The Detroit Lions started the season getting blown out by the New York Jets and have been last place in the division since. Now in Week 7 the team pulls itself out of that hole with a win over the Miami Dolphins, putting them at 3-3 on the year and leapfrogging the Chicago Bears, whose loss to the Patriots also puts them at 3-3 - their 0-1 division record being the difference. There were so many ups in this game, it seems almost rude to point out the bad stuff, but we like to keep things equal here and there were some negative performances worth bringing up, so let’s dive in.
Stock Up: Kerryon Johnson, RB
Was it going to be anybody else? Kerryon Johnson was a boss today, part of a backfield that put up the most yardage of any Lions team since 1997, back when Barry played. Speaking of Barry, Kerryon Johnson ran for more than 5.0 yards per carry against the Dolphins, putting his streak to five games surpassing the streak of the great hall of famer. At 21 years old, Johnson was never old enough to enjoy Barry at his height (also, I’m old), but he’s putting up numbers that could reset the fan mentality of great rushers in Detroit.
Stock Down: Darius Slay, CB
Kenny Stills gets the TD and takes out a security guard in the process— BetQL (@betqlapp) October 21, 2018
Slay had a career worst performance against the Packers, so most were hoping he’d rebound strongly after the bye. Unfortunately, this game was not a great one. That’s concerning as he’s now stringing together bad performances. His work in the passing game wasn’t great, though we got one great pass breakup and a second that was called back due to a Nevin Lawson penalty. His work in the run game was even worse, taking poor angles and looking slow to recover once he realized he made a mistake. Detroit won’t like to see one of their best players struggle and a late injury doesn’t help matters.
Stock Up: Ricky Jean Francois, DL
The Peanut Butter Jelly Time dance from Ricky Jean Francois is getting a workout today. Two sacks for the Miami native. He started doing it to honor his hometown -- and then Robert Mathis told him to keep doing it to help build his brand.— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) October 21, 2018
RJF came to the team with little fanfare. He was thought of more as just a veteran presence who could help the young bucks learn the ropes. As a journeyman reserve defender, he’s mostly played with your normal ups and downs you’d expect of a backup that’s forced to start in a rotation. This day was precisely the type of game you hope for from your veterans, however, as Jean Francois stopped playing the straight up run defender and allowed himself to cut it loose in the passing game. The Lions sack numbers have been mostly inflated due to coverage sacks making the pass rush look better than it is, but RJF was making life difficult for the Dolphins interior all game and got himself a multi-sack day out of the deal.
Stock Down: Glover Quin, FS
Glover Quin needs to join my Geometry class because that angle was the worst I have ever seen.— TheDetroitLionKing (@DetroitLionsGM) October 21, 2018
Quin has showed his age far more this year than we’d all like to admit - he even admitted as such himself in interviews. While he’s chalked it up to mental processing in a new defensive scheme it’s hard to watch games like this one and think that Quin still has the goods to be a dominant defender. Still a good one, maybe, but he found himself out of position multiple times in both the passing and run game and he never looked like he had it in him to recover lost ground. It was a tough day and it’s not going to get easier against Russel Wilson and the Seahawks.
Stock Up: Jarrad Davis, LB
is this the best game of Jarrad Davis' NFL career? might be— Alex Reno (@alex_reno) October 21, 2018
Davis has been on a roller coaster this season. Some weeks he’ll be a complete waste in the passing game, others he’ll miss multiple tackles against the run, still others he’ll come out and miss no tackles and be solid in coverage. If you were hoping for development, this is the type of game you want to see. Davis didn’t miss any tackles that I caught and while he allowed a few catches into his coverage he was immediately making tackles in those situations. He landed a sack late in the game to really put a bow on it but I’d be surprised if this isn’t his highest graded game this season, if not his career.
Stock Down: Kenny Golladay, WR
Two perfect throws by Matthew Stafford to cap that drive. Both times, Kenny Golladay pulled multiple defenders to him and left a gap deep.— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurkeNFL) October 21, 2018
Some of it was scheming on the day, some of it was match ups, but Kenny Golladay only saw two targets on the day. While he caught both of them for 37 yards he has been a monster on the field for weeks so that type of performance isn’t great. The Dolphins field a strong secondary and Golladay is now being treated like a true number one receiver. If not for the team’s reliance on the run game taking away many targets from the receivers, Golladay may have done more, but for now it’s worth noting when he doesn’t deliver.
