So hey, Pride Of Detroit fans, I’m pretty sure few of you were predicting that not only would the Detroit Lions win this game, but they would make the New England Patriots look poorly coached. Betting a two-score victory wasn’t in the cards for most of you, and even if you said so outwardly, you probably had that pit in your stomach that told you how it was really going to play out. Matt Patricia came out and absolutely schooled his former coach, who is one of the best in NFL history. Stock report was hard to do, but oddly it was because so few players did poorly. What a game.
Stock Up: Darius Slay, CB
Darius Slay picks off Tom Brady.— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) September 24, 2018
Big play, indeed. Big play. pic.twitter.com/mOLQTJuYJr
Darius Slay is a lockdown cornerback who ranks among the best in the NFL. Sure, the Patriots aren’t exactly fielding superstars, but Slay shut down everybody, including notching a pick and long runback and a trademark finger wag breakup that ended the Patriots’ hopes of launching a comeback late in the fourth quarter. Coming off of a concussion, there were serious concerns Slay would even play in the game. Not only did he play, he put up one of his best performances against one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play.
Stock Down: Christian Jones, LB
Believe it was Christian Jones that missed the tackle on that Rex Burkhead run, had a chance to stop him for a short gain, instead a big one.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) September 24, 2018
There weren’t many players who did poorly in this one, but the only player on either side of the ball that I didn’t have many positive things to talk about was Christian Jones. Jones was brought in from the Chicago Bears being lauded as a coverage specialist, and while he’s been a starter and logged consistent snaps, there haven’t been many positive plays in any area. Jones hasn’t been good in coverage, and that reared its head in this one on more than one occasion. Jones also gave up ground in the run game during the second half, and with no corresponding positive plays he lands here.
Stock Up: Kerryon Johnson, RB
#Lions rookie RB Kerryon Johnson on the job the offensive line did in helping him get DET's first 100-yard rushing game since 2013:— Rod Beard (@detnewsRodBeard) September 24, 2018
"My job became very easy on 12 of those runs. I had a hole and all I had to do was run through it and protect the ball."
He did it. He really did it. Putting up 101 yards on only 16 carries (6.3 yards per carry), Johnson looked like a playmaker every time he touched the ball. That was more than twice the yardage that LeGarrette Blount put up on the same number of carries. Johnson had a lot of open field due to the offensive line giving him plenty of room to work with, but unlike backs we’ve seen in recent years, he actually made things happen. The kind of burst that Johnson showed was incredible, and I may have been understating things when I noted that he can get from zero to max speed in a step-and-a-half.
Stock Down: Taylor Decker, OT
Taylor Decker did not do his job. Matthew Stafford got clobbered trying to do his.— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) September 24, 2018
Decker had a fantastic first half, along with the rest of the line, and most of the second half was pretty good as well. Because of how well the team played as a whole, I have to get a little ticky tack with this, though, so I’m going to ding him for the poor sack he gave up where he completely lost Deatrich Wise on the outside. I’m also going to ding him for the late penalty that was pretty egregious. Other than that, though, it was a pretty good game. Clean up those things, dude.
Stock Up: Eli Harold, LB
Eli Harold was brought over with relatively little fanfare. A preseason trade with the 49ers saw Harold brought in to Detroit with a clear path to the roster, but very little else. The unit as a whole hadn’t looked good and Harold was known as more of a run defender than a pass rusher. He put up 2.0 sacks on Tom Brady, however, putting him at 3.0 on the season and halfway to a career mark only three games into the season. Harold’s first sack was largely of the coverage variety, but his second one was all him and that has to feel good to take down Brady twice.
Stock Up: All Lions fans
Seriously, look at what the Lions did in this game. They came out swinging and never let up. They got a 100-yard rusher with a second round running back rushing behind a first round offensive lineman. The team looked dejected and disastrous in the first week of the season, and Lions fans have seen that play out before. We’ve seen garbage teams, we know what they look like, and it looked like that. They came out in Week 2 and lost a close one where they had fight in them until the very end, but some boneheaded plays at the worst possible times torpedoed hope at a victory. It’s those snatching defeat from the jaws of victory games we’ve seen so many of. Then they come out in Week 3 and completely dominate one of the NFL’s greatest dynasties. Suck it, New England.
Ameer Abdullah, RB: Look, he didn’t play. His chances of playing went up, however, with multiple injuries at the RB position around the NFL. San Francisco still the favorite.
Jamal Agnew, CB: Agnew was back to returning long punts, but he had multiple returns negated by penalty. Once those get cleaned up, he’ll still be money.
Jarrad Davis, LB: Davis had a missed tackle, and that sucks, but he also had a play where he went full hog on Rob Gronkowski in coverage and beat him up for several yards, so it evened out. A good day.
Quandre Diggs, SS: Diggs actually had a decent day, though not a perfect one as he gave up the only touchdown the Lions surrendered. Much better than the 49ers game, though.
Graham Glasgow, OC: Glasgow hasn’t looked great, but the interior offensive line was straight up gangbusters against the Patriots defensive interior. Holes for days.
Da’Shawn Hand, DE: Hand continues to look very good and if it weren’t for Johnson, he could contend for the best pick of the class. Certainly the best value so far.
Ricky Jean Francois, DL: RJF had a very good day. He missed one play in the run game, but I struggled to find any other plays where he wasn’t winning his reps.
Marvin Jones, WR: After struggling to rekindle that chemistry from last year, Jones and Stafford linked back up in this one and it was fire.
T.J. Lang, OG: Lang looked fantastic and should remind everyone of why he was signed in the first place. When he’s not hurt, he makes plays.
