The Detroit Lions hadn’t had many breakout performances from their defense through the first four games of the season, but Sunday’s contest against the Jacksonville Jaguars was a revelation. Sure, it comes with the caveat that it was against a bad Jaguars team, but Jacksonville was also a team that had seen some significant success on offense this year. Are they as good as their 10th overall ranking in DVOA suggested? Probably not. But the Lions certainly deserve some credit for doing what other teams couldn’t against the Jaguars—mainly, stopping the run.
And a few individual players did indeed received some national credit. PFF released their “Team of the Week” on Monday, and it featured two Lions defenders: defensive end Trey Flowers and linebacker Jamie Collins Sr.
Flowers, who was the highest-graded edge defender of Week 6 (92.0), was all over the field. He pressured the quarterback, resulting in a strip sack—one of the biggest plays of the game. He was fantastic against the run, as always. And he even shined in coverage, as head coach Matt Patricia noted during his Monday press conference.
“I’d say one of my more favorite plays I saw was he actually had a play where he was in coverage, there was a crosser coming from the other side and he looked like he had been doing that naturally all the time,” Patricia said.
As for Jamie Collins Sr., his 89.8 overall grade was second only to Falcons linebacker Deion Jones. (Although, Jarrad Davis actually clocked in with a 95.2 grade, but on just 11 snaps). This is Collins’ second appearance on PFF’s Team of the Week, having scored a league-high 92.1 grade in Week 3 against the Arizona Cardinals. In what is likely not a big coincidence, that also happened to be Detroit’s best defensive performance—especially against the run—prior to Sunday’s game.
This week, Collins was doing just about everything right. He got pressure on the quarterback (0.5 sacks), led all Lions front-seven defenders with seven tackles, and he, again, proved he is Detroit’s best coverage linebacker with an 85.7 coverage grade and a near-interception.
Collins and Flowers are inarguably the two best players on the Lions defense. If they can continue to play at an extremely high level, there’s certainly some hope for this defense yet. This week, though, the Falcons present a much different challenge that will undoubtedly require some other players to step up, particularly in the secondary. Still, if Flowers can apply some pressure, and Collins can continue to do most things right at the second level, they’ll have a fighting chance to put together a few wins here.