When your team loses, it’s usually a chore finding all of the bright spots. It’s even more challenging to try and shine a light on them without allowing cynicism to creep through. Just the same, it’s sometimes hard to restrain yourself when the team wins in spectacular fashion. This week was neither hard, nor a chore. Instead, it was insulting to watch game tape a second time. Subjecting myself to a second round was worth it, because the Pride of Detroit community is so great—stock up: POD community—but I emphatically advise against it. There weren’t a lot of bright spots. So I’m going to cheat.
Stock Up: Zach Zenner, RB
He touched the ball only four times against the Bears, so we’re starting our stock up guys with the bar set pretty low. With Ameer Abdullah on IR, the Lions were attempting to lean on Dwayne Washington more, but clearly needed someone else who could rush the ball to be active game day. Zenner’s first carry was blown up from the start and he was nailed several yards behind the line of scrimmage with nowhere to go. He managed to turn a later run out for 10 yards and had an excellent 22-yard reception that gave a little bit of hope coming into another week of the walking wounded.
Stock Down: Golden Tate, WR
If I could, I’d use all three of my main stock down spots on Tate, just to highlight how poor his day was. A poor dropped pass should have been the lowlight of the game, but Tate had an unforced mental error later that caused him to run the wrong route. Stafford threw the comeback right to where Tate should have been, but Tate ran right past the DB who swallowed up the pass for the easiest interception he’s likely to see in his career. Tate was so ineffective and noticeably checked out of the game that he was ultimately benched in favor of Andre Roberts. The former leading receiver for the Lions came back into the game for a critical two-point conversion, but was used sparingly through the 2nd half with the Lions trailing.
Stock Up: Darius Slay, CB
While his mates in the secondary were getting abused by the immortals Brian Hoyer, Eddie Royal and Cameron Meredith, Darius Slay was quietly having a good game in coverage. Alshon Jeffery was limited to only three catches and Slay even got some work rushing the passer on one of the few defensive plays that Teryl Austin didn’t call cover none.
Stock Down: Devin Taylor, DE
You know what may have been useful against the Bears? Any modicum of pass rush. Devin Taylor was given an opportunity to step up in Ezekiel Ansah’s absence, but decided instead to disappear completely against a pair of tackles that wouldn’t be out of place in the arena league. Taylor was as much of a liability as any player I’ve seen this year and he doesn’t even have the excuse of working against a mid-tier tackle and having a bad day. He faced an easy assignment and crapped the bed, getting blanked on a stat sheet that was representative of his impact in the game: all zeroes.
Stock Down: A’Shawn Robinson, DT
When I first watched the game, I thought A’Shawn Robinson was starting to flash a little bit. On my second pass, I have no idea what I was seeing. Any of Robinson’s flash plays this season have been against the run, but he maybe had a single moment in the game that wasn’t mostly bad. Against the pass it was even worse, and he may right now be the worst pass rusher on the team. The second round rookie has a long, long way to go if he’s going to be someone the team can build upon, and games like this had better be learning moments rather than a beginning of a trend.
Stock Down: Antwione Williams, LB
The poor guy shouldn’t even be seeing the field as a rookie, but injuries pressed him into service and he went in completely unprepared in this one. Williams was all over the field, and while that usually means good things, in this case it just meant he was jogging around a lot. He didn’t look like he knew where to be or where to go on most plays and the angles he took against the run reminded me of Alex Lewis. If you’re not familiar with that name, Lewis was one of the many players whose football careers ended in their last season on the Detroit Lions in 2008. Williams has the excuse of being a small school rookie who shouldn’t even be playing yet, but he’s not taking his lumps very well.
Adairius Barnes, CB: The way this secondary looked, an undrafted rookie with no game experience looks mighty tempting to get some playing time.
Johnson Bademosi, CB: As one of the NFL’s best special teamers, Bademosi continues to play well in that area. He may be needed on defense, so we’ll see how that goes soon.
Taylor Decker, OT: I was concerned about how Decker would follow up a bad game, and having a good draw helped him keep Stafford clean. Penalties gotta get fixed.
Marvin Jones, WR: When no one but Stafford seemed to be trying to football, Marvin Jones kept trying to put a spark in the offense.
Miles Killebrew, SS: I’ve been hoping the team would start to use Killebrew more, and he didn’t disappoint. I’m worried he’ll get pushed along too fast, but he looks promising.
Khari Lee, TE: Not saying he played well, because he didn’t really, but he’s getting more snaps which means more opportunity. That’s a good thing for him.
Sam Martin, P: Still a ridiculously talented special teams player.
Andre Roberts, WR: Roberts continues to take out every punt or kick and it finally paid off. I don’t expect that to be the norm, but he had a moment this week.
Anthony Zettel, DE: Zettel is making a case for more time in that he has sucked slightly less than other “pass rushers” on this squad. Snaps should increase as others play down to sixth round rookie level and he plays up to it.
Thurston Armbrister, LB: His reputation as a career special teamer was on display when, despite Williams’ constant struggles, Armbrister received no snaps on Defense.
Anquan Boldin, WR: The Lions are going to use Boldin on bubble screens. It means he’s going to get more catches this year. Good for his HOF credentials, bad for the Lions.
Rafael Bush, SS: Pushed back into starting duty with Tavon Wilson injured, it was clear why he lost the job in the first place.
Stefan Charles, DT: Charles struggled to justify his pricetag throughout training camp, then again in the preseason. Four games in, it still looks like a mistake.
