Detroit’s Fresh Start Starring Jamaal Williams

Detroit Lions running backs D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams on the field during minicamp practice Wednesday, June 9, 2021, at then Allen Park practice facility in Detroit. Lions

Jamaal Williams knows the NFC North division well. The running back spent his first four seasons with the Green Bay Packers, and back in March, he signed a deal to join the Detroit Lions.

Overall, 2021 has seen a major shakeup for the culture of the Lions. The team has a new coaching staff led by Dan Campbell, a new quarterback in Jared Goff, and a new identity with big-name wide receivers Marvin Jones Jr. and Kenny Golladay bailing in free agency.

Enter Williams

Williams, who played his college days for the Brigham Young University Cougars in Provo, Utah, is now getting his first taste of what a bigger media market looks like in Detroit.

As he told ESPN, “I’ve always been jealous of this blue and gray. For me, I’ve always been in small cities, so for me it’s big to come here. I’m like, it sure is a lot of people around this mug. But, it’s cool. I really like it. I like how it’s just its own place.”

Unfazed With Sharing

Throughout the early stages of his career, Williams has primarily been seen as a number two running back on the depth chart. With Green Bay, he was the backup to Aaron Jones. Now in Detroit, he will serve behind second-year Georgia stud D’Andre Swift.

However, Williams doesn’t let the number two narrative define him. He’s excited to suit up for a new team with the Lions in the 2021 campaign.

“I see this as a new beginning, a new time for me to just be able to show my talents and my abilities and everything I’ve just been working on this whole offseason,” he said. “I always know that I can work on something to get better and find something that I can improve on or find something new.”

When Matthew Stafford was serving as the quarterback in the Motor City, the Lions were well-known as a big passing team. Now with Stafford being shipped off to the LA Rams in the Jared Goff deal, the identity has begun to shift for the Motor City Kitties.

Ready For Work

And the team has not seen a consistent rusher or big-stat running back since 2013, when Reggie Bush posted the franchise’s last 1000-yard season on the ground. But Williams is hoping that he will be part of the position room to change that moniker.

“I feel like with our players and my teammates and everybody, just want to get out of this slump, we’ve got to start new. Then at the same time, we’ve got to have a new mindset of how we’re gonna do things around here,” he said. “We’re just gonna be focused and sacrifice for the team. The more you sacrifice for the team, the more the team will flourish. It’s just part of me learning it at the same time. It really just comes with a lot of team chemistry, and that’s what we’re getting on. I’m having fun with it. I love all my teammates. These boys are funny, and at the same time, we’re working hard.”

With Jamaal Williams now suiting up for the silver and Honolulu blue, the Detroit Lions are looking to shed the passing identity of seasons past and develop more of a ground and pound culture.