The Detroit Lions rolled into Miami and beat the Dolphins 32-21 on a steaming Sunday afternoon. Here are a few things we learned in the team’s impressive victory.
The Detroit Lions young core is stepping up
The last few Detroit Lions draft classes have been the subject of a lot of scrutiny in recent weeks. While many of the youngsters on the roster have had rough starts to their NFL careers, it looks like a lot of them are finally putting it all together. Micahel Roberts, who was on the fringe of the Lions 53-man roster, caught two touchdowns and another deep pass to set up another score. Jarrad Davis, the oft-maligned 2017 first roud pick, was flying around the field Sunday limiting the yards after catch of many Dolphins receivers. Teez Tabor was a listed starter and while he wasn’t very impressive, he wasn’t a disaster either. The rookie duo of Kerryon Johnson and Frank Ragnow were the two most important pieces in the Lions amazing rushing attack. A’Shawn Robinson, a third year player who started the season as a healthy scratch, was a force on the interior and bothered quarterback Brock Osweiler all day.
A lot of the Lions who looked like they were never going to become contributors to this team came up huge today. The Lions will need these players to develop if they want to make a playoff run this season and be a legitimate Super Bowl threat in the future.
Lions interior defensive line is finding its stride
The interior of the Lions defensive line was the unit who bore the most responsibility for the Lions rough start to the season. They failed to plug up the run and never generated a real pass rush from the inside. Something clicked for them on Sunday, though.
Ricky Jean Francois had two sacks to headline a great performance from the unit. As mentioned earlier, Robinson was impressive on the interior as well. They were able to penetrate the interior of the Dolphins pass protection and remain in Brock Osweiler’s face all game. They still had some issues against the run—they lost their gaps on a long Kenyan Drake touchdown run—but it was overall a great performance from an underperforming unit.
Detroit can win comfortably without Stafford having a big day
All three of the Detroit Lions wins this season have come in games where quarterback Matthew Stafford played a secondary role. Just like the Patriots game from Week 3, it was the running game that stepped up today. Rookie Kerryon Johnson had 158 yards on 19 carries, and LeGarratte Blount had a great day as a runner as well: 50 yards and a score on 10 carries. While the Dolphins rush defense has been an issue for them all season long, it’s a great change of pace to see Detroit be able to take advantage of it this year. The Lions saw a match up they liked and didn’t need Stafford to throw for 300 yards to keep the offense moving.
This doesn’t take away from a great performance by Stafford, though. The quarterback completed 82 percent of his passes for 217 yards. He averaged just under 10 yards per attempt and threw two touchdowns. Stafford only had to do that much, though, and could rely on the rushing attack to give him the support he needed to win the game.