Brandon Copeland, DE: Copeland is down to only seven snaps, losing time to rookie Anthony Zettel. Once a promising up and comer, he’s mostly around for special team duties now.
Joe Dahl, OG: The rookie had a good camp and preseason, but has yet to find himself active despite struggles he could be an answer for.
Quandre Diggs, CB: Man was Diggs bad against Eddie Royal. I knew it would be a tough draw, so hopefully he can rebound, but his lack of relative athleticism was glaring.
Eric Ebron, TE: Ebron can’t catch a break, and while he shows dynamic playmaking ability at times, he still struggles with the cerebral aspect of the game with a lapse in concentration and more penalty problems.
Wallace Gilberry, DE: Gilberry was trying to start fights with the Bears OL from the first snap of the game. Funny, because in-between the whistles he wasn’t putting up much of a fight.
Kerry Hyder, DE: Yes, he got another sack, and that’s good, but Hyder had more bad snaps than good ones. His good ones, still pretty damn good, but needs consistency.
Nevin Lawson, CB: Lawson has been awful this season, and that hasn’t stopped being a thing yet. I may have to stop putting him on here, he may have bottomed out in Week 4.
DeAndre Levy, LB: Nothing happened with him, and he said nothing to indicate it, but we’ve entered the fans-saying-he-doesn’t-want-to-play-anymore phase of his career.
Haloti Ngata, DT: The former all-pro was getting bodied by a rookie center who has had his share of struggles. Not a good look.
Glover Quin, FS: Individually, he looked fine. This secondary continues to struggle when in zone, and that’s part of his job on the back end to get people to where they need to be.
Riley Reiff, OT: Reiff has had an up-and-down season. That one of those downs was against a beat up Bears defense isn’t encouraging.
Theo Riddick, RB: Riddick struggled against the Packers top-rated rush defense last week, okay. He struggled nearly as much against the 31st ranked rush defense, and dropped yet another pass.
Matthew Stafford, QB: Stafford was losing his dang mind trying to keep the team from falling apart. It didn’t work, frustration mounted, and he was broken by halftime.
Travis Swanson, OC: Swanson has been playing very well, but he was eaten alive at times against the Bears and there is no logical reason why that happened.
Golden Tate, WR: Honorable mention for Tate again, who was the first offensive player to give up—in the first quarter.
Khyri Thornton, DT: Once looking dominant as an interior penetrator, Thornton hasn’t won a match-up in weeks.
Laken Tomlinson, OG: Decker rebounded, but with Swanson struggling there was nobody to bail out the second year guard in a sloppy display.
Kyle Van Noy, LB: On offense, Tate was the first to give up. On defense, it may have been Van Noy. He played soft, jogging and tackling like he didn’t want to smudge his uniform.
Tyrunn Walker, DT: No push, no penetration, and an inability to even hold a lane together when the play call was correct. He did whatever the Bears wanted him to.
Larry Warford, OG: Even Warford got in on the whole giving up thing. Rarely one to get beaten back, he was beaten quickly more often than I’ll admit. I’m embarrassed for him.
Dwayne Washington, RB: Washington had two issues coming out of college. Fumbles and injuries. An ankle injury took him out of the game early and he never returned.
Tahir Whitehead, LB: Like Quin, he played fine in a bubble, but the defensive calls were his and he got toyed with, unable to keep anyone where they were supposed to be.
Cole Wick, TE: Wick had three offensive snaps, notably when Ebron was injured. I’m not sure what role he has right now.
Tavon Wilson, SS: Wilson was injured this week and missed time. He was sorely missed, and needs to find his way back to the field swiftly.
Coaches Stock Report
Stock Down: Jim Caldwell, HC
The Lions came into the Bears game unprepared and unmotivated. They remained unprepared until the final snaps, but the motivation only went down once the game started. Penalties still mounted and aside from Golden Tate being held accountable after a game breaking mistake, no one was held accountable. It’s said that players take on the demeanor of their coach. Caldwell’s defining attribute is apathy.
Stock Down: Teryl Austin, DC
Teryl Austin’s defense hasn’t looked good, and the Bears game is a clear example of how bad it can look when it’s completely off. He was out-coached from start to finish and looked to be using the same four or five plays over and over. About as much of an over-correction after the complicated mess of a Packers game, Austin called a game that wouldn’t be complex for the Pro Bowl.
Stock Down: Jim Bob Cooter, OC
Fans love Cooter, and he’s had moments of brilliance; there were none of those against the Bears. I was willing to give him a pass after the stupidity that was the Anquan Boldin bubble screen. Maybe he saw something that said a screen to your slowest player would be a good idea, catch them off guard or something. There is nothing in the history of professional sports that could make you think that not one, not two, but three bubble screens to Anquan Boldin was a good idea. The Tate gimmick play made an appearance and was just as worthless as it always is. Cooter called his worst game as an offensive coordinator against the Bears, made worse by how out of control his players were and an inability to reign it in or adjust in any meaningful way. When given a spark in the run game from Zenner, Cooter pulled him from the game and only gave him one more carry in the second half.
Stock Up: Joe Marciano, STC
Marciano is going for the mad genius approach to special teams. Andre Roberts has clearly been coached to take the football out every time regardless how deep in the end zone it is, as indicated by his 30th ranked kick return average, but he managed to jump from 22nd in punt return average to 2nd with one well blocked return. I don’t think it’s sustainable, but I also don’t think it’s going to change, especially since it’s worked once. Considering how bad this Detroit Lions team is, the occasional big return may be the only thing to tune in for, even if you’re taunted with 16-yard kick returns far more often.