It’s not over yet, Lions fans. We’ve still got a couple weeks of football and that means we’re still taking stock of where the roster stands after each game. After the rocky start to the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Lions rallied and made it a more exciting football game in the second half. They came up short, in large part due to turnovers, but the team still fighting to win despite no viable reason to is still a promising sign, no matter what the team’s frustrated fans may think. So let’s jump into the stock report once again.
Stock Up: Danny Amendola, WR
I’m not going to pretend like I was a huge fan of the Danny Amendola signing months ago. At his age and with his injury history, my expectations were decidedly small for one of the league’s more consistent slot receivers. Here we are, facing the end of the season, and Amendola is nearing a career high in yardage and yards per reception.
With the offense sputtering and failing to produce anything resembling momentum, number 80 was still out there pushing every single play and it really showed in the way the rest of the offense responded to that fight. It’s kind of crazy that he has only recorded a single touchdown on the year, but being a big part of getting the team near the end zone can’t be ignored, especially with so many other things going wrong.
Stock Down: Tracy Walker, FS
One of the few bright spots on defense this year has been second year player Tracy Walker. His play as a rookie was promising, and while he hasn’t consistently played as well as he did in limited duty last year when asked to play full time in 2019, he has played well nearly every week. This week, however, was not a great one. Missing two tackles is a rough stat line, as is allowing a touchdown in coverage, but it’s allowing a season high 49 yards after the catch that really deserves a mention since Walker has been so good at avoiding that sort of thing all year.
Stock Up: Jahlani Tavai, LB
Tavai had his worst game as a rookie last week, so it would taken a pretty rough outing to end up stock down this week. Instead, Tavai logged his first interception of his career when he jumped a slant route early in the game. I got excited that maybe he was responding to his terrible performance with some fire, but unfortunately the rest of the game wasn’t as great.
After his pick, Tavai allowed all three of the targets against him to be completed and his lack of speed continues to be a concern. Even with that, it’s good to see a rookie dig himself out of a hole, and after a couple of rough weeks in a row, Tavai came out and put up a decent performance that included a turnover and sometimes you just need something to go right before you start stringing it together.
Stock Down: Amani Oruwariye, CB
Oruwariye had a very strong start to his time actually playing for the Lions when he came back from injury late in the season. Rashaan Melvin jumped back into the lineup this week and that meant fewer snaps for the fifth-round rookie. It was probably for the best in this case as Oruwariye was nothing short of a disaster whenever he saw the field in this one. Let’s chalk it up to a learning experience, but you never want to see a stat line that includes four targets, four completions, 83 yards, and a touchdown on only 10 snaps in coverage.
Stock Up: Taylor Decker, OT
Did you know that Taylor Decker hasn’t had a negatively graded game according to PFF since Week 7 against the Vikings? After starting the game as a complete train wreck and dealing with injury, the Lions starting tackle has been on fire and that continued this week. Decker did allow one of the two sacks the Lions allowed this game, but he was their highest graded offensive lineman and highest graded run blocker, both by a comfortable margin.
Stock Down: Austin Bryant, OLB
The Lions started getting a better look at their fourth round rookie and he was one of the players I paid the most attention to... or tried to, anyway. Used primarily as an edge setter, Bryant did a decent job holding his responsibility in that area. As a pass rusher, he was easily the worst in a field of terrible pass rushers on this Lions front.
You expect some learning pains from a rookie, but I was hoping to see something, anything that would make me think the Lions got this evaluation right where I was wrong. Instead, he mostly confirmed my pre-draft fears that Bryant is an athletically-limited run defender only. There’s still plenty of time for him to change some minds, this is only his second game of meaningful action, but the amount of ground that needs to be covered is staggering.
Tyrell Crosby, OT: Crosby looked alright, and that’s just fine. Offensive tackle remains a need in the offseason, but he looked way better as depth than he has all season..
Graham Glasgow, OG: Glasgow played every snap at guard, and that’s huge! He wasn’t very good, but these marks aren’t always just about that.
Oday Aboushi, OG: Aboushi got work as an injury fill in and he didn’t look lost. Still can’t run block to save his life, but I’m not going to ding him too hard coming off the bench.
