The Lions have been reeling after back to back losses and expectations weren’t very high coming into the game. They still managed to fight and scrape for a complete game before coming up short in the final minutes. Aside from a few mental breakdowns, the defense performed better than expected while the offense struggled mightily all game. It’s likely this is the final game as a Lion for at least one player or coach, so we’re going to take a look at who shined and who bombed.
Stock Up: Brian Mihalik, OT
Brian Mihalik is going to be around a while. #Quinn had found something. This is TJ #Watt pic.twitter.com/qeLA0SVz1B— pfnnewmedia (@pfnnewmedia) October 30, 2017
The Lions use a quick passing game, so they don’t really need an offensive tackle to play fantastic. They just need them to play alright, and that’s exactly what they got out of Mihalik against the Steelers. It wasn’t a clean game, and it was hyped a bit more than it should have been by the commentators, but it was a good enough game for the Lions to run their offense.
Stock Down: The Tight Ends
Five targets for Lions tight ends, 3 drops and no catches. Yes, I'm going to keep doing this.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) October 30, 2017
Just all of them. Eric Ebron did okay as a blocker against the Steelers, but man did these guys crap the bed as receivers. In the first half, the team targeted their tight ends five times and it resulted in three drops with no catches. This included drops by all three tight ends, one of which was in the end zone by Darren Fells. The second half wasn’t much better, with a ball going off Ebron’s fingertips in the end zone right after Michael Roberts was planted three feet into the turf. It’s a soft group right now. Eric Ebron had a late rally, but this might be his final week in Detroit.
Stock Up: TJ Jones, WR
Marvin Jones finished with 6/128 and TJ Jones had 4/88. Marvin also led the Lions with 11 targets https://t.co/R9HeIMAmkY— Nick Shlain (@electricsnuff) October 30, 2017
TJ Jones had a career game, and has quietly been having a very good season. Every training camp, we get a “camp cockroach,” a player who does well in camp but then disappears when the lights turn on. We’ve seen it with Patrick Edwards and others, and we’ve even seen it before with TJ Jones. Against the Steelers, with the Sunday Night Lights on bright, the dude came up big and was one of the most dangerous receivers on the field, carving up the Steelers secondary.
Stock Down: Miles Killebrew, SS
Antonio Brown just ate Miles Killebrew alive. Next play Bell TD. Bam! That was easy.— Steve Garagiola (@SteveGaragiola) October 30, 2017
The honeymoon may be over for second-year safety Miles Killebrew as he had what is probably his worst game as a pro. His coverage wasn’t superb, including a long pass given up to Antonio Brown where he lost the ball in the air (or didn’t adjust to it fast enough). He also missed a key tackle or two and generally struggled when on the field. It’s not what we’ve come to expect from Killebrew, but let’s hope he adjusts quickly.
Stock Up: Darius Slay, CB
Darius Slay trolling Antonio Brown over the flag is hilarious pic.twitter.com/qPRJWKshAN— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) October 30, 2017
Not only did we get multiple Darius Slay finger wags, but we had what may have been my favorite moment of the weekend. Antonio Brown interfered in the red zone against Darius Slay, but caught the pass. Slay interrupted him mid celebration to kindly point out that it was not, in fact, a touchdown. Imagining Antonio Brown’s face while that happened makes me smile.
Stock Down: Dwayne Washington, RB
Not that he's been great, but really have to wonder why the Lions went with Dwayne Washington over Zach Zenner as the No. 3 back...— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) October 30, 2017
Zach Zenner had 10 rushes on the season and did very little with them. While Dwayne Washington was recovering from injury, the talk was all about how nobody could wait until he’s back, giving Zenner some competition. Washington came back, only to receive multiple red zone runs that came up with nothing. I’m not sure what the Lions have been doing with their running backs, but whatever it is they don’t have the running backs to do it. What lands Washington here is that it wasn’t just the poor blocking that caused his runs to fail, we once again saw issues with his vision that caused him to struggle last season, and he seemed to have lost that ability to keep his feet moving he showcased this preseason.