Stock Up Bonus!: Michael Roberts, TE
Matthew Stafford hit Michael Roberts on a 15-yard touchdown pass on the Lions first drive of the game. pic.twitter.com/rpDYCU0oYm— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) October 21, 2018
When Michael Roberts netted his first career touchdown, most of us were like “Duh, that’s how they should have been using him all along!” After that, he was injured and the Lions didn’t have that role carved out in the offense. Weeks later and we didn’t know if the team was truly finding him the obvious role he should have had all along or if it was just a single flukey play call. Well, Roberts answered that with a two touchdown game where he led the team in receiving yards. Sure, it was only 48 yards, but still it’s a nice feather in his cap as he comes back from injury.
Ameer Abdullah, RB: Abdullah didn’t do much, but he did get snaps on offense for the first time this year. Riddick’s absence probably prompted it, but still, progress.
Nick Bellore, FB: We don’t get many opportunities to evaluate a fullback, but Bellore’s play both on offense and special teams impressed in this one.
LeGarrette Blount, RB: The touchdown vulture strikes again! This time, though, he also put up 50 yards on only 10 carries.
Graham Glasgow, OC: Glasgow has played well all year and it largely goes unnoticed. Games like this one may change some minds.
Marvin Jones, WR: The stat sheet doesn’t show it, but Jones looks like his chemistry is improving with Stafford. As the team’s 3rd receiver this year after being the WR1 in 2017, he’s handling it well.
Christian Jones, LB: I’ve given Jones a lot of crap, mostly deserved, but I think he played alright in this one. Maybe even good on rewatch.
TJ Jones, WR: Jones caught a pass! A nice 26 yarder, too. Good for him, getting some work on a day the receivers were mostly an afterthought.
Miles Killebrew, SS: A guy we haven’t seen much out of this year, I thought Killebrew was very active on special teams.
T.J. Lang, OG: Good to see Lang back and I felt he did pretty well in his return. His 2019 will always be hazy until we actually reach that point but I’m glad he’s still out there doing what he loves and doing it well.
Sam Martin, P: Martin only got to punt once, but it was a booming 61 yarder.
Don Muhlbach, LS: The punter and kicker both did well, and that starts with your long snapper.
Romeo Okwara, DE: Part of me wanted to put him stock down as I felt his work in the run game was lacking, but considering how he’s used I’ll credit him for the sack and leave it at that.
Matt Prater, K: Prater hit everything. What more can you ask from your kicker?
Frank Ragnow, OG: I wanted to put Ragnow above with his own write up, but even with a bonus I didn’t have room. He was awesome in this one. Not good, great.
Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB: Didn’t get much work but was good when he was out there, including his work on special teams.
A’Shawn Robinson, DT: The injury sucks and if it’s a big one he’d obviously land below. Still, he played very well and was even active in the pass rush later in the game.
Matthew Stafford, QB: Stafford was smart, efficient, and almost every one of his audibles resulted in a positive play for the offense. Smooth and cool.
Teez Tabor, CB: Tabor got beaten with speed a few times - and that sucks - but this was a good day overall for him. Saved a touchdown by Albert Wilson, showed some strong tackling throughout the game - which was a weakness in college.
Golden Tate, WR: Golden Tate is the YAC king and he forced more missed tackles than the entire Dolphins offense. That’s a stat I made up, but it sounds right, doesn’t it?
Luke Willson, TE: Wilson only had 2 catches for 8 yards, but that matches his yearly high for receptions so bravo?
Tavon Wilson, SS: When Darius Slay went down, it was Tavon Wilson who stepped up. That’s both odd and admirable since I barely noticed.
Ezekiel Ansah, DE: Ansah missed his fifth straight game. Gotta wonder if he’s ever going to be right enough to play again in Detroit.
Matt Cassel, QB: Cassel has a 2-5 record in his career against the Dolphins in games he’s played, but he didn’t get a chance to move that closer to .500. Poor guy.
Tyrell Crosby, OT: Crosby didn’t get a shot to play in this one, but Lang did and he played well. Circumstance forced a missed opportunity.
Joe Dahl, OG: Is Dahl part of the team’s long term plans? They’ve worked out a ton of offensive lineman and he keeps being inactive.
