July 5, 2023   4 MIN READ

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2023 Season Preview Series: Primed For Breakout

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(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third story in a series by Inside The Birds’ Geoff Mosher and Andrew DiCecco previewing the 2023 Philadelphia Eagles season. In Part 3, they name their breakout performer for 2023).

Follow the whole series:
Part 1: Most impactful rookie
Part 2: Biggest second-year player impact

D'Andre Swift

GETTY IMAGES: The Eagles traded for D’Andre Swift to spearhead a deep group of RBs.

Andrew DiCecco: D’Andre Swift

When Miles Sanders and his 1,347 scrimmage yards bolted for Charlotte in free agency to join the Panthers, many pondered the Eagles’ contingency plan.

The team’s longstanding philosophy in allocating moderate investment to the position should have always tempered expectations as far as retaining Sanders, but surely one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses wasn’t about to enter the season with just oft-injured Rashaad Penny and incosistent Kenny Gainwell helming a new-look backfield.

After wrangling 24-year-old upstart D’Andre Swift in a surprise draft weekend trade with the Lions, the Eagles’ vision came into focus.

To be sure, Swift’s injury history helped expedite his departure from Detroit. However, few would argue that the Philadelphia native is one of the league’s premier runners when healthy.

A compactly built 5 foot 8, 212 pounds, Swift figures to head a committee that also includes Penny and Gainwell. The theory here is that a healthy rotation limits wear-and-tear, preserving him for what’s poised to be a crucial stretch run.

Unlike his predecessor, Swift is adept as a receiver, an aspect of the offense in which perhaps new coordinator Brian Johnson might tap into for a new dimension, in essence keeping his quarterback out of harm’s way.

Lethal in open space, Swift gives a high-octane Eagles offense a home-run hitter who can take it the distance on a given play. The depth accompanying Swift on the depth chart should only increase the likelihood of the enigmatic runner reaching his full potential.

D'Andre Swift

GETTY IMAGES: New Eagles RB D’Andre Swift is poised for his best year yet.

Geoff Mosher: D’Andre Swift

Remember this: The breakout performer for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2023 will be running back D’Andre Swift.

Acquired via trade with the Lions on Day 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft, Swift has already shown that he has Pro Bowl-caliber talent. He scored 10 touchdowns as a rookie. In Year 2, he eclipsed 1,000 yards from scrimmage. Last year, he averaged 5.5 yards per carry.

But behind the Eagles’ offensive line, and as expected leader of a committee, Swift will watch his stats and production soar in his fourth season.

Pencil him in for more than 1,200 yards from scrimmage and double-digit touchdowns, at very least.

The Eagles didn’t give up a fourth-round pick for Swift to have his role reduced and his impact limited. Sure, he’ll have to battle it out against a bunch of good running backs, including Rashaad Penny, Kenneth Gainwell and perhaps Trey Sermon.

Health, of course, is always a question as Swift has never played more than 14 games in his career.

But the ingredients to breakout – perhaps his first Pro Bowl year – are there, from the star-studded offensive line clearing his lanes, to Jalen Hurts’ rushing acumen forcing defenses into a mathematical disadvantage, to prolific passing game weapons who can help keep the box light.

Swift’s pass-catching ability also gives new offensive coordinator Brian Johnson an added dimension that last year’s offense lacked. He can be lethal in the screen game and the perfect safety valve for Hurts when the defense is trying to limit the Eagles’ downfield attack.

Smith has four career 100-yard rushing games, one of which came against the Eagles in last year’s season opener, when he totaled a career-best 144 yards.

Don’t be surprised if he matches that total in 2023 alone.

– Geoff Mosher (@geoffpmosher) is co-host of the “Inside the Birds” podcast and Senior staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com. Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.

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