Everything feels good and right after a victory. Unfortunately for the Detroit Lions, two victories have still yet to assuage doubts in certain sectors of football economic activity. There is no bull market just yet. But now is not the time for fear. That comes later.
Stock up: Romeo Okwara
Okwara was the engine of pressure for the Lions on Sunday, repeatedly reaching Matt Ryan and causing havoc. Okwara hit Ryan three times and scored two sacks, including the strip-sack recovered by Trey Flowers which set up for the late game field goal to give Detroit the lead.
Okwara has impressed in several games across the early season, and he’s showing that he can continue to produce when asked to pass rush. His is a dimension the Lions have not enjoyed in a few years now. In a game like this, where the enemy offense ran pass-heavy, it’s well needed and well received when it comes through.
Stock up: Da’Shawn Hand
If Okwara was the hero on the pass rush for the Lions, Hand proved to be its force in stopping the Falcons run game. Along with Danny Shelton, the interior tackles kept Todd Gurley from generating any sort of meaningful offense (more on the meaningful offense the Lions did allow, correctly, later). While Shelton did play more snaps that Hand, both were excellent, and Hand gets the stock up nod because we believe he should probably play more snaps moving forward.
Stock up: Matthew Stafford
Stafford’s performance through the first five games of the season was cause for concern. This was not the case against the Falcons. While certain elements of consternation remain, Stafford looked poised and confident in critical drives, and the sacks he took in this game were not products of some deficiency of pocket awareness.
This is perhaps the strongest stock change we can offer. Will Stafford remain on track for great heights? That remains to be seen, but it will become dependent upon staying healthy and continuing to read strong defenses, plus if he is given the room to run this offense as he sees fit; not, rather, from any declining performance on his own accord.
For the time being, we’re back to Stafford being the unquestionable golden boy of the Lions offense.
Stock up: Kerryon Johnson
Pass blocking grades for Johnson were phenomenal for this game. If nothing else, Johnson’s role in this backfield should become more defined over the weeks, not less, and his usage will hopefully increase.
I’m perhaps tipping my hand to the rest of this article, but there’s no reason at this point why Johnson shouldn’t see the field more, particularly given the struggles of another back.
Stock up: Jalen Reeves-Maybin
The game of football is impossible to reduce to a set of numbers, data points and grades. There are simply too many moving parts, layers of strategy, tactic, scheme and chicanery that makes analogs to other sports seem simplistic at best. All we can do is take elements we agree with, develop takes, opinions, observations; from there you just seek to convince whatever poor sod is listening to you that you’ve got the chops on the situation.
This is all to prologue to this: what follows is not a rational, reasonable discussion of Jalen Reeves-Maybin’s capability as a football player. It is not any sort of statistical evaluation of his play on the field.
Now that such things are out of the way—Exhibit A:
OH MY GOD, THE ALL 22 IS EVEN BETTER pic.twitter.com/fCxVGDyxu2— Jeremy Reisman (@DetroitOnLion) October 26, 2020
Please direct your attention to No. 44.
Legs spread. Shoulders straight. Arm forward, head up. Finger assertive.
What you are witnessing is leadership of the highest order. This is the proper, immaculate method of striking a pose to request the official give you the proper call: that Todd Gurley in his infinite wisdom had fallen into the endzone, thus granting Detroit the chance to respond with a minute and change on the clock.
I cannot think of a better reason to include Reeves-Maybin in this review.
Stock down: Darrell Bevell
There is only one commonality with the issues on offense in this game, and that all happens at the schematic level. At some point, it goes up to the top. Someone decided to put Adrian Peterson out there. Someone is making this ridiculous playcalling. Someone is wasting downs with abnormal, inefficient routes.
Did you notice in the late game, when Stafford took control of the offense, how all of these problems faded into the background, like white noise on a radio with a dying battery?
This doesn’t bode well. There’s no reason for the offense to feel like it’s being reined in by its playcalling, or endangered by decision-making that will result in three-and-out and less than a minute off the clock.
Stock down: Blocking for everyone but Johnson
I wish I could pin this down on a particular player, but in this case it’s a whole cavalcade of suspects. Far too many times, nobody was blocking anybody. Defenders came off the edge and through holes and around the woods and caught Stafford, Peterson and others completely unaware. The Falcons blew up Stafford twice with little resistance, and T.J/ Hockenson let Mykal Walker shut down the fourth down conversion on the goal line.
Stock down: Adrian Peterson
There’s simply no reason for Adrian Peterson to continue to filch runs. Factors are piling up that indicates it’s time to sell hard on this underperforming stock.
Johnson has proven himself invaluable in run blocking, while Swift is a versatile commodity. When Peterson takes the field, it’s a clear signal that the Lions intend to try to stuff the ball up the middle. At an average 2.6 yards per carry, it’s time to consider that such a role could potentially be filled by Johnson, or perhaps the returning Bo Scarbrough.
Stock down: Amani Oruwariye
A good number of issues exist across the secondary in this outing. This is not to put all of them onto Oruwariye, but given grades and tape, it’s hard to come away without thinking that this was perhaps a particular low-light for him.
The absence of Trufant did put pressure on the staff to figure out who had to be out there, and Oruwariye did play 70 snaps. But the number of times Falcons receivers simply sat completely open is alarming. This needs some focused fixing before facing off against Philip Rivers and T.Y. Hilton.