The Detroit Lions came into the Meadowlands as road underdogs and left as one of the only undefeated teams coming into Week 3. They face the reigning NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons as a 2-0 playoff threat, and we can’t really look at it as a sure loss anymore.
The Lions defense crushed a putrid Arizona offense then went on to beat the Giants in their house by two scores. The Detroit offense is dangerous, but so, too, is their defense and that’s something we’ve rarely been able to say. With that, there were more players who saw the needle tick upwards than downwards, but we’re going to look at all of them anyway.
Stock Up: Glover Quin, FS
Great open field tackle by Glover Quin. Saved a Touchdown #DETvsNYG— Zachary Warber (@DetLionsScout) September 19, 2017
One of the most underrated players to don a Lions uniform in recent years, Glover Quin was putting on a show both in coverage and as a tackler against the Giants. One play in particular was a strong tackle on a tight end near the end zone that helped force a field goal and keep the lead at 7 points. Quin’s stat line didn’t look as impressive as his play warranted, but he was a force out there leading the defense.
Stock Down: Greg Robinson, OT
If it weren’t for Ereck Flowers, who started at left tackle for the Giants, Robinson would have been the worst player on the field for either team. After a strong and quiet showing against the Cardinals, Robinson was eaten alive by Olivier Vernon and never recovered from a pretty awful start. If it wasn’t penalties, it was missed blocks and forcing his quarterback to run for his life. Needless to say, even with Stafford’s current bank account, Greg Robinson should be buying him lunch all week.
Stock Up: Jamal Agnew, CB/PR
Jamal Agnew showed in training camp and the preseason that he should have been the team’s first option as a returner. He wasn’t, and I still can’t figure out why. Now he’s shown exactly why he should have been given the job he earned, as he ran a sweet punt return to put the Lions up by two scores in the fourth quarter. While the runback showed his elite, top tier speed, it’s worth noting that he had burned the Giants so badly that he was leisurely jogging into the end zone when he got there.
Stock Down: Theo Riddick, RB
Prior to leaving with injury, Dwayne Washington had taken most of, if not all, of the third down snaps for the Lions. Theo Riddick faced a favorable matchup against the Giants with starting MLB B.J. Goodson out injured and undrafted free agent rookie Calvin Munson getting the start. He would ultimately be a non-factor in New York and even after Washington was out there wasn’t much usage from him.
Stock Up: Eric Ebron, TE
Ebron was the biggest weapon for either team in the first half, amassing five catches for 42 yards and a TD. The team went away from him in the second half, but after a weak performance against Arizona, it was nice to see Ebron have a good day against the Giants. Ebron rated positively as a run blocker against Arizona, even if the team as a whole didn’t do well there, so coming on strong as a receiver was needed. Ebron has never been known as a blocker, but he had another good block against New York that shows some promise going forward.
Stock Up: Tahir Whitehead, LB
Tahir Whitehead had his worst year as a pro in 2016, but he’s shown up in both of the first two Lions games this year. The team needed improvement from their LB corps and got that in spades with the addition of Jarrad Davis. With Whitehead playing a position with fewer responsibilities, he has excelled and was able to come up with a tipped interception against New York. Jarrad Davis would later leave with injury, so it’s going to be an important position to watch in the coming weeks.
Stock Up: Ezekiel Ansah, DE
Yeah, we get a bonus one this week. Ziggy Ansah notched 3.0 sacks against Ereck Flowers, and I’d be remiss in not mentioning him. The Lions needed a pass rush to keep the Giants from taking advantage of their big play receiver, and Ansah was able to provide that and more. He was a terror, and if Flowers lost his job from this performance, you couldn’t blame the Giants. Ansah embarrassed him.
Ameer Abdullah, RB - Abdullah didn’t have a great day overall running the ball, but considering the matchup against the Giants DL, he performed well above expectations.
Miles Killebrew, SS - Deserving of his own write up, Miles Killebrew played like a man possessed. He’s a monster in the making.
Jarrad Davis, LB - It sucks that he left with injury, because Jarrad Davis was playing spectacularly all game. He notched a sack and was the spirit of the D when on the field.
Quandre Diggs, CB - When the team needed someone to come up big in the fourth quarter, Diggs was there to prevent a fourth-down conversion and kill the Giants’ comeback hopes.
Graham Glasgow, OG - I don’t want to jinx it, because I have to rewatch to be sure, but I think this might have been, dare I say it, a good game for Glasgow?
Marvin Jones, WR - Jones caught his second touchdown on the season, and it was a beauty. He was shut out the rest of the game, which was concerning, but he’s still a threat to defenses.
