Through seven weeks of Detroit Lions football, the team has run the gamut. They’ve played a Super Bowl contender like the Los Angeles Rams to the bitter end. They’ve lost on last-second field goals to the Baltimore Ravens and Minnesota Vikings by the same score. They’ve also been punched in the mouth in games where they were expected by many to pick up their first win both against the Chicago Bears and Cincinnati Bengals.
Then, in Week 8, the proverbial bottom fell out.
In a 44-6 drubbing at the hands of the then 2-5 Philadelphia Eagles, the Lions looked like a football team who didn’t have it in them to be physical... at all. The Eagles, a football team without their top running back in Miles Sanders, totaled 46 rushing attempts for 236 rushing yards and four touchdowns. For those without calculators, that’s 5.1 yards per attempt on 46 rushing attempts.
On offense, the Lions scored just once, a touchdown on the ground from rookie Jermar Jefferson while the team was trailing 41-0 with just over seven minutes remaining in the game. Jared Goff was pressured all afternoon, getting sacked five times in total and failing to complete a pass to a receiver not named Amon-Ra St. Brown. No, really, Goff completed three passes to St. Brown and failed to complete a single pass to another one of his wide receivers.
There isn’t a lot to write home about when it comes to the good that came from this game, there’s some, but the overwhelming majority who watched this game came away with a similar sentiment at its conclusion: “Alright, you know what, this is dumb. Dump it, trash it, this one’s garbage.”
Stock Up: T.J. Hockenson, TE
Ten catches for 89 yards is an impressive stat line for Hockenson as a receiver. He wasn’t at his best when it came to blocking, but right now, Hockenson is second among tight ends in receptions (48) and fifth in receiving yards (448) at the bye week. Hockenson can absolutely be the centerpiece for a productive and efficient offense, but he’s stuck doing a lot of the in-line blocking because of the limitations on the offensive line...
Stock Down: Matt Nelson, RT
If the Lions want to avoid going 0-17, they need Taylor Decker to return from injured reserve. There’s no magic elixir to cure all the ails of this offense: Goff is who he is and the receivers are who they are. They’re both extremely limited and there’s an inextricable relationship between this quarterback and his receivers, but there’s a third crucial component to consider—the offensive line.
On the right side, Matt Nelson has been absolutely brutal this season. He leads all tackles in pressures allowed per PFF (34!) and he surrendered a team-high six pressures in Week 8. Again, Decker isn’t going to fix the dearth of talent on this offense, but he can help fix a huge issue with this offense: giving Goff a chance to breathe and operate.
Stock Up: Penei Sewell, LT
How about a positive tweet?— Jeremy Reisman (@DetroitOnLion) November 1, 2021
Over the past 3 weeks, Penei Sewell has posted a PFF grade of 80.4, good for 8th among all NFL tackles.
But let’s touch on the good along the offensive line! Penei Sewell, the Lions' first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, is playing pretty darn well and he had another solid outing against the Eagles. Sewell gave up just one pressure on the afternoon, and did a great job keeping Goff’s blindside clean. This game was a step back for him as a run blocker—as it was for the majority of the run game as a whole—but he’s certainly progressing in a way that is encouraging.
Stock Down: D’Andre Swift, RB
Speaking of the abysmal running game, look no further than the lackluster performance of D’Andre Swift on the ground in this one—all while keeping an eye on how much missing Jamaal Williams obviously means to this rushing attack between the tackles.
Swift had just 27 yards on a team-high 12 carries, but his effectiveness out of the backfield as a pass-catcher was neutralized against one of the worst linebacker corps in the NFL. Five catches for 24 yards was his worst output of the season so far, and again, for an offense starved for playmakers, Swift failed to make any splash plays to keep this offense from drowning in its own inabilities.