After Detroit Lions punt and kick returner Jamal Agnew fumbled for the second time this year against the Los Angeles Chargers, the pitchforks were out. Look at any comment section here or on Twitter, and you’ll find plenty of fans not only calling for his benching, but for his release.
Don’t believe me? Alright, I’ve got some receipts.
The Lions rightfully benched Agnew in that game, but they didn’t give up in him. In fact, the two biggest leaders on the team—quarterback Matthew Stafford and head coach Matt Patricia—stood up for Agnew following the team’s Week 2 win.
“He’s a competitor, he’s a tough guy, I believe in him,” Patricia said after last week’s game. “I think, just in the moment thought that I had to make a decision there, but that’s just in that moment for this game, and that’s what it was.”
Patricia made clear it was just an in-moment decision, and his faith had not wavered. Again, this was not a very popular take in the Lions’ fanbase:
He shouldn’t.— ネギ (@Pradzny) September 16, 2019
What Matthew Stafford did was perhaps even more impressive. Midway through the week, WXYZ Detroit’s Brad Galli noticed this interaction from after the Chargers game:
Going through our footage from the Chargers / Lions game. Matthew Stafford spent a moment talking with Jamal Agnew postgame. pic.twitter.com/X94rLkxwXr— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) September 16, 2019
Stafford talked more about that moment after Sunday’s win over the Eagles.
“Obviously (Agnew) had a tough one last week. I tried to talk to him after the game last week, just build him up, let him know we’re going to need him at some point,” Stafford said.
Well, after giving up a field goal on the opening drive of the game, the Lions needed him, and Agnew delivered:
Along with the 100-yard touchdown return, Agnew added a 24-yard punt return to give the Lions possession on the Eagles side of the field in the fourth quarter.
“I was fired up for him,” Stafford admitted after the game. “It was a great return there, he had another really good punt return that we kind of stumbled on as an offense after that, but he got us across the 50 another time, so I was proud of him. Happy for him.”
“I just had a feeling something good was going to happen,” Patricia said in his post game press conference per Kyle Meinke. “With everything he did and what he does and his approach, give him all the credit in the world for putting himself back there.”