If you’re a Lions fan like I am, you’re on your seventh consecutive Honolulu Blue colored heart attack this season. The team didn’t force a shootout with Washington, instead it was a defensive battle for the entire first half where neither team got into a rhythm. The Lions allowed Washington back into the game late, where the home team fell behind for the first time all game. With only a minute and five seconds remaining, Matthew Stafford led his team downfield to score a game winning touchdown pass where Anquan Boldin fought across the line to put the Detroit Lions back on top. 16 seconds remained on the clock, but it wasn’t enough and the Lions sealed their third consecutive win to put them at 4-3 for the season and their first time in the green since week one. My adrenaline is still kicking, so let’s jump into seeing who helped or hurt themselves this week!
Stock Up: Matthew Stafford, QB
Matthew Stafford is sneakily very good at leading game-winning drives. He did it again today: https://t.co/eri9KRc2CQ— SB Nation (@SBNation) October 23, 2016
Matthew Stafford is playing out of his mind right now. He hasn’t thrown an interception in three games and there is no coincidence that all three have been wins. I could list all of the efficiency stats that he’s dominating right now, but let me skip all the math for once and just point out that anyone watching him play has no reservations about him being one of the only reasons this team has been winning. The guy has caught a ton of flak in his tenure here in Detroit, but it’s paying off in spades when games like Washington, Philadelphia, or Los Angeles happen. The level of efficiency that he’s passing with, the pocket presence that allows him to escape pressure, and the leadership he’s shown with his line and pass catchers is incredible and unprecedented for the Detroit Lions.
Stock Down: Devin Taylor, DE
Devin Taylor's continued forgetfulness that he has arms, long ones, continues.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) October 23, 2016
Devin Taylor is a massive human being. One of the biggest and most impressive traits he has, physically, are those incredibly long arms that he can use to reach out and grab rushers or separate himself from offensive linemen. I say “can use”, because he isn’t using them. It was a weird quirk he had in his sophomore season in Detroit where he’d just allow himself to get eaten up by blockers and basically block back instead of trying to shed. It showed up on nearly every play against Washington, and it’s an annoyance that I simply can’t excuse. He ended the day with only two tackles, and I’d wager he missed at least that many. Without the ability to bring pressure, the team needs to start looking elsewhere and Kerry Hyder’s emergence is doing as much damage to Taylor’s playing time as a poor performance like Sunday’s game against Washington.
Stock Up: Marvin Jones, WR
Josh Norman, meet Marvin Jones. https://t.co/UlVYbscyGG— Detroit Lions Fans (@DetLionBlood) October 23, 2016
After disappearing during the past couple of weeks to allow Golden Tate to catch up, the Detroit Lions made adjustments in the second half once Jones couldn’t even draw a target. They went deep on a bomb to Jones in tight coverage by Josh Norman and it was smooth sailing from there. Jones would finish the day with four catches for 94 yards and no drops. His one incompletion was on an end zone pass that was well defended by Bashaud Breeland. If Jones can continue to bring that deep threat, and Cooter can find a way to keep Tate and Jones involved instead of one or the other, this offense is dangerous.
Stock Down: Johnson Bademosi, CB
The Lions going from Darius Slay to injury replacement Johnson Bademosi is like going from Emma Stone to Margaret Thatcher— Jeff Risdon (@JeffRisdon) October 23, 2016
Darius Slay getting injured is a massive blow to this team. Johnson Bademosi has been up and down coming in as the team’s dimeback, so asking him to now play starter opposite Nevin Lawson is asking a whole lot. He didn’t answer the call well, giving up several easy completions that were covered poorly, and looked completely lost on other plays. The guy is an excellent special teams player, and he won’t ever be in the “Cut this dude” discussion because of that, but the Detroit Lions need to get some help if Darius Slay is going to be out for any extended period. Johnson Bademosi simply can’t cut it.
Stock Up: Antione Williams, LB
He didn’t light up the stat sheet, and coming into the game I had forgotten he’d even be playing. Still, it was good to see the small school rookie playing well in limited action on the field. I hadn’t expected to see Williams play on defense at all this season, or at the very worst only a few snaps a game, but he’s been thrust into an uncomfortable position where he’s getting a lot of playing time. It started out rough, and he had injuries to deal with, but he’s coming along a lot faster than I had expected. With Kyle Van Noy stinking up the field, I expect him to get more work. Speaking of which...
