After being blown out by the Chicago Bears in their last match up and looking like an even worse team now, hopes were very low for the team coming into their Thanksgiving contest. It was pretty impressive how close the Lions were able to keep the game, even with Chase Daniel instead of Mitchell Trubisky at the Bears helm. The Lions anemic offense simply couldn’t get it done against the Bears’ top-tier defense, and when it came time to simply make the fewest mistakes, the team couldn’t pull away. The Bears pulled ahead in the last few minutes of the game and the Lions had one more mistake in them to close the game. Still, not everyone was terrible, so it’s time to sort the diamonds from the trash in this week’s stock report.
Stock Up: LeGarrette Blount, RB
Few players have been as bad this year as LeGarrette Blount. Brought in to be the bruiser who can keep the chains moving, a true 3 yards and a cloud of dust player, the Lions haven’t even gotten that kind of contribution out of him. Blount has averaged less than 2.0 yards per carry in seven contests this season and only had three touchdowns to show for his trouble. Needless to say, fans had enough of him getting the ball instead of other players, and he made everyone look like fools for doubting him this week. Blount would have a season high in carries, yards, and touchdowns. I’m sure we can agree that Kerryon Johnson should still get the reins when he returns, but Blount showed he can be the guy the team thought they were signing, if not consistently.
Stock Down: Michael Roberts, TE
Everything that went wrong in the passing game today happened when Michael Roberts was targeted.— Nick Kostora (@nickkostora) November 22, 2018
The Lions’ tight end situation remains the league’s worst and it seems like every week the group is finding more ways to stink up the field. Roberts went the extra yard this week by taking points off the field on not one, but two occasions. He hasn’t shown himself to be of any value outside of the red zone, and indeed showed that his lack of athletic ability or dynamic route running makes him a liability as his telegraphed flat route was part of what led to the pick six that gave the Bears the go ahead score late in the fourth. Roberts is like Brandon Pettigrew if he were less useful in the passing game and should not only have a hard time making the Lions roster next season, but any roster.
Stock Up: Mike Ford, CB
Anyone else really liking Mike Ford?— Timothy Ray Brandon (@TBrandon84) November 22, 2018
You know who didn’t suck? Undrafted rookie cornerback Mike Ford. Playing more than half of the team’s snaps against the Panthers, Ford seems to have strengthened his hold on the outside after a much stronger outing against Chase Daniel and the Bears. He did give up five of six passes thrown his way, but not for many yards. More importantly from a development perspective, his tackling was far stronger than it was last week, where he missed two key stops. The Lions are going to be in the market for a new cornerback or five in the next draft and free agency, but having a young, undrafted guy with an elite athletic profile like Ford hit would be amazing from a team building perspective.
Stock Down: Matthew Stafford, QB
One thing I noticed yesterday in the locker room after the game — Matthew Stafford waited around until Michael Roberts (the target on both his interceptions) was done talking with the media to go up to him on his own to chat. Don't know the contents of... https://t.co/XRRJOOviuQ— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) November 23, 2018
Stafford statistically didn’t have an awful day, up until the end. While the Trade Stafford crowd will use this as yet another example why the Lions need to move on right now and become the Cleveland Browns of years past, firing coaches every year and creating their own version of the QB Hydra of Regret, this was just a regular bad day against a good defense. You absolutely cannot afford to make mistakes against an elite defense like the Bears and for most of the game Stafford did just that, making quick throws and taking what the defense was giving him. If you were like me, you saw the pick-six coming the moment Michael Roberts broke on his route (Eddie Jackson surely did), as he had ran that same route on the other side of the field what seemed like every play, and Stafford was going his way. With no wide receivers gaining separation, Stafford got lazy and paid for it. Later, he’d overthrow Michael Roberts (who gave up on his route, preventing any chance of breaking up the pick) in the end zone to seal the game. It was a bad day all around, and Stafford just didn’t make it 60 minutes error free.
Stock Up: Kenny Golladay, WR
Golladay is a monster when he wants to be and he decided the second half of the Bears fan was going to be his alone. Gaining separation can be a problem, but catching the football regardless of whether he has separation or not is a strength. Golladay is like a mid-point between Marvin Jones Jr. and Anquan Boldin, athletic enough to be a mismatch all over the field but strong enough to steal cornerbacks’ lunch money if they think they can out muscle him. The Lions are set at one of the outside wide receiver spots for years to come with Golladay outside.
Stock Down: Darius Slay, CB
Slay has had his struggles this year, but he looked truly back to form against the Panthers. This was a really tough matchup for him as he was out muscled by Allen Robinson on multiple occasions and had trouble dealing with the physicality he was facing. It wasn’t his worst game by a long shot, but after a strong bounce back game it looked like the former Pro Bowler was having a hard time all game.
Ezekiel Ansah, DE: Ansah is going to get that big free agency money by someone this off-season if he continues to maximize his snaps like he has been.
Nick Bellore, FB: Bellore hasn’t been a great fullback this year, but he’s put together a few good games and this was probably his best. Even got involved in the passing game some.
Matt Cassel, QB: Stafford had a bad game, so Cassel is going to be floated on certain radio stations to step in. Gotta keep your name out there as a backup to stay relevant.
Joe Dahl, OG: Good Job Joe Dahl played a single snap on offense, but what’s notable is that the Lions moved Ragnow to center and played Dahl at guard when Glasgow missed a snap, showing that he has a defined role as the top interior backup right now.
Quandre Diggs, SS: Diggs has been up and down this year, but this was an up game. Had one of his trademark big hits and seemed to feed off that type of energy all game.
