Of the Detroit Lions’ five losses in 2016, the loss to the now 10-win New York Giants was both the easiest to stomach yet somehow the most disappointing. A victory in New York and the Detroit Lions sit alone atop the NFCN with no real chance for the now surging Green Bay Packers to recover. As it is, the Lions are only a game up on the Packers and staring down a brutal two game stretch to complete the year. As we’ve done every week, we’re going to take a look at the stock of (almost) every player on the roster and see how things shook out after Week 15.
Stock Up: Golden Tate, WR
Five weeks into the season, Marvin Jones was on top of the NFL and many were wondering if Golden Tate could be trade bait. Then he shot out like a rocket against the Rams and hasn’t looked back since. He’s a huge part of why the Detroit Lions have been winning most of their games, and performances like his against the Giants are a big part of why. Able to work his normal YAC routes as well as the deep ones when needed, Tate was only kept out of the end zone on the day due to an excellent recovery and play on the ball by Eli Apple, on a play where Tate burned the rookie corner.
Stock Down: Asa Jackson, CB
It’s difficult for a player coming off as bad of a week as Jackson was against the Bears to not only do worse, but do significantly worse. Jackson was the worst player on either side of the ball for either team. At one point benched for special teams ace and part time safety Don Carey, Jackson was forced back into full time use after Darius Slay left with a hamstring injury. The only incomplete pass that was thrown in Jackson’s vicinity was a drop and he was directly responsible for a majority of the Giants points no matter who he was lined up against. The Lions took a gamble that they could find something in the former Ravens special teamer, but this is going to go down as one of Bob Quinn’s first obvious mistakes.
Stock Up: Matthew Stafford, QB
If you're ever feeling dumb just remember there's still people out there who hate on Matthew Stafford— Detroit Vs Everybody (@DetvrsEverybody) December 13, 2016
No, Stafford’s stat line doesn’t look great, and yeah, he was kept out of the end zone. Some of us are old enough to remember the last time the Lions signal caller donned a glove, during October of the Lions’ 2011 playoff season. He would go on to throw pretty much every interception he could over the next few weeks and was a hot mess throwing a football. There were some velocity issues this time around and the passes weren’t coming out with that frozen rope, nearly zero arc trajectory we’re used to, but he was generally accurate. He did throw a pick, but it was more of the well-defended, desperation variety than it was a poor decision or poor throw type. His pick-six against the Bears was of that latter type and I’m glad to see that he was otherwise able to keep it together and spread the ball where it needed to be, even in a watered down offense.
Stock Down: Andre Roberts
Andre Roberts burning 6 seconds to gain nothing on a punt return is an apt summary for this Lions day— Jeff Risdon (@JeffRisdon) December 18, 2016
I was so impressed to see Andre Roberts skillfully get himself out of bounds before downing a kick to start the second half. He hadn’t gotten any opportunities prior to that, aside from a weak return that had no real blocking and was wiped out by penalty in the first quarter, so it was good to see. We would later see him allow punts past him that would be downed by the Giants. I’m certain part of this is due to coaching—more on that later—but no adjustments were made, and it happened a second time on the following punt. Add to that a fumble that mercifully went out of bounds and no value at all in the passing game and it was a bad day overall that more than wiped out a moment of brilliance.
Stock Down: Dwayne Washington and Zach Zenner, RBs
The #Lions are committing to the run game a bit today -- but it isn't going well. Dwayne Washington averaging 2.2 yards per carry.— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) December 18, 2016
Dwayne Washington ran for 12 yards on his first carry of the day. His next 13 carries went for only 19 total yards, along with two catches for a paltry 9 yards. Zach Zenner showed far better vision in the limited carries he had, but fumbled his longest run of the day. It was his first career fumble, and while it was more an excellent defensive play than bad ball protection, it still saw him on the bench for much of the rest of the day while Washington slogged along. Washington would even contribute to the injury of his own teammate as he ran into the back of Larry Warford. I think we can safely say that both of these backs’ good day against the Bears was more due to injury along the Bears defensive front than their own abilities. The blocking wasn’t great or even good, but on the few times it was there, they either missed the hole (Washington) or fumbled (Zenner).
Ezekiel Ansah, DE: The former Pro Bowler has fought through injury all year, but was finally able to get home. Pity it was against an OT as bad as Ereck Flowers, but a sack’s a sack.
Don Carey, FS: Carey whiffed on a special teams tackle, which he has done rarely, but got to see time on defense. With Jackson being awful, probably more work in his future.
Brandon Copeland, DE: Copeland has largely been ignored as a pass rusher, but he made an impact special teams play by deflecting a punt from Brad Wing.
Miles Killebrew, SS: Not through his play, which was just meh, but due to his snap counts likely rising. Rafael Bush’s concussion means Killebrew will pick up those snaps.
Nevin Lawson, CB: Like Killebrew, Lawson is likely to see more snaps next week. Let’s see who he draws...
Corey Lemonier, DE: He hasn’t played yet, but worth noting that I’ve always thought he was a better DE than 34 OLB. Hoping I’m right, noting it just in case.
DeAndre Levy, LB: Now that we know how bad his mystery injury was, it’s kind of nuts he’s playing as well as he is only two games back.
Khyri Thornton, DT: I might ding him down on rewatch, but worth pointing out that one of the few moments of brilliance by a DT was by Thornton.
Tahir Whitehead, LB: He wasn’t as good as his tackle total made it look like he was, but ended up playing a net positive day overall.
Anthony Zettel, DE: Overall, he didn’t have a great day just like the rest of the DL. Still, had a nearly unblocked sack and got to notch one on a Manning before they’re gone.
