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Lions vs. Vikings stock report: Stafford stinker, Slay stays strong, season sinking

The Lions got smoked badly by the Vikings defense, wasting a strong day by a defense that has been improving.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

If you ever thought to yourself, “Man, Golden Tate is so bad, the Lions should just trade him and try to get SOMETHING back,” then this game was one for you. The Lions defense did everything it could to get the Lions a win on the road against their division rival Vikings and keep the team’s head above water, but the offense managed to look worse than any non-Nathan-Peterman-led group in the NFL. It was a real horror show, and while most of us are enjoying discounted Halloween candy, we were forced to watch a discounted offense that gave up more points to the other team than they scored themselves. Still, like every week, not everybody sucked so we’re going to give it the stock treatment.

Stock Up: Paul Pasqualoni, Defensive Coordinator

I know, this is cheating a bit because the coaches usually get their own spot with their own write up. It’s worth mentioning good the defensive play calling was for much of this contest, though. One of the best receivers in the NFL, Adam Thielen, was bottled up for most of the game and while the secondary played like absolute garbage, the play calling couldn’t be blamed for the individual lack of NFL talent that couldn’t make plays. You could say “Bench such and such”, and you wouldn’t really be wrong, but who are you benching them for? Too many other bad players behind them.

Stock Down: Teez Tabor, CB

I know I always seem to preface this by pointing out that I was never a Tabor fan, but I want to point out that I DID say that he should still be given the time to prove us wrong and develop into whatever he could be. It’s time for me to state the obvious that I was wrong. I had Tabor rated as a mid-round pick that was over drafted in the second round, but I was very wrong. He’s looked worse than any undrafted cornerback that I’ve watched, and don’t make me remind you of guys we’ve seen in Detroit like Asa Jackson. Jackson, the famously atrocious nickelback the Lions were forced to field in 2016, managed to notch only a single pass deflection over his four game stay in Detroit with two starts. In 18 games, with 8 starts, Tabor hasn’t managed a single pass deflection, let alone an interception. He has been nothing short of terrible, grades as the worst cornerback in the NFL, has allowed a perfect passer rating in his ‘coverage’ (a term I use only because there isn’t one for what he’s actually doing to NFL receivers), and is taking meaningful snaps from such talents as Cre’Von LeBlanc and Lenzy Pipkins. Yes, I know who those two are, and how bad they probably are, but if you are neck deep in crap and you somehow manage to get your arms out of the stink you count that as a victory. Tabor should not only be benched, for his own sake, he should be inactive on game days just so nobody gets it in their head that he should receive snaps.

Stock Up: Marvin Jones, WR

Matthew Stafford had a bad game, and despite a banged up Minnesota secondary was unable to take advantage and get the ball to his receivers. On a day the receivers could get little done, though, Jones still found ways to get open and get yardage. While his six for 66 statline isn’t super impressive, on a day where your QB is struggling, you have to do whatever you can to make things happen and that’s exactly what Jones was doing. The loss of Golden Tate has had a very predictable ripple effect, but Jones seems to have found ways to compensate while others simply have not.

Stock Down: Matthew Stafford, QB

Stafford had a bad day. Sure, he wasn’t inaccurate, but he held onto the ball far too long in a game where he had pressure in his face right at the snap. Perhaps he’s gotten used to his line giving him time and the plays were simply too long developing. Whatever the reason, Stafford had his second worst game of the season and was a big part of the loss. His attempted lateral to Johnson put the final nail in the team’s chances against the Vikings, and his inability to make anything happen on third down without his favorite receiving option was glaring.

Stock Up: Damon Harrison, NT

The run defense looks bad on paper in this one. Dalvin Cook put up 8.9 yards per carry! The team gave up one big run to Cook, but otherwise bottled him up completely, and if not for a missed tackle by A’Shawn Robinson that gave up the touchdown to Murray the unit likely would have held them scoreless on the ground. Harrison himself was a beast against the run, doing exactly the type of things you wanted him to do after the team went out and got him. Nose tackles are rarely foundational players, but the team has a strong run defender in the middle to pair with their impressive rookie in Da’Shawn Hand, and you need to take every victory you get in a loss like this one.

Stock Down: T.J. Lang, OG

When Lang suffered his most recent concussion, speculation jumped into high gear that he’d be gone sooner than later. Despite playing well, his simple inability to remain on the field had become a clear liability to the team, and, boy oh boy, if you needed your game to use as an example, this was it. Kenny Wiggins was a disaster against the deep reserves of the Vikings front and Lang’s departure simply gave the Vikings an opportunity to dial up easy pressure. More than just the lack of his blocking on the field, having to be on a pitch count has created a built-in gimme for opposing defensive coordinators. Now, with another injury, we’re going to see even more of not-Lang.

