On September 3, just a week before their season opener against the New York Jets, the Detroit Lions committed their future to safety Quandre Diggs. That day, they inked the 25-year-old defender to a three-year, $18.6 million extension.
As always, there’s some concern that when a player gets paid, they lose some motivation. It’s hard to play with a chip on your shoulder when you’ve been given direct affirmation like that. But Diggs insisted nothing would change.
“I’m always going to have motivation, man,” Diggs said back in September. “I’m a sixth-round draft pick, so at the end of the day 32 teams passed me up, so I’m always going to have a chip on my shoulder. Ain’t gonna be nothing different.”
It didn’t take long to realize he wasn’t messing around. On the very first defensive play of the season, Diggs jumped in front of Sam Darnold’s first career NFL pass and took it back for six.
Of course the rest of the game—and the rest of the season—wouldn’t go so merrily. Diggs’ play remained at a high level, but the players around him struggled. While Diggs finished with a 78 tackles and three tackles for loss—both team-highs among defensive backs—the team finished 30th in passer rating allowed and t-27th in yards per attempt allowed.
But Diggs played through it all, continually laying big hits along the way, and playing nearly every single defensive snap of the season.
When the season finale came, and the Lions had nothing more to play for than pride, Diggs did what he always did, make tackle after tackle.
And while the 2018 season didn’t produce a lot of memorable moments for the Lions fans, Diggs produced one last positive memory to go out on. After starting the season with a pick-six on the very first play of the season, Diggs picked DeShone Kizer on what would be the final defensive play of the 2018 season—sealing Detroit’s first shutout in 22 years.
Sunday may have been the final game for Glover Quin, who has been the heart and soul of the Lions’ secondary for the past six years. But his sendoff may have also signaled the start of a new era; an era in which Quandre Diggs—a Pro Bowl alternate—takes over the mantle of emotional leader among the defensive backs. He certainly went out on a good impression.
Only 1 DB in the @NFL finished this season with 75+ tackles, 3 INTs, 3 TFLs & 1 pick-six:— Greg Maiola (@Gom1094) December 31, 2018
- @Lions DB Quandre Diggs (@qdiggs6)
Since the 2017 season, Diggs and @J_poyer21 are the only DBs in the NFL to produce 130+ tackles, 8 TFLs, 6 INTs & 1 pick-six. pic.twitter.com/sID3rPzaBx