After a devastating loss to the Chicago Bears a few weeks ago, many were writing off the Detroit Lions’ season as a wash. A few weeks later, the team is back to .500 and they managed to do that on the backs of one of the worst players from the Bears game, Golden Tate. He wasn’t alone in his stellar play, but Tate deserves the accolades he will surely get for his career day, which included eight catches for 165 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets. Not everybody moves up in a win, however, so let’s look at who’s up and who’s down in this week’s stock report.
Stock Up: Golden Tate, WR
I teased it a little above, but he’s deserving of every mention he gets here. Tate did drop another pass in this game, which has been a curious problem for him in 2016, but he caught eight of his other targets including a 61 yarder and a nifty YAC touchdown. Tate has said his struggles were all in his head, and if that’s the case he found more than a few moments of clarity against the Los Angeles Rams. Tate was nearly unstoppable once he got the ball in his hands, and I lost count of how many Rams defenders he embarrassed. Needless to say, he’s probably not a popular figure in their coming film studies this week.
Stock Down: Glover Quin, FS
There was plenty of blame to go around in this one in terms of the secondary. Case Keenum, a former undrafted free agent out of Houston, went 27-for-32 and 321 yards in this game. Of those incompletions, several were batted at the line and I can confidently say they would be completed if they hadn’t been. Quin wasn’t the target of many of these passes, but as the leader of the secondary it is part of his job description to adjust coverage to the offense he’s facing. He failed to do that at all in this game, and added in an absolute embarrassment of a tackle attempt on Kenny Britt’s first touchdown and it’s a bad day all around for the former pro bowler.
Stock Up: Matthew Stafford, QB
I could probably fill up this entire article just talking about how great Matthew Stafford was against the Rams. His protection wasn’t perfect, his running game inconsistent, and he dealt with drops throughout, but the dude was on a whole different level. Aside from one ill-advised cross field pass that was deflected and a couple off-target completions to Boldin, Stafford was perfect for the day. He went 23-for-31 and 270 yards for four TDs with no interceptions. Despite the poor protection he was only sacked once, often due to his own mobility and pocket awareness. I could watch his pass to Andre Roberts in the end zone all day and it would never make sense from a football or physics standpoint.
Stock Up, Zach Zenner, RB
Both Todd Gurley and Zach Zenner finished with exactly 14 rushes for 58 yards. #WeirdStats— Pride Of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) October 16, 2016
When Justin Forsett was signed, it was being lauded as a certainty that Forsett would get the most carries (the in game graphic even suggested 10-15 attempts) and help the team along. Instead, it was a sometimes inconsistent Zach Zenner leading the way. Zenner took the ball 14 times for 58 yards, good for about 4.1 YPC. He also hauled in both of his targets for 19 yards. Those aren’t bell cow numbers, but they’re very close to it. Zenner did this while rushing against a stout Rams front and a depleted offensive line that was missing it’s best run blocker in Larry Warford. Zenner had some help by creative play design from Jim Bob Cooter, as well as some moments of excellence by Michael Burton and Laken Tomlinson, and while it wasn’t a perfect day it was certainly worth noting how good it was.
Stock Up, Andre Roberts, WR
E.J. Gaines has made some great plays this season. Giving up this TD to Andre Roberts (plus a PI) was not one of them. pic.twitter.com/BRWUXrLRDJ— Jack Wang (@thejackwang) October 16, 2016
I’ve been critical of Andre Roberts and his decision making as a returner. His efforts as a receiver have also been pretty poor thus far in his time as a Detroit Lion. Neither of those things were a problem today. While Roberts had one run out that he probably would have liked back, that was only one return while all of his others were the correct decision. Add to this his hard-fought, tough catch in the end zone on a play that had gone south and you’ve got the makings of a very good day. Roberts would also catch a pass later in the game on a drive where Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, and Justin Forsett all dropped one. It was a good day, which is worth pointing out for a player that’s had his share of troubles.
Anquan Boldin, WR - Boldin got a couple weird plays in there, including a strange shuttle pass on the goal line, but was otherwise well used and capitalized with eight grabs.
Michael Burton, FB - One reason the Lions were able to rush when they did was putting Michael Burton in a position to lead the way. He and Zach Zenner work well together.
Rafael Bush, SS - There were cringe-worthy moments earlier in the game, but a game sealing interception can make you forget a lot of bad play. Never quit.
Stefan Charles, DT - Charles has had issues making an impact as a Lion but was the key cog in the goal line stop to end the half, despite injury a few plays earlier.
Taylor Decker, OT - Decker hasn’t allowed a sack in weeks and continues to improve. The Rams weren’t an easy draw for a tackle, but he crushed it.
Quandre Diggs, CB - Coverage wasn’t superb, but tackling and his play near the line is still excellent. He had a tough match up against the Rams’ corps, but played admirably.
Clay Harbor, TE - I had seriously forgotten he was in Detroit, but there he was catching a key pass late in the game. Only three yards, but no TE had caught a pass in seven quarters.
Kerry Hyder, DE - I wanted consistency, and I got plenty of it. Hyder had two noteworthy TFLs, his best on a keeper to Tavon Austin that most DE would have ran right past.
Riley Reiff, OT - Reiff had good and bad moments, but I’m going to point out the good as his blocking in the first half was on point and violent, a needed change.