Stock Down: Kyle Van Noy, LB
It really is stunning how poor Kyle Van Noy continues to play. Big draft miss by so many, myself included. He can not play, period.— Jeff Risdon (@JeffRisdon) October 23, 2016
There was one play, down near the goal line, that I really liked for Kyle Van Noy. Instead of his usual Bobby Carpenter softness, he was getting down and dirty and hitting. Every other defensive snap I saw him in on, he was terrible. It wasn’t just the missed tackles. I mean, those are bad, and have been an increasing problem, but it wasn’t just that. It was also the inability to shed or even look like he’s trying to shed a single block. He’s had moments where it looked like he might turn it around, and we’ve pointed it out when those happen. Games like this make you want to punt something into your television.
Stock Up: Graham Glasgow, OG (BONUS!)
Justin Forsett showing a real spark. Graham Glasgow has been fantastic at LG on this drive too. #WASvsDET— Jeff Risdon (@JeffRisdon) October 23, 2016
Laken Tomlinson finally saw the bench against Washington as Graham Glasgow was given the start. I wouldn’t rule Tomlinson out for seeing the field more this year, as he looked fantastic at right guard and Warford has struggled both with play and injury, but his time at left guard is likely over. Glasgow showed a lot of promise against Aaron Donald and company, which is what prompted this roster move. He didn’t disappoint against Washington, as the huge, athletic guard was all over the place. He had a few moments that he’d probably like back, as every rookie does, but overall it ended in a positive and that’s a good sign going forward.
Adairius Barnes, CB: He is the only one to benefit from an injury in the secondary. Barring a signing, he’s going to get some real playing time soon.
Armonty Bryant, DE: A player I’m glad to be wrong about, Bryant has found himself a niche on this defense. His run defense needs a lot of work, but he notched a clean up sack.
Taylor Decker, OT: I expected a bloodbath against Washington’s pass rushers, but Decker held his own all game. He had a questionable penalty, but otherwise good.
Justin Forsett, RB: It wasn’t a big day, it wasn’t a flashy day, but it wasn’t a bad day and that’s good news for Forsett.
Clay Harbor, TE: Jim Bob Cooter used Harbor in some of Eric Ebron’s packages and the tight end was the first read on a few plays. He’s been good, if little used.
Kerry Hyder, DE: Hyder had some bad moments, particularly against the run, but he played out of his mind in the first half and it was a net positive day.
Miles Killebrew, SS: Killebrew got some usage at LB. He had a missed tackle that was ugly, but it was on a play where he smartly squared up and slowed the runner down.
Nevin Lawson, CB: No, he’s not in the wrong spot. He wasn’t great, but when Slay went down Lawson didn’t panic or try to overcompensate. He just kept playing.
Sam Martin, P: Martin is on a historic pace and it continued in the right direction with his excellent punting skills once again.
Glover Quin, FS: Quin had a much better game today than he’s had the past few weeks. Aside from messing up a Devin Taylor interception, it was a good day.
Travis Swanson, OC: Swanson continues to impress. Remember how poorly he was thought of during the offseason? What a turnaround.
Golden Tate, WR: How about some vintage Golden Tate screen plays for 20+ yards, huh?
Khyri Thornton, DT: Thornton got a lot of hype due to how well he played in camp and preseason, but we haven’t seen much of that this year. He was disruptive when he needed to be.
Tyrunn Walker, DT: He wasn’t amazing or anything, but he was solid. After so many struggles this year, that’s an improvement.
Tavon Wilson, SS: Wilson had one of his good games against Washington and again showcased his versatility.
Don Carey, FS: With Bademosi getting more work on defense, losing the team’s other great special teamer to injury is a bad sign. No word on severity yet.
Stefan Charles, DT: Maybe I just set my expectations too high, but I expected to see Charles start to make a bigger push after last week. Mostly ineffective.
Brandon Copeland, DE: He hasn’t gotten a lot of work, and when he’s in it is easy to see why he isn’t getting a lot of work.
Joe Dahl, OG: No, he didn’t play, but see that’s my issue. He’s not only behind in the guard rotation, he’s behind as an extra blocker. Lions used Cornelius Lucas with Corey Robinson out.
Cornelius Lucas, OT: Even as an extra blocker Lucas hasn’t shown he can play at a consistent NFL level.
Don Muhlbach, LS: This isn’t the first time I’ve put him here, but Muhlbach is having a bad year. He cost the Lions three points in this one, how many are acceptable?
Dan Orlovsky/Jake Rudock, QB: I know, neither played. But did you see that they got dropped a point in Madden this week anyway? What gives?
Riley Reiff, OT: While his partner on the other side stepped up to a difficult draw, Reiff was visibly frustrated with how poor he handled his assignment on the right side.
A’Shawn Robinson, DT: He started out the game well, but as it wore on I saw next to nothing from Robinson. Aside from one play when Scherff went out, he was invisible.
