarterbacks on their schedule under coach Matt Patricia, so a few more performances like Sunday’s out of Flowers will go a long way toward making this defense respectable again.
With so much focus on Jeff Okudah’s inconsistent play this season, it has been lost just how good Oruwariye has been in his first year as a starter. A fifth-round pick out of Penn State in 2019, Oruwariye had another solid game Sunday, when he had two pass breakups and was rarely challenged by Minshew. On one third-quarter play, when the Jaguars threw deep to try and answer a Lions touchdown, Oruwariye ripped a catch out of D.J. Chark’s hands to keep Jacksonville backed up in its own territory.
Prater is now 9 of 12 on field goals this year, with all three of his misses coming from 55 yards or longer. There’s no shame in missing long kicks, and given the state of kicking in the NFL, the Lions will gladly take Prater’s accuracy on tries inside 50. He has had plenty of distance on each miss, going wide left from 57 yards Sunday and wide right on previous tries of 55 and 57 yards. But at some point, the Lions will have to weigh the risk-reward of trying long kicks and realize it might not be worth the trouble.
OG Joe Dahl
This is less about how Dahl played Sunday than it is the role the Lions had him playing in. In his first game back from injured reserve, Dahl, the Lions’ starting left guard most of last season, played as a backup. To be clear, that was the right move. Tyrell Crosby played well in his four-game cameo at right tackle, and the Lions have to see what they have in Halapoulivaati Vaitai after signing him to a five-year, $50 million contract in free agency. Ultimately, Dahl played plenty Sunday as Crosby and Vaitai left the game because of dehydration. But when it comes to the starting line going forward, Dahl could be odd man out.
WR Marvin Jones
It might be time to admit the Lions have a one-man receiving corps. Jones has been a steady performer, when healthy, for the Lions over the years, but in his age 30 season, in the final year of his contract, his numbers have fallen dramatically. Jones is a crafty player who does a lot of important things, such as the pick he set on the rub route on Matthew Stafford’s touchdown pass to T.J. Hockenson on the goal line. But after a two-catch, 8-yard performance Sunday, Jones has just 14 catches for 146 yards — a career-low 10.4-yard average — on the season.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions have a new feature back: D'Andre Swift