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Detroit Lions vs. Jacksonville Jaguars stock report: Tale of the rookies

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Bob Quinn’s first draft class has been a phenomenal one both in comparison to previous draft classes and in general, and several of them helped lead the Lions to a win against the Jaguars.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Detroit Lions Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images

For the first time in 2016, we haven’t had to hold our breaths for the entirety of the fourth quarter. Sure, the team was down at the beginning, as they have been in every game this season, but it never truly felt out of hand. Even as the offense struggled to move the ball, things were quieter than we’ve become accustomed to. Bob Quinn’s draft class has had its share of struggles and triumphs and we got an important game from several of them in both directions.

Stock Up: Miles Killebrew, SS/LB

The rookie fourth-round pick out of Southern Utah was expected to be a project and the Lions have been, smartly, cautious in his development. Against the Jacksonville Jaguars, we finally got to see what it may look like when he’s unleashed and playing to his potential. Tied for the team lead in tackles with five, it wasn’t just that he was making tackles but making them when it was important. Seeing a safety who can come up big in important moments is encouraging. Killebrew has elite size and top tier athleticism for his position, but also a fiery, contagious attitude that will make him an exciting player to watch in the coming years if he continues to develop as he has.

Stock Down: Graham Glasgow, OG

Picked before Miles Killebrew was Graham Glasgow out of Michigan. The third-round rookie struggled mightily against the Jaguars interior defenders all game and was so routinely over-matched that I feared a benching. He wasn’t getting any help from Taylor Decker or Travis Swanson, who also struggled, but in manned up situations I saw a rookie playing like a rookie and it didn’t improve as the game wore on. The Jags took up residence in his head and his ability to block in any capacity in the run game was next to nil by the time the game hit its final minutes. Glasgow has played well for a rookie in recent weeks since becoming the starter, but this is a game he won’t be looking back on fondly.

Stock Up: Antwione Williams, LB

It wasn’t a completely clean game for Williams, particularly in coverage where he got turned around on more than one occasion. Like Killebrew, however, nobody was expecting Williams to be playing in even a marginal capacity at this point of the season, and while he’s struggled at times, he hasn’t looked out of place. A small school prospect out of Georgia Southern, Williams was only expected to be a special teamer with DeAndre Levy, Tahir Whitehead, Kyle Van Noy, Jon Bostic and Josh Bynes ahead of him. Three were injured and Van Noy was traded, leaving Williams as a starter by default. I won’t go so far as to call him good, but a game like this one from a rookie who was expected to be sixth on the depth chart is a very good place to start.

Stock Down: Travis Swanson, OC

How much of a surprise has Travis Swanson been this season? Embattled to start the season and most thought he was going to lose his job sooner than later. He’s played lights out, at or above a Pro Bowl level through Week 10. Week 11, on the other hand, we saw a throwback Travis Swanson from 2015. It wasn’t pretty, and I’m sure he’s not Matthew Stafford’s favorite person right now. It’s refreshing that it’s a blip on the radar, games like this, but you want those blips to not occur at all.

Stock Up: Don Juan Carey, SS

Yeah, I’m giving a shout out to Carey with a big write up today. Don Carey has been playing at an all-pro level on special teams this season, and is probably the best special teams player on a team that has Matt Prater and Sam Martin on it. And Johnson Bademosi. Nevermind the routine plays he makes that others can’t seem to do consistently, like leading the way on Andre Roberts’ punt return, or closing on returners so quickly that they have to fair catch despite otherwise open grass in front of them. That is child’s play for Carey. No, you have to see a guy taking down a returner with one hand while being tackled by a blocker to see how good Don Carey is. Carey left late with an injury, so we’ll wait word on that, but he was fantastic against the Jaguars.

Quick Hits

Stock Up

Ezekiel Ansah, DE: Ansah still hasn’t notched a sack, but he otherwise reigned hell on the Jaguars offensive line and they had no answer other than to run away.
Anquan Boldin, WR: After a bad game against Minnesota where he dropped two passes, Boldin nearly continued that trend by fumbling on the first drive. Lions got away with it, and he spent the rest of the game making up for that play, netting six receptions.
Rafael Bush, SS: This may have been Bush’s best game as a pro. A timely pick-six energized the defense, and Bush later added a huge third down stop that prevented a costly first down.

Stefan Charles, DT: Charles has suddenly emerged as a valid option starting at DT. He doesn’t make plays often, but his moments have been notable.
Eric Ebron, TE: Rushing TD aside, Ebron is on pace to hit 60 catches for 789 yards and 4 total TDs in 2016 despite missing a few games.
Corey Fuller, WR: Fuller was inactive, but after another bad game by Marvin Jones I expect him to see the field eventually.
Nevin Lawson, CB: Another good game from Lawson. He wasn’t targeted often, in part due to a poor day by Slay, but did well when he was.
Sam Martin, P: My god, how good is Sam Martin? Adding a 61-yard punt to his tally, he had the field position battle on lock.
Haloti Ngata, DT: When they weren’t dropping him into coverage, Ngata played very well against a line that otherwise gave the Lions DL trouble.
Glover Quin, FS: Quin had the biggest hit of the day and was flying all over the field. He forced a fumble and gave the Lions defense some needed rest.
Theo Riddick, RB: Injury kept him from shouldering a big workload, but ineffectiveness from Dwayne Washington pushed him back into the role he thrived in. Played through the pain.

Laken Tomlinson, OG: Tomlinson was in on two plays that I saw. The blocked XP, where he was close but not involved in the block, and one of the only successful runs of the day where he was at RG.
Tavon Wilson, SS: Wilson had an overall good day. It was an easier assignment than most weeks, but he nailed it as he should have.
Anthony Zettel, DE: He didn’t completely ruin rushing plays, so that’s a step up from the last time he played. Still a work in progress, but gotta take progress.

