These weekly stock reports are meant to be a critical look at what players did well in a given game and who struggled. Normally, we throw in a few of each and then hit as many players as possible in the latter part of the article, but that format simply won’t do this game justice.
The Lions victory over the Bears in Chicago was such an up and down affair that we’re going to have to switch it up just to make sure that everyone gets their due praise or lashings. So today we’re going to do five up and five down, rather than the usual three. Bonus!
Stock Up: DJ Hayden, CB
New video by NFL: D.J. Hayden Scoops & Scores Off Mitchell Trubisky's Fumble! | Lions vs. Bears | NFL Wk 11 Highlights https://t.co/Xa1SisHJB5— Alessandra Giana (@JackandRoseLLC) November 19, 2017
The first year Lion and former Raiders first-round pick has been playing quite well in relief duty of starter Nevin Lawson. He has been gaining snaps on the former stalwart as Lawson’s play has declined, and Hayden capped off his strong play with a fumble returned for a touchdown. Down 10-0, the team needed some kind of spark to get moving, and Hayden was the guy to do it.
Stock Down: Jarrad Davis, LB
Good of Jarrad Davis to ignore Cohen in favor of taking out a screen blocker— Redruckus81 (@Redruckus81) November 19, 2017
The team’s defensive signal caller has been struggling in part due to the lack of pass rush the team has been able to muster. It’s similar to the drop off that Tahir Whitehead had in 2016 for the same reason, but this was probably his worst game to date. Multiple missed tackles and poor play in coverage can’t be attributed to the line’s lack of pressure, and Davis needs to step up.
Stock Up: Eric Ebron, TE
I’m not going to lie, I was on that Ebron hate train in the beginning of the season but man has he turned it around. Keep it up ✊.— Lions Pride (@LionsPride) November 19, 2017
Past 3 games:
9 receptions 123 Yards 1 TD.
Ebron had one of the worst starts to a season you could have had and has climbed so far into his own head that it seemed he was ready to mentally check out completely. The team has been building his confidence for weeks, and he repaid their renewed trust by catching several difficult passes during the day and acting as a reliable target for Matthew Stafford. Ebron has been playing well for several weeks in a row and seems to be trending upwards.
Stock Down: Anthony Zettel, DE
The maddening thing about @Zettel98 (& Hyder last year) is his devotion to chasing plays away from him rather than being disciplined and minding backside/outside contain. Unless he's being coached to do that, failure to do so is 100% attention and effort...0% ability.— John Henry Smith (@jhsthethird) November 19, 2017
When talking about how improved Anthony Zettel has been as a player, it’s often pointed to just how well he has been playing against the run this year. If you wondered what people meant, this is the game to watch to see what he would look like if he hadn’t improved at all. Zettel was terrible setting the edge against the Bears, and you could argue he was the worst defensive linemen in a game that saw a cornerback lead the team in pressures.
Stock Up: TJ Jones, WR
I had mentioned TJ Jones as a breakout candidate against the Bears and he did not disappoint. While the other Jones was more productive, and worthy of praise in his own right, it’s notable that even after Kenny Golladay returned last week—and Jones dropped in usage—he was still able to bounce right back and put on a strong performance.
Stock Down: Jeremiah Valoaga, DE
#Bears rookie QB Mitch Trubisky was hit in the back of his knees by defensive end Jeremiah Valoaga. Late, dangerous.— Adam Jahns (@adamjahns) November 19, 2017
With Ezekiel Ansah still dealing with an injury, it was up to Cornelius Washington and Jeremiah Valoaga to carry that workload. They both disappointed, but I couldn’t point to a single positive play on the day for the UDFA rookie, while I could easily point to multiple poor plays. He struggled both against the run and the pass and notched a penalty to boot.
Stock Up: Darius Slay, CB
The soon-to-be-Pro-Bowler put on a show from the first snap against Mitchell Trubisky. Like DeShone Kizer, Trubisky didn’t shy away from throwing to Darius Slay, but he found very little success in doing so. The only knock on Slay in this game was his inability to pull in a late interception, but he’s beating himself up enough over that.
Stock Down: T.J. Lang, OG
T.J Lang missed a huge block on the previous drive, which could have been a TD drive and now gets called for holding. ♀️— Diana (@amaizinblue) November 19, 2017
While he has been one of the best linemen on the season for the Lions, this was a putrid game for the former Packer. A penalty and several whiffed blocks hints that he may not have been 100% after returning from a concussion this week, but this is going to be a game he’s watching in the film room on a loop without running out of areas he needs to improve.
Stock Up: Matt Prater, K
Matt Prater hit a 52-yard field goal into the wind to give the Lions the lead in the fourth quarter. We often talk about just how good Prater is, and while a 52 yarder seems like chump change to the record-setting kicker, it’s more than worthy of awe the conditions he faced to make that kick with distance to spare. In a year full of great moments for the man, this may have been Matt Prater’s best moment as a Lion so far.
Stock Down: Tahir Whitehead, LB
Tahir Whitehead remembered he forgot to close his garage door in the middle of this play pic.twitter.com/uw7G7p11bs— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) November 19, 2017
Tahir Whitehead has been having a mostly good season, but his bad days always seem to be just the worst. This was one of those games. Mostly bad in coverage and absolutely lost at times to the point of comedy, you wouldn’t expect a pro with as much experience as he has to be so outright confused in a game.
