When your leading rusher hasn’t topped 650 yards in six years and you haven’t had a thousand yard rusher in seven years; you take all the help you can get. The Lions thought they were getting that when they burned a premium pick on Kerryon Johnson just a couple years back. He is very talented and looks the part when he’s on the field; which hasn’t been very often. That very well may be the primary reason for taking D’Andre Swift in the 2020 NFL Entry Draft-with yet another premium pick. Like Johnson, this kid looks the part from a talent perspective and the hope is that he is the long term answer at running back for the Lions; however, he is dealing with a leg injury of his own right now.
Enter, Adrian Peterson. There was some interest between AP and the Lions a few years back but it ultimately didn’t come to fruition. Now (after being cut by Washington) Adrian Peterson has signed a one year deal to join the Lions. There are positives and negatives from this; albeit any negative that I could find were fantasy related versus the actual game on the field. With the injury issues at the position, having a competent running back that is capable of getting between the tackles and moving the chains will benefit the long term viability of both Johnson and Swift. All due to respect to Bo Scarbrough, he isn’t the player that AP is, even at AP’s advanced age. We can only speculate what sort of mentorship will be provided but it certainly cannot hurt to have one of the best running backs of this generation in the meeting room.
A largely overlooked aspect of this will be the impact of Offensive Coordinator, Darrell Bevell. His impact on the Lions offense will be explored in a later piece but the reunion of he and Peterson, can only help the aging running back get the most out of whatever he has left in the tank. While two of the three most successful seasons in his career came after Bevell left Minnesota, he was highly successful working within that offensive scheme registering his second highest yardage total and highest touchdown total (single season) of his career.
The truth of the matter is AP isn’t likely to repeat past successes (despite leading his team in rushing with nearly 2000 yards, the last two seasons) but the hope for Lions fans (and presumably the Lions franchise) is that he can provide enough on the field-and in the meeting room-to have a lasting impact this season and beyond.