It was a sloppy start to the season for the Lions with the beginning of the game going as good for the defense and as bad for the offense as it possibly could. Matthew Stafford threw to Golden Tate on a shallow crosser but the latter got tied up on his route and wasn’t where the ball was going, leading to a pick that was run all the way back for the game’s first points. The Cardinals would lead for the rest of the game before, of course, the fourth quarter. The Lions turned on the jets and never looked back, sailing to a 35-23 win against the Cardinals, breaking a five game losing streak against them.
Stock up: Kenny Golladay, WR
It wasn’t a perfect game for the rookie third-rounder, with some concentration issues keeping him from making plays he should be making even as a rookie. Still, the Lions kept going back to him and Golladay would reward Stafford and the team by putting the team ahead in the fourth quarter with a beautiful display of athleticism and body control. Many questioned the selection of Golladay in the third round as a reach for a player rated later by most, but the Lions had faith in him and he’s already becoming a big part of the offense in the red zone. He wasn’t restricted to just there, however, with a long deep throw from Stafford he laid out for and hauled in for his second touchdown.
Stock Down: T.J. Lang, OG
"We did that in green bay all the time now its a penalty???" - TJ Lang probably— Detroit Lions Fans (@DETLionsFan_) September 10, 2017
Lang was the big free agent acquisition for the team this offseason, but he hasn’t played much in the preseason or camp while recovering from last season’s injury. He’s still brushing the dust off and was responsible for an early penalty as well as several poor blocks in the game. He was credited with another penalty later, though it was actually Rick Wagner as the culprit. Lang is going to be a big part of the Lions’ success this year, so the sooner he gets games like these out of his system the better.
Stock Up: Golden Tate, WR
Golden Tate caught 10-of-12 targets for 107 yards in the Lions' Week 1 win over the Cardinals.— Fantasy Football (@spotfantasy) September 10, 2017
Tate got tied up on a route early in the game that led to a pick-six when Stafford threw to where Tate was supposed to be, but he rebounded in a big way. The team’s leading receiver in the post Calvin Johnson era saw a large number of targets with Marvin Jones tied up with Patrick Peterson. He would pay that trust back by making play after play, leading the game for either team in both catches and yards. He would finish the day with 10 catches for 107 yards and was a threat every time he touched the ball. He even had a successful gimmick play, though it was called back due to a Rick Wagner penalty.
Stock Down: Nevin Lawson, CB
Nevin Lawson, a little handsy. Penalty, and more self destruction. #AZvsDET— Dustin Brondyke (@DustinBrondyke) September 10, 2017
Lawson was an underrated gem for the Lions in 2016, but his start to the season has been less than stellar. He gave up several catches, and not all in the ‘short of the sticks but still there to make the tackle’ variety. At one point Lawson was on the sideline while D.J. Hayden was in his place, which could be a trend if Lawson doesn't quickly return to form.
Stock Up: Glover Quin, FS
Glover Quin has to be one of the 5 most underrated players in the league— About the Scout (@AboutTheScout) September 10, 2017
It was hard for me to find someone to put in this last stock up spot as there were several deserving. Ultimately I gave it to Glover Quin, who came up with a big interception in the first half and generaled the Lions defense in one of their best showings since 2014. The Lions defense was stifling and their secondary was a huge part of why the Cardinals couldn’t find any success.
Stock Down: Kasey Redfern, P
Kasey Redfern officially OUT with knee injury. It'll be Matt Prater punting the rest of the way.— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) September 10, 2017
It took Kasey Redfern four years and a Sam Martin non-football injury to see NFL action. His play this preseason was great and if the Lions had let him loose he was probably going to land elsewhere. Unfortunately, he fielded a bad snap poorly in the end zone, then ran it out and was injured. He was unable to return for the game and his absence adversely affected the Lions game planning for the entirety of the rest of the game since Jake Rudock struggled with holder responsibilities.
Jamal Agnew, CB - Agnew’s stint as the KR2 lasted a very short while and he took over returning duties when Washington faltered, performing much better.
Alex Barrett, DE/FB - Yes, you read his position right. Barrett has found a way to make an impact on offense as well as defense. Not bad for an undrafted free agent rookie.
Jarrad Davis, LB - Davis did not have a good start to the game, but that turned around rapidly. I’ll have more to say about how his attitude is impacting this defense later.
Quandre Diggs, CB - Diggs has bounced back from a terrible 2016 in a big way so far and was locking down Larry Fitzgerald almost every time he covered him.
Graham Glasgow, OG - The Lions dealt with internal pressure throughout the day. It wasn’t a great day for Glasgow, but he held up better than expected.
TJ Jones, WR - Jones dropped a pass that hit him in the hands, but redeemed himself later in the game by hauling in a couple tough catches.
Miles Killebrew, SS - Miles Killebrew struggled in camp and the preseason, but a game-sealing pick-six is about as great a way to start your season as any.
