Recaps for games like this one usually start with something along the lines of “I’m not one for moral victories, but...” Well, that being said, I’m not one for moral victories, but what a team effort by the Detroit Lions. That leaves you about as good as you can feel after a loss, and for that, we have lots of risers in this week’s stock report.
Stock up: James Houston, EDGE
Welcome to the league, rookie! Houston’s first NFL action came with a bang, posting two crucial sacks in just five(!!) defensive snaps. That’s against one of the most elusive quarterbacks in the league, for that matter. Houston also had a fumble recovery on Kalif Raymond’s punt return early to avert what could have been a major disaster.
It was a very complete game for Houston given how few snaps he played. It’s safe to say he won’t be staying on the practice squad for long, as this coaching staff will want to see more of what they have in him.
Stock up: Evan Brown, RG, and Jonah Jackson, LG
I’ve never seen someone’s stock go up this much without playing, let alone two people. The Lions were down their top four guards Thursday and it showed. As much as Ben Johnson tried to mask it, there always seemed to be trouble happening wherever Dan Skipper and Kayode Awosika were. It really put into perspective how smooth things were with Jonah Jackson and, to an extent, Evan Brown. It’s a totally different ballgame with those two in the game, even though Brown has had his struggles as a guard.
Stock down: Penei Sewell, RT
Sewell continues his high level of play, but he is beginning to fill a hamper with referee laundry. Entering Thursday’s matchup, Sewell was tied for second in the league with eight penalties on the season. He moved up the leaderboard to tie for first after a false start penalty during the game-tying drive. The volume of penalties and the timing of that one are simply inexcusable for a player of his caliber and a leader of this team. It needs to get cleaned up before something like that really screws the Lions, because that was almost the case Thursday.
Stock up: Michael Badgley, K
Speaking of the game-tying drive, what a kick from Michael Badgley. For a guy who had a reputation of being good inside of 45 yards in non-game-winning situations, this was a huge kick. Here are some of the tweets from Chargers fans (where Badgley has spent most of his career) about what he’s capable of when he landed in Detroit, for reference:
Apart from missing every single game tying or winning field goal he wasn't the worst. Definitely not deserving of a starting spot but there are probably worse options for an emergency kicker.— Herbert for MVP (@LA_BoltUp) October 8, 2022
Very accurate from 0-45 yards. Very inaccurate from 45+. Cannot trust him in the clutch to get the job done.— Steven Haglund (@StevenIHaglund) October 8, 2022
Time for the Money Badger to cash in on that trademark. Oh, and don’t ask me about the 29-yard miss, I blame that entirely on Jim Nantz.
Stock up: Kalif Raymond, WR/PR
It was a bad start to Thursday for Kalif Raymond, fumbling his first punt return in a scary moment that could have turned things south. After that, however, Raymond was a difference maker on the ground and in the passing game. He finished as the Lions’ second-leading receiver and had a huge 41-yard punt return. Those who saw the play live will tell you, that totally looked like a punt that should have been fair caught. Instead, Raymond made magic happen and finished with 54 punt return yards against a team that had only allowed 149 punt return yards all season entering Thursday’s game.
Stock neutral: Dan Campbell, HC:
I hesitate to put Campbell in the stock down category because he was very smart to not use his timeouts at the end of the game and leave the Buffalo Bills with more time than they had. Likewise, he and his staff coached every ounce out of this team Thursday. However, the clock management at the end of the first half was egregious; it almost seemed as if the Lions were trying to hand the Bills the ball with plenty of time after the two minute warning. That needs to get cleaned up, and it’s encouraging that the Lions were better about it at the end of the game. That aside, it was a hell of a coaching job by Campbell and his staff Thursday.
Stock up: Mike Hughes, CB
On Thursday, Hughes did not play like a guy who has been on the fringe of this roster all season. He was the Lions’ second-best corner, sharing time with Will Harris and Amani Oruwariye as CB2 and outplaying the both of them. Hughes played physical and was terrific in run support, something we know this coaching staff loves. The Lions know they need corner help and Harris and Oruwariye aren’t the answer beyond this season, so it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Hughes gets extensive looks at CB2 after Thursday’s performance.
Stock up: Jerry Jacobs, CB
Jerry Jacobs continues to prove he belongs in this league after entering as an undrafted free agent last season. He isn’t a CB1, but he stepped into the role admirably against one of the league’s most potent offenses. Prior to Stefon Diggs’ 36-yard reception on the go-ahead drive—which was after Jacobs left the game and was put in concussion protocol—Diggs had just 41 receiving yards on the day. That’s a heck of a performance by a sophomore UDFA and someone who is just three weeks removed from his return to play from a torn ACL.
D.J. Chark, WR: He only had two catches for 16 yards, but the Lions attempted to get him the ball a lot, including with the game on the line. That’s a good sign for him being back to full speed and hopefully it translates to more catches in future weeks. Also, heck of a touchdown grab.
Brock Wright, TE: Wright struggled through the air, but he continues to emerge as an elite run blocking tight end and a pivotal part of this offense’s success on the ground. With the mess at guard, the Lions were able to run outside handoffs and stretch plays all day thanks to Wright’s ability to seal the edge.
Jamaal Williams, RB: Williams had another day of tough running Thursday. More importantly, he was the beneficiary of a lot of attention from the broadcast. The whole country knows now that Williams is RB1 and the league leader in rushing touchdowns.
Jared Goff, QB: Goff still had his Goff moments (like his attempted 360 no scope interception), but that play aside it was a clean and relatively sharp day—the key word being relatively. He was a lot more steady in a filthy pocket than he has been all season. If that kind of pressure happens to Goff in the first two months of the season, the Lions likely lose by 20.
Austin Bryant, EDGE: An egregiously stupid roughing the passer penalty on Bryant gave the Bills a free 15 yards and fresh set of downs. You can’t give freebies to a team like the Bills, and you especially can’t do so if you’re a veteran in a crowded room of similarly-talented pass rushers.
Alex Anzalone, LB: The Alex Anzalone experience is a rollercoaster, and Thursday’s rollercoaster ended on a low. He continues to have head scratching moments where he looks lost both in coverage and in his attempts to tackle scrambling quarterbacks. It’s inexplicable, especially for a team’s LB1.