Week 3 wasn’t kind to the Detroit Lions. They looked outmatched by the Atlanta Falcons on their home turf, and while they were losing, the rest of the NFC North was winning.
The Falcons game was filled with a lot of worrisome performances, but there were a few lone stars, who graded out phenomenally according to Pro Football Focus’ metrics. Here’s a recap of what PFF thinks about the Lions through three weeks of the season.
Glover Quin is your No. 1 safety in the NFL
Last week, we pointed out just how impressive the Lions secondary was, focusing primarily on cornerback Quandre Diggs, who was the highest-graded corner through two games.
Now it’s time to give the proper credit to the man who quarterbacks the entire unit: Glover Quin. Quin has been outstanding all year, and he had the biggest play of the game on Sunday with his unbelievable pick-six of Matt Ryan.
As of Sunday night, Glover Quin’s 90.3 overall rating was PFF’s highest among all NFL safeties. On Sunday, he only gave up one catch in coverage, per PFF: A 16-yard screen.
Quin turned 31 this year, but with 19 tackles, two interceptions, 1 forced fumble and a touchdown in his first three games, I don’t think he’s ever played better.
One linebacker didn’t suck?
I gave Lions linebackers an F- against the Falcons in my weekly report card, but according to PFF, there was one linebacker worthy of significant praise on Sunday. Tahir Whitehead earned a 84.9 overall grade thanks to six defensive stops against Atlanta. Overall, he ranks seventh among 4-3 outside linebackers in run-stop percentage. It looks like 2015 Whitehead may be back.
Eric Ebron was as bad as you think
His two drops resulted in 30.3 receiving grade, but his run blocking was just as bad. According to PFF, he graded out at 44.7 as a run blocker and was “frequently beat at the point of attack.”
Ebron copped to his poor performance, saying, “I have to learn how to deal with adversity throughout the game.”
But none of these issues are new to Ebron. If he’s truly committed to improving his game, this has to be the last performance like this for the rest of the season.
Now you see Ansah, now you don’t
After a breakout three-sack performance against the Giants, Ezekiel Ansah was completely shut out on the box score. Unfortunately this wasn’t an instance in which Ansah’s contributions were there, just not quantifiable. According to PFF, Ansah didn’t register a single pressure or defensive stop in his 33 snaps.
Head coach Jim Caldwell admitted Ansah got some extra attention after last week’s performance. “They obviously chipped him a little bit, cut him at the line, those kinds of things,” Caldwell said.
But for the elite pass rushers in the league, that shouldn’t matter. Ansah should be better, although it’s quite possible he’s still being limited by his knee injury.
Zac Kerin isn’t long for this roster
There are already reports out that the Lions are signing offensive guard Tim Lelito, and much of the reason for that is likely because of the game Zac Kerin had on Sunday.
Kerin was put into a tough position, starting his first career NFL game with a team he joined three weeks prior, but the results speak for themselves. Kerin allowed four pressures and earned a horrible pass blocking grade of 35.5 by PFF. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kerin cut to make room for Lelito.
Investments paying off on the right side
While the left side of the offensive line struggled, the right side continues to prove worthy of the price Detroit paid in the offseason. T.J. Lang and Rick Wagner combined to allow exactly zero pressures on 53 dropbacks from Matthew Stafford.
If Taylor Decker can come back soon and play at a high level, this could be the most complete offensive line the Lions have had in quite some time.