Quick Hits

Stock Up

Ezekiel Ansah, DE: Finally active, Ansah notched the team’s only sack in his return. Gotta build up his resume for his next team!

Trevor Bates, LB: I didn’t recognize Bates once in this one, which is probably a good thing so he’s padding this area.

Quandre Diggs, SS: On a day where it seemed like everyone in the secondary sucked, I barely noticed Diggs. That’s good, right?

Da’Shawn Hand, DL: Hand looked good, again. Going to be hard to keep putting him here if he keeps this up, but we don’t have many bright spots so here he lands.

Andy Jones, WR: Jones came off injury and was expected to be waived, but he hung around and has shown some value on special teams. Credit where it’s due, I guess.

Christian Jones, LB: One of the lowest graded linebackers in the NFL, Jones looked only average in this one, which is an improvement. Some ups and downs.

Brandon Powell, WR: Powell finally made his way not only to active roster, but to meaningful snaps. He didn’t do anything with them, but hey, progress is progress.

Matt Prater, K: Prater was the only Lion who scored points. Huzzah?

Kelvin Sheppard, LB: Sheppard is going to get a ton of opportunities to find a role in this defense. A job is there for the taking.

Darius Slay, CB: The announcers got to eat plenty of crow as they talked about how Slay had been playing poorly and needed to be targeted more often. Cousins eventually, and wisely, simply went elsewhere.

Tavon Wilson, SS: Wilson made one of the only positive special teams plays on the day, so slow clap for that one.

Stock Down

Ameer Abdullah, RB: Finally relegated to the inactive list even for returns, Abdullah’s tenure as a Lion may be at its end.

Nick Bellore, FB: The run game stunk, badly, and if Bellore provided any help, I missed it with all the losses and short gains.

LeGarrette Blount, RB: Blount was bad again in this one. He ran for less than 2 yards per carry for the FIFTH time this season. We’re well past “Maybe fewer carries?” territory.

Matt Cassel, QB: This poor dude had to watch that horror show and couldn’t even do anything about it. Just had to watch. Like us. Stock down, us.

Tyrell Crosby, OT: Crosby finally got work, hooray! He took snaps when Taylor Decker cramped up. He stunk in them, just like the rest of the line.

Joe Dahl, OG: Dahl continues to be inactive and it’s hard for me to find a role for him in 2018.

Jarrad Davis, LB: I don’t have many plays to point to, only my general impression of Davis in this one. There was one swing pass to Cook where Davis seemed stunned it could have been a passing play.

Taylor Decker, OT: Decker had a bad day. A really bad day. Bad enough that when he left with cramps, replaced by Tyrell Crosby, I thought, at first, it may have been a benching.

Andrew Donnal, OT: I still have no idea what role Donnal has on the current team, or any possible version of the team going forward.

Graham Glasgow, OC: Glasgow had a bad day just like the rest of the line. With many of the issues having to do with protection calls, I think more of it falls on his shoulders even if his blocking wasn’t the worst.

Kenny Golladay, WR: The Lions should have had an easy time with a banged up secondary, but instead they struggled all game. Golladay was basically a non-factor all day.

Eli Harold, DE: Harold didn’t do much in this one.

Kerry Hyder, DE: Hyder was once again inactive, and his roster spot is firmly in jeopardy with how the team is currently constructed.

Ricky Jean Francois, DT: The DL did a lot of good in this one, but I only noticed RJF on a few negative plays, and he was especially bad against the pass.

Kerryon Johnson, RB: Johnson had a rough day. While much of that was on the blocking, he wasn’t able to break free of tackles we’ve seen him dust with ease a few weeks ago.

TJ Jones, WR: Jones wasn’t able to eat into much, if any, of Golden Tate’s vacated snaps.

Devon Kennard, LB: The honeymoon is over, and it’s time to be more critical of Kennard when he doesn’t deliver. No pressure at all on a bad day.

Miles Killebrew, SS: Killebrew is barely clinging to a roster spot.

Nevin Lawson, CB: Lawson was terrible, and if it weren’t for Tabor being worse he would have seen a benching.

Eric Lee, DE: Lee was inactive, and he’s firmly on the roster bubble.

Sam Martin, P: Sam Martin is a team player. He saw how bad Joe Marciano’s coaching has been, and in the spirit of camaraderie decided to just literally fall on his backside in this one.

