PHILADELPHIA -- For all the star power on the Eagles' roster, it was running back D’Andre Swift who elicited the strongest fan reaction as he walked off the field and into the tunnel earlier this month following a home win over the Minnesota Vikings.
“Go number zero!”
Right tackle Lane Johnson was walking beside him and clapped his hands in response, then slapped Swift on the back.
Swift’s return home could not have gone better. The Philadelphia native erupted for a career-high 175 rushing yards and a touchdown on 28 carries to charge a 34-28 victory.
The reaction inside the locker room was just as strong.
“He’s amazing, man,” said receiver DeVonta Smith. “He a bad motherf---er.”
Nearing the quarter mark of the season, Swift has been one of the most impactful backs in the game. He enters Week 4 ranked second in rushing yards (308) behind only Christian McCaffrey (353) and is tops among backs who have rushed at least 20 times in yards per carry (6.8). His stats are all the more impressive considering he touched the ball just twice in Week 1 against the New England Patriots.
Operating behind one of the best offensive lines in football, Swift’s full potential is being unlocked, and he’s quickly turned into a critical player on a team hunting for its second straight Super Bowl appearance.
“Expectations? I didn’t know what the expectations were going to be, to be honest with you,” Swift said of his return to Philly. “I just made my mind up that I was going to come in the building every day and work. That’s the mindset still.”
Swift, 24, was acquired from the Detroit Lions in late April for a fourth-round pick in 2025 and a swap of seventh-round picks. He became available after the Lions selected Jahmyr Gibbs out of Alabama 12th overall in the draft two days earlier.
The Eagles were in the market for a new back after Miles Sanders signed a four-year, $24 million deal with the Carolina Panthers in free agency, and pounced when the opportunity to land Swift presented itself. They had seen the kind of damage he could do on the field first-hand, as they watched him go off for 175 total yards in the Eagles' season opener against Detroit in 2022.
Swift’s burst and elusiveness were on display this summer, but the Eagles also have Kenneth Gainwell, Rashaad Penny and Boston Scott on the roster and had planned for more of a running back by committee approach, with the caveat that they would ride the hot hand. They leaned on Gainwell in Week 1 against New England (14 carries, 54 yards) while Swift received just one carry for three yards.
A rib injury sidelined Gainwell for the Vikings game and opened the door for Swift.
He followed that up with a 16-carry, 130-yard rushing performance on "Monday Night Football" in a 25-11 Eagles win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The highlight was a 26-yard scamper in the third quarter in which he hurdled Antoine Winfield Jr. in the open field to extend the play. The excitement among his teammates was obvious. Left tackle Jordan Mailata raised his fist in the air. His old high school teammate at St. Joseph’s Prep, receiver Olamide Zaccheaus, pumped his arms and greeted Swift with a helmet bump when Swift rose to his feet.
“I was right behind him when he hurdled that dude and that got me going," tight end Dallas Goedert said. "That was pretty sweet.”
“He has been a big-time player for us,” quarterback Jalen Hurts added. “To see him jumping over guys -- I don’t know if I’ve seen that in a long time. But, he’s kind of marking his territory, I feel like, with that and he is pushing everyone else around him. We just need him to keep playing great ball.”
The running game has been essential to the Eagles’ 3-0 start. Defenses have been making it tough on Hurts and the passing game early, throwing out unexpected looks and flooding the zone to limit options and explosive plays. Philadelphia currently ranks 23rd in passing (198.7 yards per game).
The ground game, meanwhile, is averaging 185.7 yards per game, good for second behind the Miami Dolphins (188.3). And Swift is making up for some of the big plays the passing offense is lacking: he has three runs of 20-plus yards already on the season, tied for second-most behind only James Conner of the Arizona Cardinals (4).
Swift still has to prove he can sustain this level of play over a full season. Various injuries during his three years in Detroit affected his consistency. And his competition isn’t going away: the plan is still to incorporate Gainwell in the offense a good bit.
But Swift is healthy for the moment, and he’s running behind a front that has been opening enormous holes for him to speed through. He’s playing for his hometown team after being let go by the Lions for next to nothing, and he’s in a contract year. He does not have to search far for motivation or opportunity.
“He can make you miss when you get out in the open field. He can jump over you, he can spin on you. So, there are a lot of different ways he can create once it gets past that initial push,” coach Nick Sirianni said. “The offensive line has got a good push and he's been able to create. That's a good recipe for your run game when you have both of those.”