It’s the bye week, which means it’s time to both reflect on the five games the Detroit Lions have played and look forward to how the team may perform in the 12 games out of the bye. No one inside the building is happy about the team’s 1-4 start, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been some individual performances that have been promising for the future.
In this article, we’re going to take the statistical performances from the first five games of the season and average that out to a full 17-game season to get a good sense of which players are playing well, and who is currently struggling. Obviously, this is an overall small sample size and some statistics aren’t great measures of actual performance, so I’ll provide some commentary along the way.
Let’s get it started.
Note: Projections are based on a 17-game season. I am also accounting for games missed in the projection. In other words, if a player only played in three of five games, I am projecting them to miss the same rate of games going forward. Projections are rounded to the nearest whole number. Also, I am only doing the primary players—not the depth pieces.
Jared Goff thus far: 111-of-186 (59.7 completion percentage) for 1,355 yards, 11 TDs, 4 INTs, 92.9 passer rating
Jared Goff’s season pace: 377-of-632 for 4,607 yards, 37 TDs, 13 INTs, 92.9 passer rating
If Goff continues this pace, he’ll saddle up right near his career-best in passing yards (4,688). Of course, this includes a 17-game schedule whereas he hit his career mark in just 16 games. A 92.9 passer rating would be his highest since 2018, but it’s actually just barely better than where he was at last year (91.5). The big concern is the interception numbers, which are suddenly on pace for some of his down years in Los Angeles. His completion percentage is also the lowest it has been since his rookie season.
That said, if Goff continues his touchdown pace, he would set a career-high by five.
D’Andre Swift thus far: 27 carries, 231 yards (8.6 YPC), 1 TD; 8 catches, 77 yards, 1 TD
D’Andre Swift’s season pace: 92 carries, 785 yards, 3 TDs; 27 catches, 261 yards, 3 TDs
Obviously, Swift’s numbers are largely affected by his injuries. He’s only played in three games, and while the hope is that he’ll be ready to go for the final 12 games, I think we all know that expecting Swift to stay healthy for the rest of the year requires a lot of unearned faith.
But here’s the thing: even if Swift continues on this pace, he’d set career highs in rushing. His previous high was 617 rushing yards for the season. The problem is that Swift is averaging 8.6 yards per carry and that number is completely unsustainable. The highest yards per carry by an NFL running back with over 75 carries since 1960 is Darren Sproles, with 6.9 yards per carry on 87 rushes.
Let’s just hope Swift gets the ball at a higher rate out of the bye to offset what is sure to be some regression on his per-rush average.
Jamaal Williams thus far: 77 carries, 332 yards (4.3 YPC), 6 TDs; 5 catches, 30 yards
Jamaal Williams’ season pace: 262 rushes, 1,129 yards, 20 TDs; 17 catches, 102 yards
If Williams continues his current pace, he’d break just about every personal best, and become Detroit’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Reggie Bush in 2013. His ridiculous pace for 20 rushing touchdowns would rank him t-11th in NFL history, and he’d crush the previous franchise high for Detroit, set by Barry Sanders in 1991 with 16.
Jamaal Williams’ previous career highs were 601 rushing yards and four touchdowns. That said, he’s on pace for his worst career season as a receiver.
Josh Reynolds thus far: 23 catches, 335 yards, 2 TDs
Josh Reynolds’ season pace: 78 catches, 1,139 yards, 7 TDs
Reynolds is quietly on pace for one of the better Lions receivers seasons in recent memory. The last time a Lions receiver produced similar stats was Kenny Golladay in 2019 (65 catches, 1,190 yards, 11 TDs).
This would also wildly out-pace Reynold’s best career season, which was in 2020 when he caught 52 passes for 618 yards and 2 TDs.
Amon-Ra St. Brown thus far: 27 catches, 271 yards, 3 TDs; 2 rushes, 68 yards
Amon-Ra St. Brown’s season pace: 92 catches, 921 yards, 10 TDs; 7 rushes, 231 yards
Because injuries have limited his production, St. Brown is on pace for a near-identical output as last year (90 catches, 912 yards), but with more touchdowns (10 vs. 5).
Combined with Reynolds, the Lions are just barely off-pace to have two 1,000-yard receivers for the first time since 2017 (Marvin Jones and Golden Tate).
DJ Chark thus far: 7 catches, 98 yards, 1 TD
DJ Chark’s season pace: 24 catches, 333 yards, 3 TDs
Obviously, this would be a hugely disappointing output for Chark, who was given a one-year, $10 million contract this offseason. There’s reason to believe he’ll turn it around out of the bye if his ankle can recover. It will have almost been a full month since his injury when the Lions play the Cowboys out of the bye week.
That being said, even if I were to take his average based on games he actually played in and added the final 12 games of the season at that production level, his output would look like this for the entire year: 35 catches, 490 yards, and 5 TDs. That is extremely below expectations. Goff and Chark need to rediscover some of that training camp chemistry we saw.
T.J. Hockenson thus far: 19 catches, 267 yards, 3 TDs
T.J. Hockenson’s season pace: 65 catches, 908 yards, 10 TDs
It sure doesn’t feel like it, but Hockenson is actually on pace for his best career season thus far, and it’s not even particularly close. His previous best season was in 2020, with 67 catches for 723 yards and six touchdowns.
Of course, the dirty little secret is that 67 percent of Hockenson’s production this year came in one game, and 30 percent of his season yardage came on a single play. In the other four games, he’s averaging just 22 yards a game. If he were to continue that pace for the rest of the season, he’d finish with just 531 receiving yards. I think it’s fair to say that Hockenson’s production will probably fall somewhere in between that projection and the one above.