Nevin Lawson, CB: I was going to put him below due to his penalties issue, but I’m going to be generous and say that his coverage made up for it just enough in this one.
Matt Prater, K: Back to being money.
Glover Quin, FS: Quin has been getting a lot of (deserved) heat lately, but it was nice to see him making some plays again.
Frank Ragnow, OG: Ragnow has gotten a lot of crap for his pass blocking thus far, but he was excellent all around in this one, especially in the run game.
Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB: Reeves-Maybin has seen his usage drastically reduced, but he had a nice TFL against the Pats.
Theo Riddick, RB: Riddick was the goat of the game last week after a bad drop late, but he made a play against the Pats on 3rd-and-6 that used to be routine. Hopefully means he’s back.
A’Shawn Robinson, DL: Robinson chased down Sony Michel on a run and I legitimately thought maybe he was replaced by someone else.
DeShawn Shead, CB: Shead may have gotten away with a bit of interference, but he disrupted what could have been a huge Gronkowski play downfield.
Matthew Stafford, QB: Statistically not his best day, though a good one, but he looked so much more poised and prepared than last week.
Teez Tabor, CB: I won’t know until I see snaps how much he was used, but he wasn’t abused like last week’s thumping. Even if he didn’t see the field, could mean a lot for his psyche.
Golden Tate, WR: Golden Tate did some Golden Tate things in this one, showing why he is the YAC King.
Levine Toilolo, TE: He didn’t do much in the pass game, but he looked to be very helpful in the very successful run game.
Rick Wagner, OT: Wagner has been playing well, but I haven’t acknowledged it as much as I should so he’s here for it now.
Tracy Walker, FS: Walker made an excellent special teams play in this one, flying downfield for a tackle on a punt, showcasing his top tier speed.
Charles Washington, SS: Washington makes his money on special teams, and he looked good there from what I saw.
Kenny Wiggins, OG: Wiggins didn’t have to play. That means everyone wins.
Sylvester Williams, NT: Williams didn’t stand out to me, but that’s usually a very good thing from a nose tackle, so he’s here until I see reason to think otherwise.
Ezekiel Ansah, DE: Ansah was out again hurt, but the Lions’ pass rush looked fine after they got going without him. Chances of him being back in 2019 keep declining.
Nick Bellore, FB: Bellore hasn’t stood out on special teams or as a blocker and Lions showed off a ton of plays without a FB that they got long gains on.
LeGarrette Blount, RB: Blount did alright, much better than his YPC shows, but he’s going to be losing snaps consistently to Johnson at this rate.
Matt Cassel, QB: Cassel is here mostly just to pad it out and make it look like it’s more even and not so lopsided for guys who did well.
Kenny Golladay, WR: Golladay was fantastic, showing expert body control on his touchdown. Statistically a down day, though, so he’s down here to make it look more filled out.
Kerry Hyder, DE: Hyder was benched for this one and spent the week on the inactive list.
TJ Jones, WR: Jones hasn’t looked like he did in 2017 in any of the three games so far, and that continued this week.
Devon Kennard, LB: Kennard looked fine, but that’s not as good as he’s looked the past two weeks so we’ll put him here.
Romeo Okwara, DE: Okwara started this game, and notched a TFL, but was absent most of the game even when I was looking for him.
Michael Roberts, TE: After getting his first TD last week, Roberts got hurt and didn’t play this week. Hopefully he gets back soon.
Luke Willson, TE: Willson finally looked like he was getting involved and then hurt his knee. Hopefully it’s not serious.
Matt Patricia, Head Coach: Stock Up
Bill Belichick’s proteges just don’t beat up on their former mentor. Sure, he’s lost to former coordinators before, but I can’t recall ever seeing a team so soundly outcoached and outplayed in this way. Matt Patricia had nearly every play figured out on both offense and defense, and just continued to beat that drum until the final snaps of the game. Dominant. That’s the word for this one.
Jim Bob Cooter, Offensive Coordinator: Stock Up
Snap distribution among running backs is going to make fans mad for a very long time this season. I have a feeling the snap count is largely due to Kerryon Johnson’s injury issues in college, as the team acknowledged it several times in the preseason, but fans hate it. Still, this is a game that fans should look at fondly for Cooter. He switched up personnel groupings to disguise play calls, he had different route combinations, dialed up trick plays that were neither obvious or stupid, and he outcoached one of the best defensive minds in the NFL for 60 full minutes. Good signs if this continues.
Paul Pasqualoni, Defensive Coordinator: Stock Up
I have never been a fan of this signing, but this was always going to be a measuring stick for the coordinators. Pasqualoni covered Rob Gronkowski with either a corner or a safety on every down they ran man coverage. His zone plays are still a weakness, but they weren’t the travesty they have been so far. More importantly, his defensive front wasn’t a sieve and we didn’t need to hear about how bad the run defense is for a third week. He’s shored up some of the worst parts of this defense and made them serviceable. Here’s to hoping it continues.
Joe Marciano, Special Teams: Stock Down
I wanted to go the full sweep and put Marciano stock up since the unit as a whole looked improved. They still looked bad, though, since the chronic issues with penalties not only haven’t gone away, but it looks like it will be a problem all year. It’s basic fundamentals that players are screwing up, and it sometimes looks like he’s actually coaching players to block in the back. It’s not great, and the weakness of this unit could be their Achilles heel all year.
What did you think? Was I too harsh on guys? Maybe I should have ridden the high from winning so soundly in a prime time game, but I always strive to be fair. Let me know in the comments who you think I got wrong, who I got right, and anyone you felt should have gotten a bigger shout out.