Jeff Locke, P - Sam Martin needs to get healthy sooner than later, but Jeff Locke looked good in his first action as a Lion.
Haloti Ngata, DT - “Get rid of Ngata! He’s old! He’s overpaid! Etc.” Put on this game, then repeat those silly phrases out loud to hear some grade A comedy.
Matt Prater, K - Prater wasn’t content to simply set the record for most 55+ yard kicks in Lions history, he had to do so by doinking it off the uprights and in.
Darius Slay, CB - I got a little worried when Slay had a bad couple of plays on the Giants field goal drive, but he was money until the final snap from then on.
Matthew Stafford, QB - After being disrespected by NFL Network in their clutch poll, the talk was all about how Stafford couldn’t beat teams in prime time. Suck it.
Rick Wagner, OT - Wagner, like Lang, has had issues with penalties. He was great as a blocker, including springing Abdullah for the longest run of the night.
Cornelius Washington, DE - Washington has done well for the Lions, even if no real production has come out of it yet.
Kenny Golladay, WR - Golladay excited fantasy owners everywhere in Week 1, but was nearly shut down against New York. It helped that the team was able to find more favorable matchups elsewhere.
D.J. Hayden, CB - Hayden was red hot in the preseason, but has been pretty awful the regular season.
TJ Jones, WR - You’d be forgiven if you didn’t realize TJ Jones was activated this week.
T.J. Lang, OG - Penalties. Not going to get those favorable holding non calls for Detroit.
Nevin Lawson, CB - I don’t know why Lawson is in a time share at outside corner with D.J. Hayden, though I have a working theory. It’s not a good look, though.
Golden Tate, WR - Tate, like Ebron, disappeared in the second half. Also like Ebron, some of that was nursing the lead, but disappointed he didn’t do more.
Dwayne Washington, RB - Washington lost his job as a returner, then left the game injured after one decent run and little else. He may be inactive next week.
Tavon Wilson, SS - Wilson started the game well, but fizzled as the game went on. He’s being outplayed by Miles Killebrew right now and may not be starting for long, especially if his shoulder injury is serious.
Paul Worrilow, LB - Worrilow has been one of the lowest-ranked linebackers for years and it’s mostly due to his coverage. We got to see some of that.
Anthony Zettel, DE - With as much hype as there was around Zettel coming into this one, he didn’t do much at all. Nothing stood out poorly, but little positively either.
Jim Caldwell, Head Coach, Stock Up
It’s hard to ding Caldwell for many things in this game from a playcalling perspective. He won a spot challenge and kept his team cool and collected once they started to put some points on the board. We’re getting to the point where we might start talking extension, but there continues to be some odd personnel decisions that make you scratch your head. Having Washington, rather than the far superior Theo Riddick, as third down back wasn’t just odd, it was downright criminal. Still, the team came out on top and Caldwell is a legitimate reason why that is so.
Jim Bob Cooter, Offensive Coordinator, Stock Down
Cooter’s ability to draw up dynamic passing plays and exploit defensive mismatches has evolved since last season. What has not is his inability to do anything creative with the run game, and it predictably floundered until late in the fourth quarter.
Like his previous outings, he failed to maximize the players who were winning their matchups, as evidenced by the complete lack of targets for Ebron and Tate in the second half and failure to exploit the Giants’ weak centerfield defenders.
He isn’t used to playing with a lead, and the Lions’ lack of a supportive run game was obvious the moment the team took the lead. Cooter needs to improve, which is why his stock is down for me, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t done wonders to keep this offense moving despite those flaws. It’s like seeing a player come out strong as a rookie but never quite get past that “good rookie” stage.
Teryl Austin, Defensive Coordinator, Stock Up
Teryl Austin not being hired as a head coach for multiple offseasons confuses me to no end. The guy has been able to work magic in multiple ways for years, and he continues to do so here. He had a couple blunders, such as calling a LB blitz in the red zone with Evan Engram clearly poised to go up the seam, and later he would give up a massive cushion to Odell Beckham Jr. on thirrd down, but his overall playcalling and forceful execution of his will on the Giants offense was spectacular.
Joe Marciano, Special Teams Coordinator, Stock Up
Rather than phasing Washington out completely (like I would have wished, but that’s another story), Marciano had him share the returner spot with Agnew before Agnew stole that spot and made it his own. He was able to get Jeff Locke into a serviceable position in less than a week, and there were no major special teams breakdowns. And only minor breakdowns at all, with the unit mostly functioning as well as it could have.