Johnson Bademosi, CB: Bademosi rarely makes bad plays on special teams, but we saw one against the Giants as he held badly on one, wiping out a decent return.
Joique Bell, RB: As bad as Washington and Zenner were, the Lions didn’t trust Bell to carry the football one time.
Anquan Boldin, WR: Boldin only managed 13 yards on 3 receptions, but worse it seemed like the plays where he wins were largely phased out against the Giants, probably due to Stafford’s injury.
Rafael Bush, SS: Bush left the game with what seemed like a concussion, which obviously sucks, but also missed out on a potentially game changing fumble recovery.
Taylor Decker, OT: Another bad day from Decker who got beaten pretty badly on a few plays. Steve Spagnuolo’s blitz packages gave him fits as well.
Eric Ebron, TE: Ebron talked a big game coming into this one, but like Boldin was hurt by a dumbed down scheme. Add to that a bad drop on third down and another failed conversion where he was tackled short.
Graham Glasgow, OC: I could probably forgive the muffed snap that nearly hit the dirt if Glasgow had blocked well. But I can’t, because he didn’t.
Kerry Hyder, DE: If you failed to notice Hyder against the Giants, it was likely because he was getting mauled by his blockers and failing to contain running backs.
Asa Jackson, CB: Oh, he also gave up the game’s other touchdown. Forgot to mention that. He was really bad.
Marvin Jones, WR: At one point on pace to hit 1,500 yards, his pace has dipped below 1,000 and it would take games much better than this one to hit that mark.
Nevin Lawson, CB: ...Oh crap, Dez Bryant. Well, I guess if there’s ever a time to prove you can be a number one CB, even in a pinch. For real though, that’s not a good draw.
Haloti Ngata, DT: Got dinged by some friendly fire, but also had a rougher than usual outing against New York’s Weston Richburg.
A’Shawn Robinson, DT: Normally stout against the run, Robinson made as much impact there as he normally does against the pass, which isn’t much at all.
Darius Slay, CB: Hamstring injuries aren’t super serious, but they tend to nag around. Having already missed time, he looks poised to miss his biggest matchup next week.
Laken Tomlinson, OG: All three interior OL were bad. Tomlinson is the one we probably end up comparing that bad to. Needs a move to RG like Glasgow needs to move back to LG.
Larry Warford, OG: Warford wasn’t playing well even before Dwayne Washington tried to spear his spine. Hasn’t had a good year and may only have a few games left as a Lion.
Antwione Williams, LB: Less and less time as DeAndre Levy heals. I expect him to slip more and more as the last couple play out.
Josh Bynes, LB: I didn’t notice Bynes much, which tends to be a good thing, but in a game where the team gets gashed so badly it probably isn’t. Likely moves down on rewatch.
Clay Harbor, TE: Continues to exist on this team and possibly do things that aren’t notable enough to mention.
Glover Quin, FS: Wasn’t out of place, communicated well, but didn’t make much of a tangible impact.
Riley Reiff, OT: The only OL I can’t say for certain played badly. That might change on rewatch, but notable if true.
Devin Taylor, DE: Still pretty bad against both pass and run, I have yet to understand how so much potential has been wasted this year.
Tyrunn Walker, DT: Made one good play that I can recall, but otherwise very little to say. Not enough to move the sticks.
Tavon Wilson, SS: Not much to say on him this time around. Barely noticed him.
Jim Caldwell, HC: Stock Down
As you’ll note by each of these coaching ratings, this was not a well coached game. For Caldwell’s part, he once again came in flat and unprepared. More noticeably, he whiffed on an obvious challenge, giving the excuse it was “only 4 yards”. You know what else was 4 yards, Jim? Odell Beckham Jr’s touchdown when you put your worst defender on him. Or how about those wide receiver screens on third-and-long when the Giants were in press coverage? Good thing we can cash in those saved up challenges for points later in the season, right?
Jim Bob Cooter, OC: Stock Down
What an uninspired day of offense. The running plays were bland and played to the worst aspects of his personnel. We saw a reappearance of both the Boldin bubble screen and outside toss for nothing, to add to the token Golden Tate gimmick play (Cooter is required by law to run at least one). There was no variety or creativity to attack the Giants talented defense. Instead, Cooter called one of his most vanilla games of the season and there really isn’t an excuse for it. The only thing he did right was calling a couple long bombs when the Giants cheated up, but those plays by no means made up for a full game of weak offense with no bark.
Teryl Austin, DC: Stock Down
Austin’s defense once again kept their opponent under 20 points, but unlike the Saints, this Giants offense hasn’t been a high octane. The Giants have averaged less than 20 points a game, so it’s less notable to keep them below that number. Worse still, Teryl Austin seemed to do everything he could to keep Asa Jackson active in the defense and he was abused badly every time he was out there. The failure to adjust to the Giants running game or adjust his coverage rather than allowing his worst player to cover the Giants best player in Odell Beckham near the goal line is inexcusable. A poor game with predictably poor results from Teryl Austin.
Joe Marciano, ST: Stock Down
Marciano has quietly had a pretty good season, but this was not an example of why. The team blocked a punt, which is a rare surprise and should have moved the needle north, but the rest of his units played poorly all game. Coverage units on both sides of the ball were poor and if it weren’t for a penalty the Giants margin of victory would have been even greater after allowing a long, drawn out Odell Beckham return touchdown. His best gunner missed a tackle, his other great gunner had a penalty, and his returner repeatedly let multiple punts get downed for bad field position rather than doing what the Giants Dwayne Harris did and at least try to get in the way. There were a couple good moments, but they were outnumbered by the bad ones.