The first week of the 2019 season, the Detroit Lions came out hot and looked like they might be a true contender, only to fall short as the game wore on and finish in a tie. Their second game against the Los Angeles Chargers was an absolute horror show, with poor play design and calling, worse execution and flags flying faster than we’ve seen in ages. Players or coaches may legitimately face the chopping block this week in some situations, despite the fact that the Detroit Lions somehow managed to pull a win out of this mess. Let’s get to the stock report, shall we?
Stock Up: Kenny Golladay, WR
Catching 80 percent of your targets is a good stat for any receiving threat. Doing so to the tune of 117 yards and the game-winning touchdown is even better. The Lions barely targeted their outside receivers against the Cardinals despite their opponent being weakened in the secondary.
They didn’t make that mistake this time, punishing every poor soul who had to cover Golladay.
Stock Down, Darius Slay, CB
Slay made the play to seal the game, coming up with a crucial interception in the end zone that gave the Lions the task of landing a single first down to finish the Chargers off. The rest of the game wasn’t as pretty.
It also wasn’t as bad as they made it out to be on the broadcast, and despite the stat line looking ugly it’s worth noting that Keenan Allen is one of the best route runners in the NFL. The Lions just sat Slay on him in man coverage for the whole game with no help. Slay gave up catches, but often little else as he was always right in Allen’s hip pocket. Still, it wasn’t a great day from Slay, who was absolutely shutdown in Week 1.
Stock Up: Tyrell Crosby, OT
After a horrid preseason, expectations weren’t very high for Tyrell Crosby coming into his first start at left tackle with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram on deck. Crosby was very much helped by an offensive game plan that favored the run and quick passes, but when he was asked to hold his own against Bosa he largely did not disappoint. There were some moments that I’m going to have to re-watch to see how much the Lions helped him, but blanking a duo like that is impressive even with help.
Stock Down: T.J. Hockenson, TE
After a historic first game as a Detroit Lion, it was very quiet for the team’s eigth overall 2019 draft pick. Some of this was by design as Hockenson was asked to stay in and block, and with the ball coming out so quickly he was rarely in a position to make a big play across the field like he did in Week 1. He would finish the game with only a single catch for seven yards.
Stock up: Rick Wagner, OT
I’m cheating a bit by giving a nod to both offensive tackles, but it’s worth mentioning for many of the same reasons.
Unlike Crosby, Wagner is a savvy veteran who has faced pass rushers of this caliber before. I can’t recall a game where he blanked a guy like Ingram as well as this one and it didn’t seem like he was getting as much help as Crosby.
Stock Down: Danny Amendola, WR
The Lions went with a quick passing game approach to this one, a thematic offense that would favor a player like Amendola. He was completely blanked against the Chargers, not catching a single pass and only commanding one target. After a breakout first week, this should have been a day where he padded his stats just due to what his strengths are. He wound up with nothing.
Joe Dahl, LG: Dahl had a good day last week and he had another one against Los Angeles.
Trey Flowers, DE: Flowers was not great against the Chargers, but this is a stock report and he was better than last week, even notching a pressure on third down that forced an eventual missed kick.
Graham Glasgow, RG: Glasgow’s durability seems to get talked about more than his play, but he was very good in this one.
Jesse James, TE: James was brought in to be an outlet for Matthew Stafford, and when faced with quick pressure he was just that.
Kerryon Johnson, RB: Johnson wasn’t good last week; he was this week. Pretty simple.
Ty Johnson, RB: His vision issues came up a couple times, but Johnson got to showcase his speed and power on a nifty 17 yard scamper early.
Christian Jones, LB: This is one I’m going to watch more closely on re-watch. I felt Jones did well every time I saw him, aside from one coverage snap where he got outran.
Marvin Jones, WR: Jones had a good day, if a relatively quiet one. He showed up when needed.
Frank Ragnow, OC: Ragnow looked legitimately great in stretches during this game, including opening a hole for Kerryon Johnson TWICE on his touchdown.
Jamal Agnew, PR/KR: Agnew was benched after a lost fumble that was thankfully voided by a penalty. He might not last the week.
C.J. Anderson, RB: Anderson struggled in pass protection last week and seemed to have been mostly phased out despite the Chargers run defense woes.
Mike Daniels, DT: Daniels was brought in to provide pass rushing help, not to end up completely off the box score in every stat.
Quandre Diggs, FS: Diggs was up and down in this one, so maybe I’m being too critical. But when I started counting missed tackles, he came up with a big one that would have been a TD.
Damon Harrison, NT: I’m not sure if it was the lack of practice or what, but Snacks hasn’t looked like his old self yet.
Devon Kennard, JACK: Kennard disappeared a lot in 2018 and I was hopeful after his hot start to 2019 that we wouldn’t see that again. We did.
J.D. McKissick, RB: McKissick only saw the field a couple times and I couldn’t figure out either time why he was there instead of someone else.
Rashaan Melvin, CB: After a strong Week 1, Week 2 wasn’t as good for the recently acquired free agent starting corner.
Don Muhlbach, LS: Muhlbach has made mistakes before, but rarely do we see multiple bad snaps in a single game. I’m going to re-watch this, but it stood out as a sore spot on a weak unit that he captains.
Matt Prater, K: Missing an extra point, not great. Missing a kick, not great. Missing both? Bad.
All of them: Stock Down
It was a win! Stock up for everybody! Nah, I’m not gonna cop out, and y’all should know by now that I don’t let them off the hook that easily. This game was a mess from a coaching standpoint.
The special teams was an absolute disgrace, a poorly coached and undisciplined group that seemed to find new ways to define the term ‘sloppy.’ Jamal Agnew may lose his job for his play, along with other special-teams-only players like Dee Virgin who kept trying to one-up each other with penalties and bone-headed activities.
The offensive play design was stilted; a rigid design and execution built to get the ball out quickly and to run the ball seemingly at random. There were a few well-designed plays and risky calls that worked, not the least of which was throwing on first down while backed up into their own end zone, but far too often the offense seemed built to get into field goal range, not to score touchdowns—and they didn’t even do the former often.
Defensively, the Lions took a risk by putting Slay on an island by himself to guard Allen, but when that wasn’t working the team did precisely bupkis to course correct. If the Chargers hadn’t decided to shoot themselves in the foot until they lacked toes to target, the Lions lose this one in a blowout. Multiple touchdowns called back that were caused by a ridiculous volume of missed tackles, a complete breakdown of football basics.
The Lions got a win by being patient and conservative: just waiting out an error-prone opponent and hoping they screwed up. It worked this time, but those types of gifts don’t come often. It’s not a sustainable formula. Some changes need to happen for this team to make any real noise. I’m not talking firings or the like (except maybe on special teams), but there are too many issues to simply rely on “cleaning things up.”