Jamal Agnew, CB/KR/RB - Agnew did well as a returner, but added a gimmick play for a first down to his repertoire.
Ezekiel Ansah, DE - Expectations have been pretty low for Ansah and his pass rushing wasn’t spectacular. He made some plays in the run game, however, so maybe a turn?
Quandre Diggs, CB - Diggs gave up a massive, game changing 97-yard TD, but his play before and after that was stellar so I’m not going to break his back for it.
Marvin Jones, WR - Jones has had his moments, but has mostly been kept in check by opposing No. 1 corners. He was able to come out of his shell somewhat against Pittsburgh.
T.J. Lang, OG - Lang has been playing well despite some flag issues, but I was more worried how he would play coming back from injury, and he did well.
Matt Prater, K- Prater made something like 43 field goals. Or five. Whatever, he was awesome.
Glover Quin, FS - Quin deserves a mention every time he plays well, but it seems like we’re piling it on, doesn’t it?
Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB - Deserving of a write up on his own, the rookie LB made a bunch of plays on a handful of snaps. Similar to Miles Killebrew last year.
Theo Riddick, WR - I think I’m done calling Riddick a RB who can catch out of the backfield. He’s a receiver who lines up behind the line of scrimmage. He’s good at that.
Ameer Abdullah, RB - Abdullah wasn’t much of an impact player in this one and couldn’t do any damage whether his blocking was there or not.
Nick Bellore, LB/FB - We didn’t see much of Bellore, but the luster of him at FB has completely worn off.
Graham Glasgow, OG - Individually, I didn’t see much to like with Glasgow. It wasn’t his worst game, but he’s still a huge liability.
Nevin Lawson, CB - Lawson was just crushed on the opening drive of the game. He played better as the game went on, but not as good as his high expectations have been.
Sam Martin, P - Martin started the game out strong, but it didn’t last.
A’Shawn Robinson, DT - Robinson managed to get himself ejected when the game was basically over. What a moron.
Dan Skipper, OT - Skipper didn’t get a lot of preparation, but he was pretty bad when he was in.
Matthew Stafford, QB - Over 400 yards and no touchdowns. Stafford played fine, but completely fell apart in the red zone.
Golden Tate, WR - Tate was alright as a receiver, but managed an excruciating fumble that almost completely ended the Lions’ hopes of a comeback.
Jim Caldwell, Head Coach - Stock Down
Caldwell went for it when he shouldn’t have then didn’t when he should have. The offensive playcalling in the red zone was absolutely disgraceful, and he seemed to ignore game situations routinely. This was most evident in the red zone, but there was never a sense of urgency from Caldwell and the fact the team couldn’t score a touchdown is no surprise when your coach is completely toothless.
Jim Bob Cooter, Offensive Coordinator - Stock Down
Are we in the “Fire Cooter” range yet? You bet. Cooter called an abysmal game and you could put an entire seminar together on how to blow red zone opportunities with how this game turned out. There were no adjustments, and Cooter insisted on drawing up plays for his tight ends when they played like absolute garbage for almost the entire game. It was a horror show on offense for what seems like every game in a row and the team only had points because they have an elite kicker.
Teryl Austin, Defensive Coordinator - Stock Up
There was one huge breakdown that resulted in a long touchdown, but that wasn’t due to any playcalling deficiencies. Outside of that play, the Lions were largely able to keep the Steelers in check. There was one bad call that saw Miles Killebrew singled up with Antonio Brown deep, and there are a few that you could point to as being questionable, but those are easily outweighed by the differing fronts he was showing and how well he had his players set up to tackle the Steelers potent playmakers. They held Le’Veon Bell to only three yards per carry and defended every wide receiver not named JuJu Smith-Schuster well.
Joe Marciano, Special Teams Coordinator - Stock Up
Marciano had another strong night with both his coverage and kicking squads. Aside from one Sam Martin flub, almost every single special teams snap was nearly the best possible outcome aside from points. Very little can be said negatively of his units in this one.