Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Lions Stock Watch: Why RB D’Andre Swift crashes over the course of the season

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The Detroit Lions remain on the hunt as the season progresses, and if they’re to continue hanging around on the periphery of the playoff race, they’ll need to find more big wins.

Luckily, there are plenty of players who should be helping them with this, and as the team gets a bit healthier, more reinforcements could be on the way in the coming weeks.

So where are things at the moment in stock watching? Here’s a look at a quick restart after Thanksgiving and a tough loss on the field that gave plenty of hope.

Aside from the Detroit Practice Squad, where did James Houston come from? The rookie Edge was a force in his first game on an NFL roster with two sacks and a humble approach, leading to some excitement about what might lie ahead for the youngster.

If there’s one thing the Lions have been missing this season, it’s a dynamic and consistent presence from the edge. Now that he’s on the roster, it will be interesting to see if Houston can keep the momentum going forward. If he does, it could be huge for the Lions and their draft class.

Yes, it’s true that D’Andre Swift continues to produce touchdowns for the Lions in a limited role recovering from injury. It’s also true that he should do a lot more with the opportunities he gets.

In week 12, a piece summed this up. Swift was targeted in the red zone as the Lions drove late in the third quarter. He huffed and dropped a pass that would have been a safe touchdown near the goal line. A few games later, the Lions bricked a short field goal. In a tight game that made a big difference.

Swift has to make big plays every time he touches the ball, and a drop in crunch time may have done nothing to prove he needed more feeding. While he’s still productive, his overall inventory is declining, especially as Jamaal Williams continues to slam the ball and Justin Jackson offers the Lions plenty as a runner and pass catcher.

Fans may not like Alex Anzalone for some of his struggles, but the fact of the matter is the veteran has been a stable presence for the Lions this year at one of the weakest points on the roster overall.

Anzalone was solid for the Lions when he netted his first interception of the season in Week 12 and he will likely continue to see more opportunities to be productive in the long run. Other players might have better stats, but Anzalone has been reliable for the Lions this season. There’s a lot to be said for that.

Stock down: Austin Bryant, edge
Detroit needed players to rush the passer, so Austin Bryant was useful this season. The biggest problem of late has been his stupid rough-up of the passerby’s call that cost Detroit a late touchdown against Buffalo.

Bryant will continue to see time, mostly because the Lions need bodies up front. Could Houston surpass him now? It’s more than possible given that Bryant hasn’t racked up the sacks this year and made a poor impression with a penalty in Week 12.

For most of this season, the Lions haven’t seen DJ Chark be a big factor, largely due to nagging injuries. That all changed a bit on Thanksgiving Day with his 16-yard rush and one touchdown.

This stat line probably won’t have many people jumping up and down, but it does prove that Chark is starting to work his way back into the conversation as a featured offensive weapon. The Lions were missing those through injury so it will be interesting to see if Chark can do something with his newfound momentum.

It seems important to note that the Lions aimed for a very wide-open chark on Thursday’s critical run of play. In the coming weeks, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him in the end zone a lot more, or at least hitting goals.

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