Wes Hills, RB: I’m admittedly a bit of a fan of Hills, so I was excited to see him come out and get not only his first NFL touchdown but his second.
Chris Lacy, WR: Lacy didn’t get much work, but he was able to get open enough downfield that even adjusting to a badly underthrown ball left him with a catch for big yardage.
Justin Coleman, CB: Coleman allowed only two catches for 13 yards on the day. After a rough stretch in the season, he’s clamped down a bit.
Darius Slay, CB: For much of the day, Slay covered one of the best receivers in the NFL this season in Chris Godwin. The result? One catch for 6 yards.
Trey Flowers, DE: Flowers was pretty much the only defensive lineman trying to actively get after the quarterback, so it’s a bit ironic that he didn’t record a sack despite coming close several times.
Romeo Okwara, DE: It might have taken him eight seconds to get there, but Okwara recorded his second sack since Week 2. Even if it wasn’t really a great rush, gotta give him a shout for that after 13 weeks without one.
Frank Herron, DT: Herron came off the bench this week and played pretty alright. Like the rest of this defensive line, he can’t pass rush, but he can clamp down against the run.
Damon Harrison, NT: Harrison seems to be back to his old ways, hopefully he stays there.
Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB: The forgotten linebacker, JRM played pretty poorly in spot duty early in the year when Davis was injured. This was a far better outing, even with a missed tackle and allowing two-for-two in coverage.
David Blough, QB: Start Kyle Sloter, now.
Kenny Wiggins, OG: Wiggins’ injury sounds terrible and his time as a Lion might be done. The staff seems to like him, but enough to bring him back in 2020? I’m doubtful.
Frank Ragnow, OC: Ragnow looked alright, perfectly serviceable. But he’s looked very good this year, so serviceable is a downgrade.
Ty Johnson, RB: The idea that Ty Johnson has a role in this offense long term is a hard sell to me as he’s been outplayed by not one but two undrafted free agents with less than a week of prep.
Kenny Golladay, WR: If there’s anybody suffering from poor QB play it has been the tight ends and Kenny Golladay. Sometimes you can’t run the entire offense yourself at WR.
Isaac Nauta, TE: When you get as few targets as Nauta, you can’t afford bad drops. Especially when your selling point as a seventh-round pick was solely good hands.
Jesse James, TE: James is down here despite having a season high in receptions and yards. Why? It’s a season high of only three catches for 31 yards to go along with two drops.
Rashaan Melvin, CB: Melvin’s return to action wasn’t a great one. He wasn’t the first of Breshad Perriman’s victims on the day, but he was the worst.
Will Harris, SS: Harris only allowed a single catch on the day, so good for him! Problem was that it was a 33-yard touchdown.
John Atkins, DT: I’ve actually been fairly impressed with Atkins the past few weeks, but unfortunately I chose this week to pay more attention.
Just gonna combine all the coaches to lead into a piece I’m still working on. I know it’s frustrating when the team isn’t winning, but it is promising nonetheless to see the team still fighting and trying to win even when behind by multiple scores. There are no moral victories, so don’t think that’s what I’m doing here, but it’s tough for me to ignore how many injuries the team has been fighting through and how close they’ve still managed to keep it.
There weren’t many moments in this game where it was the coaching that was the problem. On offense, it was less the play calls and more the complete collapse of its inexperienced, UDFA rookie quarterback, crucial drops by its receiving options, and of course a late fumble that kept points off the board.
It was less the play calling on defense in this one and more simple talent breakdowns. During the game there was only one moment I felt was truly a bad coaching move on defense, where on third and short the team dropped into some sort of zone coverage that called for Jahlani Tavai to drop more than five yards downfield and Darius Slay to cover the short flats, allowing an easy completion for a first down that had nobody covering a crossing route at the sticks.
Other than that, the coaching wasn’t bad, the team just lost most of their matchups early. By the time they tightened up, the team was in a hole and trying to dig out. At that point, even the smallest of mistakes is magnified. And David Blough doesn’t do ‘small’ mistakes.