clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Detroit Lions Unsung Hero of the Week: Kicking the Lions while they’re down

It’s been too long since I’ve awarded Sam Martin unsung hero of the week.

Dallas Cowboys v Detroit Lions Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

I always start my articles with a brief sentence or two recapping the current state of the Lions, but it’s getting pretty repetitive since the recap has basically been “they’re bad” for the last two months now.

On the bright side, the Lions are equipped to be bad with some of the best specialists in the league in Sam Martin and Matt Prater. I said all offseason that Sam Martin was the most likely Detroit Lion to have a bounce back year, and he certainly has bounced back this year.

Detroit Lions Unsung Hero of Week 14: Sam Martin

Martin struggled in the season opener but has continually improved as the season has gone on. Sunday was a good day for Martin as he averaged 49.6 gross yards per punt. That’s his second best this season only to the Lions’ Week 7 game, also against the Minnesota Vikings, in which he averaged 50.0 gross yards.

Unfortunately, the Lions’ coverage units weren’t grooving as well as Martin was Sunday. The gunners struggled to get downfield and whiffed on a few tackles. Arguably the worst miscue of the day for the coverage team took place towards the middle of the game, in which Martin hit a sub-optimal ball that traveled ‘only’ 40 yards past the line of scrimmage, prompting the Vikings returner to let it roll. It hit the ground and was poised to make at least a 10-15 yard roll in favor of the Lions, but it hit an unaware gunner in the leg and was downed only about two yards from where it hit the turf.

Martin’s net average only makes the coverage struggles stand out more—in the earlier matchup when Martin averaged 50 yards gross, the net average was 47.0 yards. Sunday, the gross was 49.6 but the net was 43.4 yards. That’s quite the difference.

Fortunately for the Lions, Martin is playing (punting?) some of his best football right now. Unfortunately for the Lions, the whole unit can’t seem to get in sync, representative of how the entire season has gone for this team.

Pride of Detroit Direct

Sign up now for a 7-day free trial of Pride of Detroit Direct, with exclusive updates from Jeremy Reisman on the ground at Allen Park, instant reactions after each game, and in-depth Lions analysis from film expert Jon Ledyard.