Stock Down

Johnson Bademosi, CB: Bademosi didn’t get much work as a corner, thankfully, but his normally great ST work wasn’t up to par. He owes Carey big time.
Johnthan Banks, CB: Banks hasn’t had much time, but his lack of long speed and awareness has already proven a problem on the long completion to Marqise Lee.
Michael Burton, FB: Burton didn’t do much, and while not all of that was his fault with the whole OL struggling, he didn’t add much in this one.
Taylor Decker, OT: Decker has been very good for a rookie OT. This game was not one of those games you can say was ‘very good’ or even ‘a little good.’

Justin Forsett, RB: Officially a bottom of the roster, routine game day inactive player, I don’t expect to see Forsett again unless someone gets hurt.
Marvin Jones, WR: Jones now has only five catches in the past three games after averaging more than that per game over the first five weeks of the season.
DeAndre Levy, LB: The expectation was that Levy would be back in the lineup after the bye. He looks on track to be back soon, but wasn’t in this one.
Riley Reiff, OT: Reiff wasn’t routinely abused, but he was having a lot of trouble keeping the Jags defensive ends in check.
A’Shawn Robinson, DT: I can’t remember seeing a DT who is so stout against OL trying to push them who seemed so unable to push back when he needed to rush.
Darius Slay, CB: Not since the Denver game last season can I remember Darius Slay playing so poorly individually. He’s had rough games, but this one was painful.

Golden Tate, WR: Tate had some very important plays that he made, but the ones he didn’t were impactful as well. He ran a couple wrong routes and fumbled.
Khyri Thornton, DT: I didn’t see much of him, but when I did it was running after Chris Ivory after he’d broken through the line.
Tyrunn Walker, DT: A former starter as a healthy scratch. It’d be more surprising if the Lions had any actual starting DT, since most of them get the same snaps.
Larry Warford, OG: Another week of struggles for the formerly promising right guard. In a contract year, we might be seeing our last of Warford as a starter in Detroit.
Dwayne Washington, RB: Play calls were bad, blocking was bad, but the rookie running back was also bad. The few opportunities he had, he simply went down. 0.46 YPC...
Tahir Whitehead, LB: He tied for the team lead in tackles but was awful when asked to cover, and he was out of place more than he should have been.

Unchanged

Thurston Armbrister, LB: Did you remember he was on the team? Me neither. He was active, but I never saw him.
Adairius Barnes, CB: Barnes was inactive against Jacksonville, and I’m okay with it since he’s been banged up when he has played. Heal a bit, dude.
Josh Bynes, LB: His lack of foot speed was evident when he couldn’t catch up to Marcedes Lewis on a drag. His overall play was alright, though, on the day.
Brandon Copeland, DE: Can’t move much lower from where his stock is at.
Joe Dahl, OG: One of the few Quinn rookies to have done nothing in this game.
Quandre Diggs, CB: Another up and down game for Diggs, who still can’t seem to find himself as a player this year.
Clay Harbor, TE: As long as Ebron is healthy, he won’t have a role.
Kerry Hyder, DE: Hyder didn’t have a sack, and he had moments where he caused pressure, but it was a mixed bag overall as he struggled too often with contain.
Corey Robinson, OT: We only got to see him setting the edge as an extra blocker when a run went inside. A worthless play to begin with, it wastes Robinson’s talents.
Matthew Stafford, QB: It wasn’t hero Matthew Stafford, it was adequate Stafford, and that’s all the team needed.
Devin Taylor, DE: On plays I watched him, he looked alright. That might be an improvement, but Jags had a lot of room to work despite that.
Zach Zenner, RB: No work to really judge him on other than teams, where he didn’t mess anything up or spring anything.

Coaches

Jim Caldwell, HC, Stock Down

The Detroit Lions have played ten games this season. In all ten of them, they have trailed in the fourth quarter. The Jaguars are a pitiful team, one of the worst in the NFL. Jim Caldwell left the door open for them to win right until the very end. The play calling on offense was atrocious and wasn’t reigned in until the final minutes of the first half and fourth quarter respectively.

Jim Bob Cooter, OC, Stock Down

Cooter’s play calling in this one was terrible. It is probably his worst game, maybe second worst after Tennessee. There was no creativity in the passing game, no commitment or variance in the running game. Players had to work way harder than they should have against defenders they shouldn’t have had trouble against in the first place.

Teryl Austin, DC, Stock Up

This was a great game for Teryl Austin’s defense. Not only did they add some takeaways, but the actual scheme was paying dividends at times. Austin has struggled to put players in the position to make a play this season, but we saw several instances where he did just that. He made excellent use of Miles Killebrew in this game both in the box and as a pass rusher. This is something I hope we see more of as the season draws to a close.

Joe Marciano, ST, Stock Up

What a game from Marciano’s group. The kicking game was on point as always, aside from a block (I’ll get to that), but it was the coverage units that really had me going. In almost every instance, Don Carey and company were in place where they needed to be and the Jags had nowhere to go with the ball. Likewise, the return game was set up well and the blockers were there when they needed to be to lead the way. There was a blocked extra point, but on rewatching it I’m not sure it could have been played much better than it was. Just an excellent play from the Jags to get a hand on the ball, not an instance of a player failing to complete their assignment. Later, when rookie Jalen Ramsey came over the long snapper, it looked like they set him up to get a penalty, giving him a free jump and timing it right so that the team could basically get a free shot at points and the possibility of a penalty if it was missed.