Another week, another pain. Here are the current game ball standings:
Week 1 Game Ball winner: Penei Sewell
Week 2 winner: T.J. Hockenson
Week 3 winner: D’Andre Swift
Week 4 winner: Kalif Raymond
Week 5 winner: Tracy Walker
Let’s get started.
Stats: 9 tackles, 1 pass defended
PFF Grade: 90.5
The nine tackles are a standard stat line for a starting linebacker in the NFL, but I really want to focus on the one pass defended here. Barnes is really starting to hold his own, and it has been a long time since we saw a Detroit Lions linebacker that could cover.
Sure, C.J. Uzomah isn’t George Kittle, but considering Derrick Barnes was barely seeing snaps to start the season, being able to make coverage plays in crunch time are a huge green flag. Barnes finished the day grading out as the Lions’ best defender in coverage with a 90.7 PFF coverage grade.
Derrick Barnes appreciation post!— Zach Harig (@FOX17Zach) October 18, 2021
The Lions rookie linebacker recorded a team-high nine tackles, six solo & this pass deflection. A bright spot in an otherwise dreadful game. pic.twitter.com/wWQhFI1zo6
Stats: 8 catches, 74 yards
PFF Grade: 73.7
This stat line doesn’t particularly stand out given the bar we hold T.J. Hockenson at, but we have to take into consideration the context here. Hockenson has been hampered for several weeks now with a knee injury that has slowed him down considerably. He has been limited in practice and it shows in games.
This Sunday, however, there was no slowing down to be seen. Hockenson looked back in form, matching his yardage total from the past three weeks combined. More impressive is that the eight receptions came on 11 targets. Jared Goff’s favorite target is back, baby.
Now if only we could fix that whole fall down immediately after catching the ball thing.
Stats: 3 tackles, 1 sack
PFF Grade: 69.6
Okwara continues to look more comfortable as the season goes on and he takes on an expanded role, particularly in his brother’s absence. Sunday wasn’t particularly stellar, but of note was that Okwara got his first career sack.
The first career sack for @Julian_okwara ‼️#CINvsDET | FOX pic.twitter.com/S9tIQwuzHi— Detroit Lions (@Lions) October 17, 2021
Admittedly, Okwara was left completely unblocked. However, for a guy who has been consistently improving as his role grows, it’s nice to see him get a win like that.
Stats: 2 tackles, 1 sack
PFF Grade: 74.7
Austin Bryant was just a replica of Okwara on Sunday, another young buck getting his first career sack in an expanded role, and with an almost identical stat line to Okwara’s.
Trey Flowers had 47 total snap while this young dog Austin Bryant got 26 snaps and made the best out if it. Should Dan dial it back on snaps on some of the vets for guys like Bryant to play more? Look what he does to Riley Reiff #OnePride pic.twitter.com/j1qgFO9HH2— Malcolm Hart (@MrHart__) October 19, 2021
There’s certainly a lot more to an edge defender’s play than just sacks, but first career sacks for Bryant and Okwara this past Sunday are a huge step forward in their expanding roles. And, for what it’s worth, Bryant’s wasn’t a gimme; he put ex-Lions left tackle Riley Reiff on skates and chased down Burrow for the sack.
Bryant saw about a third of the defensive snaps Sunday, but with more high-motor plays like this, that could increase moving forward. Not bad for a guy who we weren’t sure was going to even make the roster after a quiet start to his career.
Stats: 6 punts, 55.5 avg, 47.8 net avg
PFF grade: 66.8
Oh come on, don’t roll your eyes at me — I made it six weeks before putting a punter on this list. Jack Fox has hit the ground running in 2021, and Sunday was one of his best performances yet.
The ball left Jack Fox’s foot at his own 25-yard line and landed 5 deep in the end zone… I don’t think I’ve ever seen something quite like that.— (@HamzaPOD) October 17, 2021
The fact that Jack Fox sent the aforementioned ball into the end zone was equally impressive and unfortunate as it really did a number on his net average that would have otherwise been much higher. Nonetheless, that was one of the most impressive punts I have ever seen. Fox continues to be the gold standard of punting across the league, a good thing for what just might be the league’s worst offense.
It's that time - week 6 punter EPA rankings! #nflverse#RaiderNation AJ Cole III hangs onto the top spot#OnePride Jack Fox close on his heels pic.twitter.com/A0pl4Nn5SR— Puntalytics (@ThePuntRunts) October 19, 2021
Who gets the game ball against the Bengals?
This poll is closed