FIRST DOWN: SWIFT START
Running back D’Andre Swift would certainly prefer a team win over individual success any day of the week, but there's no denying his start to the season. The Lions dropped their season opener, 38-35, to the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday, but Swift's performance helped keep them in it until the end.
Swift took his first carry of the 2022 season 50 yards to set up an opening touchdown on Detroit's first drive, and he finished with 144 rushing yards on 15 carries for a 9.6-yard average per rush with a touchdown. He also caught three passes for 31 yards to give him 175 yards of total offense in Week 1.
"Execution upfront was phenomenal," Swift said after the game. "The receiver blocking downfield was phenomenal, made my job easy."
Swift became just the sixth player in franchise history to produce a 100-yard rushing game in Week 1. He joins Barry Sanders (1996) and Steve Owens (1972) as the only Lions to do so in a home game.
Swift, who had a really good training camp, showed Sunday why the Lions think he can be one of the better three-down backs in the league.
"Look, Swift is one of those players that we have –we've got some good players, but Swift is – he's a dynamic player for us and he's the one guy that can take it anywhere," Lions head coach Dan Campbell said. "He can take it to the house from anywhere on the field and I'm glad he's ours."
SECOND DOWN: WALKER'S EJECTION
The Lions' defense needed a couple plays from their defense late in the game to get the ball back to the offense for a chance to tie or potentially win the game late. It certainly would have been nice if they had their leading tackler from a year ago, safety Tracy Walker, on the field.
Unfortunately, Walker was in the locker room because he picked up two personal foul penalties on the same play in the third quarter. First, he hit a sliding Jalen Hurts high and late for a personal foul penalty, and then he threw a punch at an Eagles player after a scuffle ensued because of the hit.
"Well, it's not good," Campbell said. "Tracy got kicked out because of a second penalty, alright? Which is unacceptable and he knows that. That's not OK. And that's not what we're looking for because that's how you get beat and those guys know that."
Walker was voted a captain and is considered a team leader, but it's hard to lead from the locker room.
"I just let my team down," Walker said after the game. "Me, as a team captain, I've just got to be better. I was hot-headed at the moment, and like I said, I've just got to make better decisions at the end of the day."
THIRD DOWN: DEFENDING HURTS
Campbell said after the game it was on him and the defensive coaches to better prepare the defense to handle the dual-threat capabilities of a quarterback like Hurts, who threw for 243 yards, but also rushed for 90 yards and a score.
The Lions weren't able to contain Hurts in the pocket all game, as he was able to scramble for multiple first downs, including a few big ones on two third and longs, and a fourth a goal.
"I think we've got to put that on us. I've got to put that on me," Campbell said. "We didn't have them prepared for him because he hurt us. I mean, you take away his rushing and I mean, we're probably pretty good defensively or much better I should say."
Detroit's first-team defense had some of the same issues in the first preseason game against quarterback Marcus Mariota and the Atlanta Falcons, so it's a little concerning.
"It was more of the pass, drop back, scramble situations that we weren't able to contain him," linebacker Alex Anzalone said. "Obviously, that was a focus and a point of emphasis this week, so we've just got to figure out how to be disciplined and our rush lanes and where the help is in coverage situations and get it cleaned up."
The good thing for the Lions' defense is they don't face a dual-threat quarterback like Hurts again for some time, probably until Justin Fields and the Bears in mid-November.
View photos from the Philadelphia Eagles vs. Detroit Lions Week 1 game at Ford Field on Sunday, Sept. 11 in Detroit, MI.
FOURTH DOWN: RUN GAME
There are two main staples Campbell wants his football team to have. They both involve the run game.
Campbell wants to be a tough, hard-nosed run offense that sucks the defense up and opens the play-action pass game behind it.
Campbell had to be pretty proud of that aspect of Sunday's game. Detroit rushed for 181 yards and three touchdowns, while averaging 4.5 yards per carry. That against an Eagles defense that was Top 10 in the NFL last year against the run.
On the flip side, Campbell wants to feature a defense that can stop the run and force teams to be one dimensional, which has proven tougher to nail down 18 games into his tenure as head coach. The Lions ranked 28th against the run last season, allowing on average 135.1 yards per game on the ground.
Detroit's defense allowed 216 yards rushing to the Eagles Sunday, for a 5.5-yard average and four rushing touchdowns. The Eagles converted a 4th and 1 with a run up the middle right into the teeth of the Lions' defense to seal the game.
Detroit needs to find a way to be better defensively against the run, but they should feel pretty good about the start from the run game on offense.