Darius Slay, CB: Injuries suck, but Slay was having a rough game prior to the injury. If he’s out for any extended period of time, the team is in trouble.
Laken Tomlinson, OG: It’s rare a guy sees the bench after a career game. Tomlinson must be written off as a left guard, so until Warford is down he’s on the bench.
Larry Warford, OG: Warford got rocked on his backside again. Getting beaten with power isn’t familiar for those who have watched Warford for years.
Dwayne Washington, RB: It looked like we’d get Washington back on the field, but he either had a setback or wasn’t as far along as we all thought.
Tahir Whitehead, LB: I waffled on putting him here. His stat sheet looks nice, and he had a good play in coverage late. Overall, there was a lot of ground that had to be covered and Whitehead didn’t get many favors from Teryl Austin.
Ezekiel Ansah, DE: Ansah is still playing hurt and it showed. Not only was he constantly working out that ankle, but he struggled when turning the corner and lacked his usual burst.
Thurston Armbrister, LB: I don’t even know if he played. Maybe he didn’t. In any case, he wasn’t on the field missing tackles, so that’s a plus.
Anquan Boldin, WR: He did what Anquan Boldin does, which is all you can ask for. He had only three catches, hence why he’s down here, but he made all three count.
Michael Burton, FB: Continues to be good when he’s called upon, but his sole use is as a blocker and he needs to find other ways to be useful to move up.
Rafael Bush, SS: He had a sack on a neat blitz, but also gave up a bunch in coverage. I leaned towards putting him stock down, but I think his play evened up on the day.
Quandre Diggs, CB: This was a tough one. From the outcome, stat wise, it’d seem he had a bad day, but I struggled to remember any specific instances. Maybe on re-watch.
Khari Lee, TE: The Lions still need a blocking tight end.
Matt Prater, K: He missed what should have been a routine kick, but it fell on the shoulders of Muhlbach and to a lesser extent, Martin.
Andre Roberts, WR: Roberts gator handed an easy pass for a first down, his second drop on very limited targets. He made up for it later with an excellent, difficult 20-yard catch. Two drops on only 8 targets this season.
Zach Zenner, RB: An up and down game for Zenner, who had a few really nice runs but was overshadowed by a more efficient Forsett. He got the sole rushing TD on the day, though.
Anthony Zettel, DE: I expected Zettel to step up with more opportunities but this wasn’t a good example of that. He struggled every time he was on the field.
Jim Caldwell, HC: Stock Up
Caldwell has his moments, and occasionally they work out. He was being bashed early and often for his clock management in the final few minutes of the game as many hoped he would use them while Washington had the ball to conserve the clock. Instead, he had a little over a minute to work with and the gameplan worked. The second half adjustments of this team weren’t awful, and in a couple instances were very good. It’s rare we can say that about Caldwell, so he’s in the up column this week.
Teryl Austin, DC: Stock Up
The defense wasn’t good, it wasn’t great, and it caught a bunch of lucky breaks. Still, it wasn’t terrible. Terrible is what it has been for the past few weeks, so having them not be is a clear improvement. I like that Austin was disguising his coverages a lot better against Kirk Cousins. The former Michigan State quarterback had a tendency to get flustered when coverage was disguised — a trait that carried over from college to the pros. Austin still allowed Cousins to complete 76 percent of his passes, but many of them were on second and third reads. Pressure wasn’t amazing, but it was at times good and that is also an improvement. Hopefully this is the beginning of a trend and not just a blip.
Jim Bob Cooter, OC: Stock Unchanged
As I talked about earlier in the week, Cooter has been building his game plan on the fly. He introduced some new plays this week and some of them worked well. The team as a whole struggled to finish drives early in the game, but I like how he countered the Washington pass rush. Instead of assigning extra blockers to assist, Cooter designed the offense to stretch the field horizontally. It resulted in a lot of plays that didn’t go for much, but it also had the defense running full tilt sideline-to-sideline for long, sustained drives. I wish the payoff happened more often, since that means more points, but seeing an offense with a designed purpose that it was stuck with and, (more or less) worked is refreshing. Unfortunately, the lack of points and the fact that some of those plays were ONLY designed to make defenders run around, instead of also netting positive yards, means I can’t quite explain a move up.
Joe Marciano, STC: Stock Up
Andre Roberts didn’t take out any kicks, didn’t attempt to return any punts, and neither did Washington. I appreciate that he didn’t try to mask a deficiency by sheer volume, as he had done in previous weeks, and I like that Sam Martin has gotten even better on his watch. It’s going to be a real test of his abilities in the coming weeks if Don Carey is out for any period of time and Johnson Bademosi is asked to do more on defense. We’ll see how that turns out.