Taylor Decker, OT: Decker actually played alright most of the game, but he whiffed so completely on one play (where they tried to draw offsides) that Stafford nearly got killed. Bad mental error.
Quandre Diggs, SS: Diggs has been going through a rough patch and while there were a few bad plays in this one I think it was mostly a solid, praiseworthy effort.
Da’Shawn Hand, DL: What, only a single tackle? What the crap, dude. For real, I think he played fine, but no flash in this one.
Eli Harold, LB: I’m sure he was active but if he played I didn’t see him.
Kerry Hyder, DE: Hyder has not played well since returning from his 2017 Achilles injury, and this marks his second healthy scratch.
Devon Kennard, LB: This seemed like a perfect game for Kennard where he could tee off on an immobile QB, but he overran way too many plays.
Nevin Lawson, CB: Lawson was alright in coverage for the most part, but his grabbiness was on full display once again when he badly held on what would have been an incomplete pass and a great play by Darius Slay.
Cre’Von LeBlanc, CB: LeBlanc didn’t seem to get much work even after the team lost Darius Slay for a spell.
Eric Lee, DE: I’m certain he was active. Less so that he did anything of note.
Brandon Powell, WR: It was always a long shot to see Powell on the field, and now that we have Agnew on IR and Powell remained inactive it’s even less likely we ever see him in 2018.
DeShawn Shead, CB: I was trying to find a spot for Shead and this is basically a coin flip. I didn’t see him at all, but that could just be a solid day in coverage, so let me know.
Levine Toilolo, TE: In a day the tight ends got involved, Toilolo didn’t.
Rick Wagner, OT: Wagner has been one of, if not the best right tackle in the NFL this season, but I felt as if he struggled in this one both against the run and pass.
Tracy Walker, FS: Walker keeps getting more and more work and that’s good, but my only memory of him in this one was of getting run over.
Kenny Wiggins, OG: T.J. Lang is back, which means Wiggins has no more work for now.
Matt Patricia, Head Coach: Stock Up
Matt Patricia came into this game with a plan, he stuck to it, and his players executed that plan to near perfection. There weren’t any bad calls that I would consider egregious, nor were there any clock management problems that I think are notable enough to mention. I’m fully convinced he has very little input on how the offensive game-plan is implemented. I saw more instances of him focusing on working with the defense while the offense was on the field, but it worked and you can’t ding someone for something that’s working.
Jim Bob Cooter, Offensive Coordinator: Stock Up
Since his initial signing the national opinion of Jim Bob Cooter was that he was a head coach in the making. Those who follow the Detroit Lions and watched him every week knew that was an absolute joke, but we’re now several weeks into the 2018 season and you know what? I see a coordinator who has had different gameplans against different opponents. We can complain about some of the player usage, but it’s led to the Lions running one of the most efficient offenses in the NFL, a running game that is not only alive but incredibly dangerous, and a unit that is no longer predictable. I’m not used to seeing competence at the offensive coordinator spot in Detroit. Volume, sure, and even occasional brilliance, but rarely do we see someone who has been consistently competent for nearly half a season, with only a few early blunders, and looks to be improving.
Paul Pasqualoni, Defensive Coordinator: Stock Up
Pasqualoni ran a masterful gameplan against the Packers and Patriots and another one against Brock Osweiler and his Dolphins. The team bottled up Frank Gore, and aside from one big run, which was almost entirely a personnel breakdown, they bottled up Kenyan Drake. The team kept the Dolphins receivers occupied, outside of Danny Amendola, but if your biggest worry is whether or not you can be beaten by Danny Amendola you’re doing something right. What I liked the best was how late in the game, up several scores, Pasqualoni didn’t change his alignments or his personnel but simply changed their responsibilities. That freed up the interior rushers to collapse the pocket and ignore the run, which gave Osweiler fits at times. It was clever, if subtle, and it worked so I loved it.
Joe Marciano, Special Teams Coordinator: Stock Down
It wasn’t all rainbows. While the specialists did fine kicking the football, the coverage units had some struggles. Specifically with kickoffs, the team gave Jakeem Grant too much room to work with. While they were able to keep him from breaking a big one it looked too close for comfort to me. Giving him opportunities like that just on the off chance you can back up Osweiler a couple yards didn’t seem like strong game-planning to me.