A’Shawn Robinson, DT - Robinson has yet to pressure an opposing QB on his own, but he’s had a strange but welcome knack for knocking down footballs.
Laken Tomlinson, OG - Like Reiff, he had bad moments, but Tomlinson also won some battles against Aaron Donald. There’s tape evidence that he can be a good guard, guys.
Anthony Zettel, DE - I joked a few weeks back that Zettel would get more play because those in front of him stunk. It might also be because he earns that time, as he did against the Rams.
Ezekiel Ansah, DE - His long awaited return didn’t amount to much. Andah only registered a tackle in his first game back. Hopefully it’s just rust.
Thurston Armbrister, LB - Armbrister continues to be poor, and while that shouldn’t keep him on here it’s like he keeps finding new ways to play poorly.
Johnson Bademosi, CB - Bademosi gave up that huge catch to Britt, which stinks on its own, but more so because he started celebrating instead of ensuring the play was whistled dead first, allowing Britt to recover and secure the ball.
Don Carey, FS - Carey doesn’t get many opportunities to wow us, or make big mistakes, but he whiffed badly on a special teams play that would have gained an extra ten yards if not for a penalty.
Justin Forsett, RB - My own expectations weren’t high, but even I expected more than one YPC and a dropped pass.
Graham Glasgow, OG - Roughest draw you could possibly get as a rookie guard, and while he had a few good moments, he was mostly bad against the Rams. Shows why he needs the time to develop.
Marvin Jones, WR - Jones almost had as many drops as he had catches. Just wasn’t his day.
Miles Killebrew, SS - It looked last week as if the Lions were going to feature more Killebrew type of plays, and with a game against Gurley I expected it. It never came, and he never justified it.
Nevin Lawson, CB - Another day, another big penalty by Lawson.
Khari Lee, TE - The Lions used an extra blocking tight end on a ton of plays against the Rams. Unfortunately for Lee, all of those snaps went to Corey Robinson...
Corey Robinson, OT - ...who wasn’t very good in the role of extra inline blocker.
Darius Slay, CB - Slay had one of the only good plays in coverage, knocking a pass away on third down late in the game, but the rest of his game wasn’t great.
Tahir Whitehead, LB - It was nice to get Whitehead back this offseason, but I’m beginning to see why he wasn’t signed elsewhere and came back on the cheap.
Tavon Wilson, SS - Wilson has had moments of greatness and moments of weakness. This game showcased the latter from him.
Adairius Barnes, CB - Players ahead of him keep struggling, but he still hasn’t gotten a chance to play. Nearing that being a negative on him.
Armonty Bryant, DE - Nothing to move the needle.
Brandon Copeland, DE - I didn’t even see him, if he played.
Joe Dahl, OG - Finally active, but nobody was benched or injured so we didn’t see him play.
Sam Martin, P - Still amazing, but didn’t have any opportunity to show that.
Don Muhlbach, LS - Fewer punts mean fewer chances to shine or mess up.
Matt Prater, K - Hit an easy kick and all of his extra points.
Travis Swanson, OC - Up and down performance, just missed out on that being a positive considering his competition.
Devin Taylor, DE - Taylor had a nice strip sack on Keenum, but wasn’t very impactful otherwise.
Khyri Thornton, DT - Thornton had some moments of dominance, but others where he was dominated completely. Up and down.
Kyle Van Noy, LB - Van Noy continues to be around the ball often, but his excessive usage in coverage, where he is weakest, hurts him.
Tyrunn Walker, DT - Walker disappeared at times, but came up big in a few others. Net neutral.
Jim Caldwell, Head Coach: Stock Up
The guy didn’t ruin the clock and made several ballsy calls against the Rams. He didn’t let it go to his head, and he went for the safe play on fourth down late in the fourth quarter. Unlike the usual five or ten head smacking moments we have as fans for stupid calls each week, there weren’t many this time.
Teryl Austin, Defensive Coordinator: Stock Down
Case Keenum was nearly flawless. Teryl Austin allowed this with soft zone coverages and few blitzes for most of the game. He didn’t disguise his coverages when he did blitz, but considering how often he ran soft zone it didn’t really matter. Most of Keenum’s completions were on easy passes to wide open players as Austin’s defenders looked coached to sit on their zones and wait until the ball arrives to close.
Jim Bob Cooter, Offensive Coordinator: Stock Up
I labored over this one. On the one hand, there were far too many reused plays in this game. It looks like Cooter is building his playbook as he goes, week to week, and using filler plays to make the rest of the game chug along. When it came down to it, though, I gave the edge to the plays he ran that were successful. Many of his plays were drawn up very well and I’m starting to see a bit of a pattern. Many of the big plays that Cooter has put together are very high risk, such as having a guard release the tackles on an inside run to find a second level block. That’s crazy difficult to pull off, but when it works you end up with a 19-yard run on first and long. I’m going to go back a few games and see if this trend holds up, but I think there are several plays that looked broken to me that may have been set up right and simply failed due to difficulty. There are benefits and flaws to that, but it also raises some questions about evaluation that will become very important if Cooter is still in Detroit from 2017 and beyond.
Joe Marciano, Special Teams Coordinator: Stock Up
Marciano seems to have gotten a rhythm with Andre Roberts over the past couple weeks. That alone pushes his stock up.