It’s easy to be negative right now. The Detroit Lions are 0-6, and they’re coming off their worst game of the season. From top to bottom, the team just isn’t playing very well right now, and while most of us knew a poor season was coming, no amount of low expectations can really prepare you for the feeling of being the last winless team.
We’ve covered the Lions’ shortcoming plenty over the last 48 hours, so let’s try to focus on the positives a little bit. Head coach Dan Campbell pointed out some of the players that he believes have shown progress in throughout the first six weeks of the season.
“Look, Derrick Barnes is doing pretty good,” Campbell said, unprompted. “He’s improving. Alim McNeill is getting better. Tracy Walker is starting to get on this elevation. He’s playing better. I thought Jonah Jackson did some good things. Austin Bryant, he wasn’t in there a ton, but I thought he did some good things.”
Now it’s your turn to pick out a Lions player who has impressed you thus far in 2021. Today’s Question of the Day is:
Which Lions player has impressed you the most through Week 6?
My answer: I have to go with Tracy Walker. For the past three years of his Lions career, we’ve all talked about how he appears to be a breakout candidate to separate himself as one of the best safeties in the league, and each year, we seem to leave disappointed with his play.
But as Campbell mentioned on Monday, it really looks like things are starting to truly click with Walker. Last week against the Vikings, Walker jumped a route forcing an interception. This week, he basically did the exact same thing—albeit this time with a costly “taunting” flex over the receiver.
However, it’s not just his instincts in coverage. Walker has also done a fantastic job crashing down into the box and helping as a run defender. Per PFF, he has the highest run defense grade on the team and is third among all NFL safeties. He’s also third on the team in overall tackles, but only has two missed tackles on the season per PFF, giving him one of the lowest missed tackle rates on the team.
Just watching him out there, it’s obvious he’s playing with a ton of confidence, and the work he’s doing in the film room is clearly paying off. His football instincts appear to be through the roof right now, and when combined with an impressive athletic profile, suddenly the Lions have a pretty valuable member of their secondary capable of creating turnovers. This team has forced an interception in four straight games, and Walker is a big reason for that.