Say what you will about Pro Football Focus. You may think they have an inherent bias (not true), you may think they’re amateurs (also not true), you may think their grading method is worthless and just clickbait (matter of opinion).
But what you can’t argue is that they don’t put in a lot of work. Hours and hours of game film is scoured over by plenty of analysts for every snap of each game. It’s wildly impressive that they do this and are able to come out with a product that not only football fans crave, but even the teams themselves are willing to pay for.
So this year, we will be tracking what PFF says about the Lions after every game. All information provided in this article is directly from PFF. Here are the most important notes from the Detroit Lions’ Week 1 game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Top graded #Lions on O:— Brett Whitefield (@PFF_Brett) September 11, 2017
Rick Wagner - 87.4
Matthew Stafford - 85.8
Golden Tate - 77.3
Darren Fells - 74.5
Lions DBs graded very well today:— Brett Whitefield (@PFF_Brett) September 11, 2017
Glover Quinn - 87.7
Quandre Diggs - 84.4
Darius Slay - 83.2
Miles Killebrew - 82.6
It should come as little surprise how well Matthew Stafford did in the home opener, but kudos to Rick Wagner for living up to his hefty free agent contract. Wagner has been one of the most consistent players throughout the preseason and to see that continue into the regular season is extremely promising.
As for the Lions secondary, the news is actually even better than the above tweet suggests. After digging deeper into the film, Quandre Diggs’ grade jumped up to a 90.8, the highest rated cornerback in the entire NFL for Week 1:
After review, #Lions corner Quandre Diggs was the highest graded corner of week 1 earning an overall grade of 90.8.— PFF DET Lions (@PFF_Detroit) September 12, 2017
Not to be overlooked, defensive end Anthony Zettel had a breakout game against the Cardinals, as well.
The #Lions also got a very good performance from Anthony Zettel who earned an 87.9 grade while racking up 5 qb pressures and 2 run stops.— Brett Whitefield (@PFF_Brett) September 12, 2017
Despite leading the team in tackles, Jarrad Davis had one of the worst grades of Week 1. According to PFF, Davis allowed eight catches on nine targets for 89 total yards and an overall grade of 38.0.
While most of the secondary was playing lights out, DJ Hayden (35.4) and Nevin Lawson (44.3) struggled to lock down Arizona’s No. 2 wide receiver. Combined, they allowed eight catches on 12 targets for 115 total yards.
Graham Glasgow continues to be a huge liability on the Lions’ offensive line. He graded out extremely poorly as a run blocker (33.4) and gave up four pressures on the day.
Rookie of the Year candidate?
While Davis had a rough day in coverage, the Lions actually have a player on Pro Football Focus’ Rookie of the Year watch list. And, no, it’s not even Kenny Golladay, who earned just a 50.6 grade from PFF. It’s defensive tackle Jeremiah Ledbetter:
The race for Rookie of the Yearhttps://t.co/qsQ8bEjZbU pic.twitter.com/5gASzNhZGf— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 12, 2017
What made Ledbetter so good? He was used mostly as a pass rusher—sometimes as a defensive end—and according to PFF’s Brett Whitefield, he generated four quarterback pressures on just 33 snaps.
None of those pressures were more important than this one late in the first half:
Jeremiah Ledbetter saving a touchdown. pic.twitter.com/fJ6Kwlg8Im— Justin Rogers (@Justin_Rogers) September 12, 2017
This was a third down play that forced the Cardinals into a short field goal attempt that was promptly missed. That’s a seven-point swing right there.