We have two questions in our SB Reacts poll this week:
- Our weekly: Are you confident the Lions are headed in the right direction?
- What surprise Lions player are you most confident in going forward?
In our weekly confidence poll, we have seen the results shift from 95 to 99 to 88 to 86 percent, then plummet to 47 percent following the Week 5 shutout loss to the New England Patriots—the first time in the coach Dan Campbell era it fell below 50 percent. Now, after a bye week, it’ll be interesting to see if cooler heads prevail as things settle down, or if people double down after stewing in disappointment.
Now let’s switch to our second question.
Through five games, the Lions have had a few players surpass expectations and surprise in a positive way. But which of these players' success is sustainable? Let’s take a look at six of the players who meet that criteria and then you can vote to decide the winner.
Stat line: 111-of-186 for 1,355 passing yards, 11 TDs, 4 INTs, and a 92.9 passer rating
Despite ending the 2021 season on a high note, expectations were that we may have already seen the best he has to give. But Goff has put the offense on his shoulders more than once through five games and is a big reason why the Lions scoring offense is producing points.
He is by no means flawless, and a couple of his misreads have cost the team, but he is keeping them in games and giving them a chance to be competitive. Currently, as Jeremy Reisman previously wrote, Goff is on pace for 4,600 passing yards and 37 touchdowns which would be pretty close to career highs.
Stat line: 77 carries, 332 rushing yards, 4.3 yards per carry, 6 TDs, 5 receptions for 30 yards
With D’Andre Swift handling the majority of the workload through the first two games, Williams’ early production was subdued. But when Swift went down with an injury, Williams stepped up and produced. Through four games, he led the league in rushing touchdowns, but after getting blanked in Week 5, and being on a bye in Week 6, he is now tied for second and just one score off the lead.
With Swift expected back soon, can Williams retain his production? It’ll be more challenging splitting touches, but Williams will always be one Swift injury away from stepping back into a starting role.
Stat line: 23 receptions for 335 yards and 2 TDs
Amon-Ra St. Brown and DJ Chark have been nursing ankle injuries the last three weeks and Jameson Williams is still on the reserve/NFI list, leaving Josh Reynolds to pick up the slack. Reynolds’ numbers aren’t eye-popping but he has seven receptions over 20 yards (tied for sixth most in NFL) and 16 of his 23 receptions have gone for first downs. A lot of his success is because he is producing at key moments.
Stat line on 5 starts: 24 tackles, allows on average 4 receptions, less than 50 yards per game
Okudah went from being in competition to start during training camp to being the most stable player in the Lions' secondary. This season, Okudah has traveled with the opponent's top receiver. Let’s take a look at how those receivers performed against Okudah in coverage:
Week 1: DeVonta Smith — 0 receptions, 0 yards
Week 2: Terry McLaurin — 2 receptions, 22 yards
Week 3: Justin Jefferson — 2 receptions, 9 yards
Week 4: D.K. Metcalf — 3 receptions, 101 yards
Week 5: Jakobi Meyers — 1 reception, 17 yards
Outside of a Metcalf 54-yard play where he broke a tackling attempt, Okudah has been very solid through five games.
Stat line on 5 starts: 39 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 QB hits, 1 forced fumble, 3 pressures
Okay, I know the rookie has a massive fan base that will all claim they knew he was capable of playing like this, but from a big-picture perspective, for a sixth-round rookie to do what he is doing is impressive. Not only did he rightfully win a starting role, but he reads his gaps and attacks downhill with aggression and intelligence, perfect for this scheme. There are some hiccups in his game—that comes with the territory of being a rookie starter—but he is getting better and the arrow is pointing up.
Stat line through 2 games played: 3 tackles, 1 tackles for loss, 2 QB hits, 10 pressures
Though he only played in two games, Cominsky was leading the Lions in pressures during that time and his play was freeing up others—namely Aidan Hutchinson—so that they could find more success. Cominsky is expected to return to action this week and the Lions defense could surely benefit from his ability to impact the trenches.
Okay, time to vote. Answer the questions in the two polls below and keep an eye out later in the week for a breakdown of the results.