The Detroit Lions were underdogs coming into the Saints game, but very few could have predicted just how incredible this game would turn out to be. The Saints were burying the Lions until a Jamal Agnew return touchdown put them right back into it. The Lions would claw their way back to within one score of the Saints in their home, but the injuries on the offensive line would eventually catch up to the wounded Lions and they would fall back to lose by two scores. There was plenty of good and bad in this one, though I think it leaned quite a bit more to the lower end of that spectrum, so let’s dive into this week’s stock report.
Stock Up: Darius Slay, CB
Darius Slay proving that someone CAN guard Mike. Thomas with 3 catches for 11 yards in a game that is 45-38 in the 4th quarter. #DETvsNO— Andrew Pierce (@apierce61) October 15, 2017
After a horrid game against the Carolina Panthers, Darius Slay came back much stronger taking on the Drew Brees led New Orleans Saints. Slay dealt Brees his first takeaway of the season, in fact, it was the first Saints turnover all year. The Lions would fail to capitalize on that turnover, but after such a poor game in what should have been an easy match up, it was nice to see Slay playing much better against a harder draw.
Stock Down: Matthew Stafford, QB
Matthew Stafford is playing like he accidentally sat on his lucky horseshoe and it is now lodged somewhere in his small intestine.— Karlee (@KarleeKanz) October 15, 2017
Stafford was getting pressured all day and his receivers were not getting open. That doesn’t absolve him of fault, however, as he failed to get rid of the ball when the pressure was mounting and wasn’t accurate many of the instances when he had time. Stafford has a tendency to struggle when he’s playing hurt, and his leg and ankle injury coming into this one was expected to limit him. He lacked anything notable in terms of mobility and was not escaping even the most obvious of incoming pressures. Multiple turnovers just piled onto his poor showing, as he would fumble the ball twice and throw two pick sixes. Stafford would come close to engineering a comeback, but it was too little too late.
Stock Up: Golden Tate, WR
Don't do it Golden Tate... WATCH OUT— Talkin' Irish (@Talking_ND) October 15, 2017
Golden Tate has always had the Saints’ number and this one was no different. Tate started the game with one of the niftiest YAC touchdowns of his storied career. He was taking advantage of the Saints primarily playing man coverage all game and he was virtually the only receiver getting any kind of separation. It wouldn’t last all game, but it gave the Lions points when it did. Tate would eventually leave the game with a shoulder injury, which we all hope isn’t serious.
Stock Down: Jarrad Davis, LB
Jarrad Davis had an abysmal series there. Kid is gonna be very good but not his best work. #Lions down 38-10. Everyone should be embarrassed— Matt Dery (@DerySpeaks) October 15, 2017
Davis was brought in to help with the Lions’ coverage woes and while he has proven himself to be a more than able run defender, his pass coverage has been lackluster at best. It was pretty bad against the Saints and Drew Brees was able to make the Lions pay for it early and often. Davis has a lot of growing to do in this defense, but this is a game he won’t be looking back upon fondly.
Stock Up: Jamal Agnew, KR/PR
Jamal Agnew is the 5th player in #Lions history with 2⃣+ punt return TDs in a season. He's the first rookie to do so since 1951. pic.twitter.com/FJQeGkXzWz— Detroit Lions (@Lions) October 15, 2017
I questioned Jamal Agnew’s ability to track the football last week, with the mental aspect of playing returner being an area needing big improvement. Agnew wisely edged out of bounds to field a kick and force a penalty against the Saints, putting the ball out to the 40-yard line instead of the 25. It was, sadly, one of the best Lions plays of the game. Agnew added a few missed tackles on a strong return early in the fourth quarter as well as a 74-yard punt return touchdown. I’m not even going to talk badly about his taunting penalty. This was a hell of a game for the rookie, who is having a pro bowl year.
Stock Down: Anthony Zettel, DE
Anthony Zettel has been a very pleasant surprise for the Detroit Lions in 2017. He leads the team in sacks and has, for the most part, done an admirable job holding down the edge in the run game. This was not a good example of the type of play we’ve been getting used to as Zettel was routinely whipped at the line, especially against the run. It wasn’t pretty and the team’s inability to get any sort of pass rush going is a big part of the loss.
Emmett Cleary, OG - Cleary got the start in place of T.J. Lang at right guard. He wasn’t great, but hey, he wasn’t why they got blown out either and he could have been.
Eric Ebron, TE - Ebron only had one catch and wasn’t a big part of the offense, but he lands here because that one catch showed incredible concentration, which has been a big part of his problems.
D.J. Hayden, CB - Hayden has been playing poorly for a while. This was just another in that string, but he came up with a huge play with the Lions down by only a TD.
