The Lions may have gotten an excellent dollar-for-dollar value in all of free agency.
Running back Jamaal Williams joined Detroit on a two-year, $6 million deal, only $3.25 million of which was guaranteed at signing. New Lions offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn seems to think that Williams will become the primary tailback in the team’s new attack.
In a film-study interview with TheAthletic.com, Lynn made it clear that Williams will be the team’s top tailback, with 2020 second-rounder De’Andre Swift serving in a complementary role.
“Jamaal is what I’d call a classic ‘A’ back,” Lynn said. “I like to break the backs down into A and B. My ‘A’ backs are normally my bigger backs. They can run between the tackles, block probably a little better than a ‘B’ back, they can also run the perimeter. I can leave those guys in there for all three downs.
“My ‘B’ back comes in, he’s a guy that sometimes I want to use in space more. He’s my speed-in-space guy. I feel like Jamaal would be an outstanding ‘A’ back. I like his energy, I like his pad level and the way he runs the football between the tackles.”
Williams has other attributes that Lynn finds attractive.
“He brings something to the table that some backs don’t in this category,” Lynn said regarding Williams. “This man has soft hands, really good ball skills, you can use him in the passing game. . . . I didn’t realize until I studied him a little bit more in free agency that he was that good of a receiver. This young man has excellent hands and he has some really good route savvy.”
And while it remains to be seen whether Williams will be biting kneecaps, he has some intangible qualities that Lynn likes.
“I love his personality,” Lynn said. “A lot of energy, a lot of passion. He just walks down the hallway and loves [talking to people]. I can’t wait to get him around the teammates, just so they can feel his energy. When we were watching him in free agency, everybody just kind of responded to this young man every time he touched the football. . . .
“I’ve been impressed with some of his work, like, ‘Wow, I didn’t know you could run that route, young man.’ He’s been telling me. All you have to do is ask Jamaal — there’s nothing that he can’t do better than anyone else. I love his confidence, but it showed up on tape. It really did.”
The Lions will be hoping it shows on the field this season, as the Lions try yet again to reboot the franchise in a way that results in the first playoff win in 30 years.