Graham Glasgow, OC: I wouldn’t be surprised if Glasgow was the highest-rated Lions player this week. Glasgow seems to only know two types of games, elite and dumpster. This was the former.
Da’Shawn Hand, DL: Hand is a franchise piece and keeps showing it week in and week out. Lions nailed this pick.
Glover Quin, FS: I’m going to take this moment to acknowledge that, while not good, Glover Quin didn’t look like he’d just found out his birthday was a decade before he thought it was prior to the game.
Frank Ragnow, OG: The Lions nabbed a franchise guard in Ragnow and he keeps looking like a very good pick. Not an easy team to look good on the interior, but he did so.
Theo Riddick, RB: Riddick had a decent day. Think he was a bit underutilized, but that could be because Bears rookie Roquan Smith seemed to have his number.
DeShawn Shead, CB: It might just be because he didn’t play much, but Shead seemed to do well when he was on the field.
Kelvin Sheppard, LB: The Lions cut someone and it wasn’t Sheppard. I’m not sure what role he has, but it’s... something.
Rick Wagner, OT: Wagner has had some struggles lately, but this was a good game from him. Tough defense to do well, but he held his own.
Charles Washington, FS: Despite bringing back Don Carey, which would have been a bad sign, Washington stayed on the roster while Carey did not. Youth wins out.
Kenny Wiggins, OG: With Akiem Hicks out there, I expected Wiggins to be a disaster. He wasn’t good, and Hicks still had a pretty easy time, but it could have been a lot worse.
Tyrell Crosby, OT: With Rick Wagner bouncing back and playing well, Crosby’s chance of an immediate role in 2019 seems limited to right guard, where he hasn’t played.
Jarrad Davis, LB: It looked like we’d get good Jarrad, but then we got more bad Jarrad. Not a great game overall.
Taylor Decker, OT: He was an incredibly tough matchup, and while he played well considering who he was facing, he didn’t play well overall so he’s here.
Bruce Ellington, WR: Ellington isn’t ready to take over Golden Tate’s vacated targets either, but he looked tentative on his routes after taking a hit earlier.
Damon Harrison, NT: What the crap? Guy doesn’t even make top five highest rated players on the team this week? Cut him immediately. (Editor’s note, please find a way to use that ‘sarcasm font’ I heard about).
Ricky Jean Francois, DT: Francois has been one of the lowest-graded players on the defense after his hot start to the year and that trend didn’t show any signs of slowing.
Andy Jones, WR: I had forgotten Jones was on the team. Then I was reminded. Then I wished I had forgotten all over again.
Christian Jones, LB: When Jones played well last week, I had a moment of ‘what if’ looking at the roster. It was a short-lived burst of optimism, and I’m back to scouting linebackers.
TJ Jones, WR: For a moment, I thought Jones could storm back and be a player for the team to close out a disappointing season. Then he played more and put those thoughts to bed. Players named “Jones” were disappointing this week.
Devon Kennard, LB: There was one play that was kind of nice, but one play in an entire game against a backup QB is pretty bad in the grander scheme of things.
Miles Killebrew, SS: Killebrew was shown up on special teams by Don Carey, who was signed before the game and cut after it.
Nevin Lawson, CB: One day, I’d like to do a film study on just how someone can be so close to making a play so often without making a single actual play. It’s fascinating.
Romeo Okwara, DE: When you’re relying on a guy as mediocre as Okwara to be your starter, you’re going to get some stinkers. This was one of his.
Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB: At this point, I’m doubtful the team has any use for JRM in the long term and wonder if he’s another guy who’ll see the axe after camp 2019.
Michael Roberts, TE: And another thing, route running is pretty nuanced, but I swear I saw him mouthing the steps as he was running them in game.
A’Shawn Robinson, DT: Standards have to be higher after how Robinson has been playing, and this was a poor outing.
Teez Tabor, CB: This may be his final note on stock reports as he was relegated to the inactive list this week. He has been supplanted by an undrafted rookie signed only a couple weeks ago.
Levine Toilolo, TE: Toilolo is the Lions leader in snaps for TE the past few weeks, but you’d never notice it since he does almost nothing in this offense.
Tracy Walker, FS: Walker didn’t get the bump in snaps many were expecting. I barely saw him.
Luke Willson, TE: If Willson were cut tomorrow and replaced with Marcus Lucas, a former UDFA who spent some time this summer with the team and has never played in a regular season game, would anyone even notice?.
Tavon Wilson, SS: Wilson barely played this week. Snapped like he was being phased out.
Zach Zenner, RB: With Blount having a great game, Zenner doesn’t have much justification to receive more snaps.
Matt Patricia, Head Coach: Stock Up
Patricia lost this one, and that sucks. It all but seals a losing record in his first season as head coach and we’ve had fans turned on him since Week 1 against the Jets. Still, there is a lot of reason for hope after this game. The Jim Caldwell led Lions were notorious for simply doing the same thing over and over, hoping for different results. The gameplan on both offense and defense was different in this contest than it was in the previous game against the Bears, opting instead for quick hitting ball control all game instead of the failed approach they used last time that kept Stafford on his back. If it had been mistake free from the players, it very well could have been a win, though ultimately that is not what happened.
Jim Bob Cooter, Offensive Coordinator: Stock Down
Fire him into the sun.
Paul Pasqualoni, Defensive Coordinator: Stock Down
If you can’t scheme for Chase Daniel and Taquan Mizzell, you have no business directing an NFL defense every week.
Devin Fitzsimmons, Special Teams Coordinator: Stock Up
This unit seems to have turned a corner, and while we won’t know how much of that has to do with Fitzsimmons’ actual coaching ability, he’s the guy at the helm during the improvement, so we’re going to go with that until proven otherwise.