Miles Killebrew continues his role as the third-down assassin.— Justin Rogers (@Justin_Rogers) September 10, 2017
Jeremiah Ledbetter, DT - Few expected Ledbetter to make an impact this early, but there he was making plays in the Lions opener.
Matt Prater, K/P - “Matt Prater in for the punt” surprised a lot of people but he handled duties well. Still a boss on long field goals, too.
A’Shawn Robinson, DT - Robinson was collapsing the pocket and making life difficult for Carson Palmer. Also added a fumble that Jarrad Davis recovered.
Greg Robinson, OT - Stafford was sacked one time and it was on a coverage sack. Robinson kept up his end of the bargain and helped keep the franchise clean.
Matthew Stafford, QB - Wheels did his job after the team’s rough start and would throw four touchdowns in the win.
Jeremiah Valoaga, DE - Valoaga didn’t get much work, but was a strong run defender when he saw the field.
Charles Washington, FS - Washington was fabulous on special teams, including one Don Carey-esque tackle as a gunner. Not missing Johnson Bademosi.
Tahir Whitehead, LB - Going into the second half, David Johnson didn’t have a target and Whitehead made the tackle on the only pass thrown to a TE...for -4 yards.
Tavon Wilson, SS - It was an up-and-down day, but it trended up more than down for Wilson.
Anthony Zettel, DE - The lone Lions sack of the game came by Zettel, who started the game. He otherwise suffered the same “Almost” syndrome that Ansah did.
Carson Palmer just standing there like a dead tree when Anthony Zettel brought him down— Ty Schalter (@tyschalter) September 10, 2017
Ameer Abdullah, RB - We were expecting Ameer Abdullah to have a breakout season, but the blocking wasn’t there and he didn’t impact the game much.
Ezekiel Ansah, DE - The name of the game for Ansah was “Almost.” Gotta finish.
Eric Ebron, TE - To preface, Ebron didn’t get much action, and didn’t play poorly with the action he had. The Lions keeping three tight ends was a possible sign they weren’t using position much, and how they ran their offense pretty much confirms it.
D.J. Hayden, CB - Hayden had penalty issues in Oakland and he brought them to Detroit.
Marvin Jones, WR - Jones caught a TD and a long pass, so it wasn’t a bad day for him. Still, he wasn’t very effective for much of the game and some guy named Golladay is gunning for his job.
Steve Longa, LB - Making the roster was awesome, but netting a penalty in your first game as a Lion isn’t how you celebrate it.
Theo Riddick, RB - Riddick still struggles to run the ball and added a drop on the day. He had a nice TD that was vintage Riddick, but his usage was way down.
Michael Roberts, TE - The tight ends were sparingly used and Roberts the least of all.
Jake Rudock, QB - It isn’t often a backup QB gets on here. Rudock took over holder duties and was bad enough at them the Lions just started attempting two-point conversions while he practiced on the sidelines.
Travis Swanson, OC - Swanson struggled the few times I was able to key in on the offensive line specifically. Will be key during my rewatch this week.
Rick Wagner, OT - Can’t be blocking guys in the back, dude. Even if they mistake you for Lang, it is still a penalty against your team.
Dwayne Washington, RB - I questioned the move of making him the KR to start and I was, sadly, proven very right. Washington was a dumpster fire as a returner and was mercifully pulled before he did more damage.
Jim Caldwell, Head Coach - Stock Up
The Lions came into the second half having made adjustments on both offense and defense. Read that first sentence again.
Jim Bob Cooter, Offensive Coordinator - Stock Up
If we were talking about the first half, this would have easily been a stock down. Cooter struggled to get anything going in the first half and even when things picked up late in the game he still couldn’t muster any semblance of a run game. It was his second half adjustments against the Cardinals stout secondary that saw the Lions making play after play seemingly with ease in the fourth quarter, en route to a win.
Teryl Austin, Defensive Coordinator - Stock Up
Where Cooter was a tale of two halves, Teryl Austin was stoically leading a Lions defense full of perceived holes to a near complete dismantling of the Arizona Cardinals. David Johnson, one of the most gifted players in the league, was not only ineffective, but practically useless in the first half. Larry Fitzgerald has been fighting off father time for years, but he struggled to beat out Austin’s coverages. The Lions came away with the football four times on defense, including putting points on the board by Miles Killebrew.
Joe Marciano, Special Teams Coordinator - Stock Down
While the offense and defense found success, the special teams were not as lucky. Redfern injury aside, the Lions were having no luck returning the football aside from a Jamal Agnew punt return late. Dwayne Washington ran out multiple kicks that he should not have, putting the Lions in terrible field position, and Jake Rudock was unprepared for emergency duties as a holder. Due to Bob Quinn’s influence, the team is stacked with special teams talent, but there were coaching breakdowns in this one by Marciano.