Marvin Jones, WR - Jones did most of nothing for most of the game. Late in the game he made a beautiful one handed TD grab, so gotta give credit even if it didn’t matter.
Miles Killebrew, SS - Killebrew wasn’t that great, but with Glover Quin and Tavon Wilson both going down he was still playing well enough and forced a late fumble.
Greg Robinson, OT - If you’re squinting, it’s for good reason. Robinson is stock up because having now seen Brian Mihalik play we know Robinson isn’t the worst tackle in the league.
A’Shawn Robinson, DT - The Lions never had an interior pass rush, and their run defense was shoddy, but Robinson came up with a clutch pick six to put them down by a single score in the 4th quarter.
Teez Tabor, CB - Tabor didn’t do much of note, but considering he’s finally getting actual, real NFL defensive snaps it’s worthy of mention.
Charles Washington, FS - Washington entered the game for the injured Glover Quin and it wasn’t an immediate disaster. Or an eventual one.
Ameer Abdullah, RB - Abdullah rocked on a 34-yard run early in the game. He would finish the game with less than 55 yards.
Ezekiel Ansah, DE - Ansah continues to struggle and while it wasn’t the complete stonewalling it was against the Panthers, this wasn’t a good game.
Nick Bellore, FB/LB - Bellore flubbled a 3rd and 1 block as a fullback and was a part of the late touchdown by Hoomanawanui with Jarrad Davis.
Darren Fells, TE - Fells had a rough day both as a blocker and a receiver. Like the Panthers game, Fells was gifted a late TD that ultimately didn’t matter much.
Graham Glasgow, OG - Glasgow has been bad for a while, so it may seem unfair to keep him down here. But I missed how bad he was last week, so here he is for a follow up.
TJ Jones, WR - Jones did nothing to take advantage of his favorable coverage assignment and I didn’t see any instances of him beating his man.
Brian Mihalik, OT - As it turns out, there IS a good reason Greg Robinson wasn’t benched already. It really can be worse.
Matt Prater, K - Prater missed a long field goal, so gotta ding him here.
Michael Roberts, TE - Roberts doesn’t get a lot of work, but he badly blew a block late in the game and nearly got a penalty for starting a fight. No bueno.
Akeem Spence, DT - Spence came off a strong week, but he crashed and burned hard against the Saints.
Travis Swanson, OC - Swanson may have had his worst game and it came against a Saints defense that isn’t exactly known for any kind of pressure on the interior.
Rick Wagner, OT - It wasn’t a good game from Wagner, coming off an even worse game the week before.
Tavon Wilson, SS - Prior to his injury, Wilson wasn’t playing very well.
Jim Caldwell, Head Coach - Stock Down
In 2016, Jim Caldwell’s best coached game was against the New Orleans Saints. It may have been the best called game of his career. In 2017, it has very easily been his worst game. Play calling was atrocious, clock management was just as bad, and his decision to keep his starters in the game when it was well out of hand late in the game led to injuries to starters Matthew Stafford, Golden Tate, Rick Wagner, and Greg Robinson. The Lions would lead a near comeback on the tails of Jamal Agnew and Matthew Stafford, but it would once again slip out of control and Caldwell made some baffling decisions down the stretch that seem indefensible such as punting with only a couple minutes left and then burning a timeout.
Jim Bob Cooter, Offensive Coordinator - Stock Down
Jim Bob Cooter has showed a complete lack of creativity on offense, and for most teams, a game like this would have been his swan song. It was a terribly called offensive game from start to finish. It was predictable enough that his play calling is turning every announcer into Tony Romo, easily able to call out the plays before they happen. What’s worse is the number of casual fans who can figure out what he’s doing. As bad as Joe Lombardi was, I had never imagined we’d see a game called so poorly it could compare to the former Lions coordinator, but Cooter keeps trying to prove me wrong.
Teryl Austin, Defensive Coordinator - Stock Down
Ausin wasn’t able to dial up anything resembling pressure all game. He wasn’t able to adjust his coverages to the receivers he was facing. Until the Saints were up by at least three scores, Teryl Austin had no answer for anything they were showing him. Once they toned it down a bit to nurse their lead, he still didn’t have much of an answer. His team couldn’t execute, and what they could wasn’t often drawn up well enough to stop the offense.
Joe Marciano, Special Teams Coordinator - Stock Up
It’s sad that such a spectacular day will largely be overshadowed, but Joe Marciano called a great game. His unit saw a missed 56 yard field goal by the normally reliable Matt Prater, but we also saw two long returns by Jamal Agnew, one of which was for a TD.