Don Muhlbach, LS: Everybody else on special teams stunk, so I’m gonna put Muhlbach here for the sake of continuity.

Romeo Okwara, DE: At some point, you have to start blaming the players for simply not being able to collapse a pocket in any way.

Lenzy Pipkins, CB: How bad do you have to be to stay on the bench with what Nevin Lawson and Teez Tabor put out there in this one?

Glover Quin, FS: We’ve entered a time where the Lions need to start dialing down the iron man’s snap counts. Can’t recall seeing a player fall so hard so fast without injury.

Frank Ragnow, OG: Ragnow has been playing well, so a stinker like this one stands out. Several miscommunications.

Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB: Unable to get healthy enough to be active, JRM misses valuable time he needs with his already limited snap count.

Theo Riddick, RB: Some will laud his leading the team in catches and ‘taking over Golden Tate’s job” stuff. This is a good example of why he can’t ever take that role, though, as he managed only 36 yards with his seven catches. He ain’t the answer.

Michael Roberts, TE: Roberts was sorely misused in this game, but he failed to do anything with the targets he got and that’s at least partially his fault.

A’Shawn Robinson, DT: Robinson had the best and worst defensive play of the game when he dashed through the Vikings line only to badly whiff on the tackle and give the Vikings a touchdown.

DeShawn Shead, CB: At one point, Shead was cut so the Lions could keep both Lawson and Tabor. Think about that.

Levine Toilolo, TE: Like Roberts, he was misused in this game, and like Roberts, he didn’t do anything of note with the snaps he got.

Rick Wagner, OT: Wagner stunk in this one. Like a lot. You could see the funk through your screen.

Tracy Walker, FS: Walker’s only play of note was a special teams penalty.

Charles Washington, SS: Washington’s only role is on special teams. With how Quin has been playing, that says a lot about his defensive talent.

Kenny Wiggins, OG: The Lions could cut Wiggins and sign an actual fire hydrant and get pretty much the same results.

Luke Willson, TE: With Tate gone, there was opportunity for a tight end, ANY tight end, to take a bigger role. Willson continues to be a bad signing despite being cheap with low expectations.


Matt Patricia, Head Coach: Stock Down

Patricia spent a large portion of the game sulking and biting his tongue rather than working on fixing his stagnant offense. I’ve spoken in the past about how I felt Patricia takes a very hands off approach to his offense, but when it’s going so badly like it was in this game you would expect him to do something, right? I got the impression Patricia keeps that pencil in his ear just so he can make lists of things he’s going to fix later, rather than just fixing actually fixable problems.

Jim Bob Cooter, Offensive Coordinator, Stock Down

We’ve seen a lot of bad days from Jim Bob Cooter. He’s called a lot of stinkers. Very few have looked as painful as this one. From bad play design to bad calls, bad execution with no consequence or good plays with no follow up, it’s like Cooter was writing a book on what a bad offense should look like. With no Golden Tate, Jim Bob Cooter decided to rely on Michael Roberts in the open field, which is his worst role, Levine Toilolo in the red zone, which he failed at, and Theo Riddick as a receiver, which is a role he has never shined in. Cooter has had a lot of progress this season in his design and play calling, but this was a huge step backwards.

Paul Pasqualoni, Defensive Coordinator, Stock Up

With most of the coaching staff taking turns trying to one up each other with suckage, Paul Pasqualoni actually called a pretty good day. If I had a single criticism, it would be with failing to find a way to get Tabor or Lawson replaced, but I guess sometimes you have to work with the ingredients you have. The play designs were well done, he bottled up the run game (outside of one play) and kept one of the NFL’s premier receiving threats in check all day. He did everything he could to win with only 60 percent of his defensive starters showing up to play.

Joe Marciano, Special Teams Coordinator, Stock Down

Marciano has reached that point of the season where we don’t just talk about if he should be fired, but when it’s going to be inevitable. His unit is an undisciplined mess that just refuses to improve. Every punt, kick, or return seems destined for at least one penalty and it’s often from his veterans and not just the rookies. The return game is nonexistent, the coverage game is weak, and the team has more special teams penalties than anyone in the NFL. I don’t even know if that’s true, and despite my normally fact-based nature I’m not even going to look it up because it sounds so true that I don’t think it’s worth the time to fact check.

Wrap up

Do I sound like I’m being too harsh? Not harsh enough? Did I miss a critical play that you think would change my opinion of where a player should rank? Let me know in the comments, and give me your predictions of who you think is going to end up in which category next week when the Lions travel to face off against the division-leading Chicago Bears.

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