The Detroit Lions didn’t put up a great team performance against the Minnesota Vikings, but they did compete hard for a little over a half, especially on the defensive side of the ball. So let’s take a look at the top performances from the Lions, according to analytics website Pro Football Focus.
Here are the highest graded @Lions players on offense from Week 16 (min 15 snaps):— PFF DET Lions (@PFF_Lions) December 24, 2018
1. T Taylor Decker (@__taylordecker) - 78.8
2. HB Theo Riddick - 68.2
3. QB Matthew Stafford - 67.8
4. HB Zach Zenner (@zenner31) - 67.7
5. T Rick Wagner - 67.6#OnePride
As I noted in my grades on Tuesday, the offensive line had one of their better games of the season. Both tackles, Taylor Decker and Rick Wagner, made the top five performers on offense, and they were the main reasons Matthew Stafford stayed clean for most of the game.
Decker, specifically, had a phenomenal day. His 78.8 grade was just barely second to Cowboys’ Tyron Smith (79.5), who earned Week 16 Team of the Week honors. Here’s what PFF’s Brett Whitefield had to say about Decker’s game:
For the sixth time this season (most by any Lions’ lineman), Taylor Decker led the Lions’ offensive line in pass-blocking grade with a 90.0 in Week 16 against a stout Vikings’ front. This past week was also Decker’s first “Elite” (90.0 or above) grade of any kind since 2016 when he earned an “Elite” pass-blocking grade twice.
Elsewhere, it’s no surprise seeing Zenner among the top five. His rushing grade of 77.8 was the seventh-highest of the week, and he actually had more yards after contact (49) than total rushing yards (45).
But it is a little surprising to see Theo Riddick No. 2 on the list this week. The Lions’ third-down back was responsible for 5 yards on seven touches. However, much of Riddick’s value comes in pass protection, and this week was no exception.
Here are the highest graded @Lions players on defense from Week 16 (min 15 snaps)— PFF DET Lions (@PFF_Lions) December 24, 2018
1. S Glover Quin - 82.2
2. DI Ricky Jean-Francois (@Rbjf_99) - 82.1
3. S Tavon Wilson (@tavonwilson) - 80.4
4. DI Damon Harrison Sr. (@snacks) - 78.6
5. DI A’Shawn Robinson (@AshawnRobinson) - 76.1
The first thing that jumps out here is how much higher the defensive grades are than the offensive grades. The defense had five players with a grade 76 or higher, while the offense had just one.
Again, you had Damon Harrison Sr. and A’Shawn Robinson in the top five. But above both was veteran Ricky Jean Francois, who actually led all Lions defensive tackles in snaps against the Vikings, likely due to the untimely injury to Robinson.
Most noteworthy is the play of Glover Quin, in what may have been his final game at Ford Field. The veteran safety notched the team’s highest grade and even made PFF’s team of the week.
“Quin allowed a touchdown in the loss to the Vikings, but it was the only reception he allowed from 19 snaps in coverage,” PFF’s Gordon McGuinness wrote. “He was solid against the run too, and overall finished the game with two tackles and an assist from 39 snaps on the field.”
Interestingly enough, while Darius Slay didn’t make the Lions’ top five on Sunday, PFF’s Whitefield noted that he continued a dominant stretch against the Vikings. He only allowed two catches on six targets against Minnesota.
“That brings his catch rate allowed since Week 14 to 27.3 percent, the lowest in the league in that span,” Whitefield said. “Slay’s 89.2 overall and 90.1 coverage grade, both are the highest by a cornerback with at least 75 coverage snaps during that time.”