Taylor Decker, OT - Decker looked to be back to form after some limited action last week.
Quandre Diggs, CB - Diggs has a reputation as being a hard-hitting beast of a tackler, and that continued against the Bears.
Darren Fells, TE - Fells caught a nice screen that he turned into 9 yards after catching no passes last week.
Kenny Golladay, WR - Golladay had a bad drop, but he is becoming a recognized deep threat that can help dictate the coverages the Lions offense goes up against.
Marvin Jones, WR - Jones caught yet another long TD pass in what is trending to a career best season.
Jeremiah Ledbetter, DT - Ledbetter shared a sack with Cornelius Washington, one of the few bright spots on the defensive line in this one.
Steve Longa, LB - If it’s a special teams play, there’s a better than not chance it is Steve Longa making the tackle.
Sam Martin, P - After knocking off some rust, Martin looks to be right back to his previous stellar play including a booming punt that rolled out of bounds inside the 5-yard line.
Theo Riddick, RB - Riddick may be taking over rushing duties from Abdullah soon.
Teez Tabor, CB - Tabor made not one, not two, but three plays on the day. He’s still not looking close to breaking the lineup at corner, but he made plays as a blitzer and on special teams in this one.
Ameer Abdullah, RB - Abdullah has been trending down for weeks. Despite a few nice moments in the red zone, his play for four quarters has been more bad than good.
Jamal Agnew, CB - It’s always nice to have a defender who can play on offense at times, but Agnew dropped one punt and nearly lost another earlier in the game. No bueno.
Miles Killebrew, SS - Killebrew badly whiffed on a tackle in the open field that resulted in a first down. The safety has been pretty inconsistent in year two.
A’Shawn Robinson, DT - While previously we’ve seen everyone but Robinson struggle, he was getting washed out of run plays easily against the Bears.
Akeem Spence, DT - We might be near bottoming out in terms of Spence’s stock pretty soon and he may be one of the worst starting defensive tackles in the NFL.
Travis Swanson, OC - Like Spence, we’re close to hitting the floor in talking about Swanson’s play this season. It’s pretty much expected at this point.
Khyri Thornton, DT - I only noticed Thornton a few times, and none of them were positive plays.
Rick Wagner, OT - Wagner has been wildly inconsistent this year, but this was another stinker.
Cornelius Washington, DE - While he had the shared sack, most of the times I saw Washington it was when he was chasing down someone that just ran past him.
Paul Worrilow, LB - Worrilow was noticeably worse than Jalen Reeves-Maybin has been in his past few games.
Zach Zenner, RB - While he made up for it somewhat with a key block later in the game, Zenner’s whiffed block early led to a turnover and that’s not good.
Jim Caldwell, Head Coach: Stock Up
There were plenty of frustrating decisions I could pick apart in this game and numerous issues I had with his approach, but I think the positives outweighed the negatives for Caldwell this week.
Known for his steadfastness, Caldwell maintained his team’s composure as they went down early in the game, and he changed up his play calling to bring them back into it. When TJ Jones ‘caught’ a pass—it hit the dirt and may have been overturned if challenged—he had his team quickly line up and get a snap off before it could be replayed.
While his team has struggled in back to back games against woeful teams, Caldwell somehow led his team to victory despite what seemed like insurmountable odds. Two weeks in a row his team has given up 200+ yards on the ground, but still somehow found a way to win. Two weeks in a row the team has overcome a poor start and changed gears on offense to turn the tide. Caldwell is frustrating.
Jim Bob Cooter, Offensive Coordinator: Stock Up
While the run game is still pretty much terrible, you really have to hand it to Jim Bob Cooter with the types of creative ways the team is able to move the football. Fielding a healthy offense for the first time this year, his team was able to challenge the Bears vertically in a number of different ways utilizing varied personnel groupings.
At different moments, he featured Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, Eric Ebron, TJ Jones, and Kenny Golladay to great effect. More of this, please. If the Lions ever figure out that you can get positive yardage on run plays, this offense can be seriously dangerous.
Teryl Austin, Defensive Coordinator: Stock Down
For the second week in a row, Austin’s defense allowed more than 200 yards on the ground. Several of the biggest plays were due more to poor execution than poor play calling, but the discipline of a defense ultimately falls on their coordinator and the volume of missed tackles speaks volumes of the team’s preparation.
Facing big, powerful backs in a lead role with a small, shifty back in reserve last week should have given the Lions an advantage coming into a game against Jordan Howard and and Tarik Cohen, but Austin’s guys played undisciplined, erratic football. Again.
Joe Marciano, Special Teams Coordinator: Stock Down
Almost every week this year we’ve praised the special teams contributions that Joe Marciano has put together, enough so that we need to start holding him to a higher standard. His units made several plays in this game and it was overall a positive game in every phase. There were some cracks in this one that ought to be addressed—and likely will be, given how Marciano has been this year.
Jamal Agnew bobbled one return that he was thankfully able to corral before getting lit up. Later, he fumbled a punt and had to fall on it. Agnew struggled with that a bit in camp and it’s shown up a couple times this year. I’d like to have seen it eliminated completely by now. I’m nitpicking a bit, obviously, but I consider it a stock down when most weeks there’s nothing to talk about other than how great his unit is and this week there’s a thing.