Here is a closer look at the Detroit Lions’ snap counts from their decisive Week 16 loss to the Carolina Panthers and some observations on what it means.
Jared Goff: 66 (100% of offensive snaps)
D’Andre Swift: 37 (56%)
Jamaal Williams: 16 (24%)
Justin Jackson: 14 (21%) — 19 special teams snaps (66%)
Swift’s 56 percent of offensive snaps was his highest playing time percentage since the season opener. He has slowly seen his role increase week-by-week as he likely feels more and more comfortable with his ankle.
That said, his playing time likely saw an extra bump after Jamaal Williams suffered an injury in the second half. Coach Dan Campbell did not have an update on Williams after the game, but hopefully we’ll get an update on his condition during his Monday press conference.
Shane Zylstra: 29 (44%) — 11 (38%)
Brock Wright: 27 (41%) — 10 (34%)
James Mitchell: 19 (29%) — 10 (34%)
Garrett Griffin: 10 (15%) — 7 (24%)
Shane Zylstra saw his most playing time of the year, and certainly made the most of it—scoring all three of Detroit’s touchdowns. Detroit was in pass mode for most of the game, so it comes as little surprise that the converted receiver was their most trusted tight end of the game.
That said, both James Mitchell (two catches, 31 yards) and Brock Wright (one catch, 11 yards) got involved in the action. Goff clearly trusts his entire tight end group to make plays when they have to.
Garrett Griffin stepped in for injured fullback Jason Cabinda. That said, only five of his snap were taken as a true fullback, as the Lions occasionally lined him up as a traditional tight end and even out wide.
Amon-Ra St. Brown: 55 (83%)
DJ Chark: 49 (74%)
Josh Reynolds: 40 (61%)
Kalif Raymond: 21 (32%) — 3 (10%)
Jameson Williams: 11 (17%)
The wide receiver distribution was almost identical as it was last week. Despite the Lions playing from behind all game, they chose to actually slightly decrease the role of first-round rookie Jameson Williams, who only saw a single target all game. Williams has yet to see more than 13 offensive snaps in game thus far. At this point, it’s probably safe to say Williams will not grow into a full-time role this season.
Taylor Decker: 66 (100%)
Penei Sewell: 66 (100%) — 3 (10%)
Dan Skipper: 2 (3%) — 3 (10%)
Matt Nelson: 0 (0%) — 3 (10%)
With so few opportunities to run the ball and only a couple trips into the red zone, the Lions barely utilized their six offensive line look against the Panthers. Instead, they took advantage of having an extra tight end (Griffin) at their disposal.
Frank Ragnow: 66 (100%)
Jonah Jackson: 66 (100%) — 3 (10%)
Evan Brown: 66 (100%) — 3 (10%)
Logan Stenberg: 0 (0%) — 3 (10%)
For the second straight game, the Lions had their entire starting offensive line together. Unfortunately, it was one of their weakest performances of the year, especially from the interior players.
Alim McNeill: 49 (72%)
Isaiah Buggs: 46 (68%) — 1 (3%)
Benito Jones: 19 (28%) — 7 (24%)
Detroit bumped up the playing time for all of their interior defenders, knowing that the Panthers were going to run the ball a ton. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to slow Carolina’s rushing attack, which set a franchise record with 320 yards on the ground.
John Cominsky: 55 (81%) — 7 (24%)
Aidan Hutchinson: 52 (76%) — 6 (21%)
Romeo Okwara: 41 (60%) — 7 (24%)
James Houston: 14 (21%) — 15 (52%)
Josh Paschal: 13 (19%)
The Lions’ best run-defending edge defenders stayed in the game the longest, for obvious reasons, but none were at their best on Saturday.
That said, it’s good to see Romeo Okwara taking on a bigger load, showing that he’s pretty much beyond his Achilles injury. It’s clear, though, with just three games under his belt that he’s still shaking off some rust.
James Houston saw his sack streak come to an end, partially due to a decreased snap count. The Lions defense very rarely found themselves in obvious passing downs, yet Houston still made an impact by creating a pressure and drawing a holding penalty. Despite his low snap count, he finished with an elite 87.0 PFF grade, the highest on the team’s defense.
Alex Anzalone: 68 (100%)
Malcolm Rodriguez: 42 (62%) — 4 (14%)
Derrick Barnes: 17 (25%) — 8 (28%)
Chris Board: 7 (10%) — 26 (90%)
Anthony Pittman: 2 (3%) — 26 (90%)
Josh Woods: 0 (0%) — 26 (90%)
With Derrick Barnes’ return to play, it basically took roles away from Jarrad Davis (who was not elevated this week) and Chris Board. Still, it was Malcolm Rodriguez who saw most of the LB2 looks on the day, but it was a forgettable day for the rookie—who consistently found himself out of position in the running game.
Jerry Jacobs: 68 (100%) — 10 (34%)
Will Harris: 51 (75%)
Jeff Okudah: 44 (65%)
Mike Hughes: 24 (35%) — 16 (55%)
Amani Oruwariye: 0 (0%) — 3 (10%)
It was a dreadful day for No. 1 cornerback Jeff Okudah, who not only missed two tackles per PFF, but also gave up receptions on both of his targets, including a critical third-down bomb that went for 47 yards. Eventually, the Lions pulled him from the game and replaced him with Mike Hughes. Here’s what Campbell had to say about the move, per MLive:
“Look, Jeff’s fine. Things happen. Jeff will rally back, and he’ll be ready to go.”
Elsewhere, the Lions committed to staying in their nickel package for three-quarters of the game—perhaps a regrettable decision given how much the secondary struggled against the run. That said, it was Hughes who finished with the team’s best PFF run grade (70.1).
Kerby Joseph: 68 (100%) — 12 (41%)
Ifeatu Melifonwu: 66 (97%)
C.J. Moore: 2 (3%) — 26 (90%)
Brady Breeze: 0 (0%) — 19 (66%)
Despite Campbell saying that both Melifonwu and Moore would both play a role at safety this week, it was almost exclusively Melifonwu—who got his first career start at safety. It was a rough outing for the second-year player, who was consistently out of position and was credited with two missed tackles of his own. That said, he did finish with a team-high eight tackles, including one for a loss.
It’s unclear if starting safety DeShon Elliott will miss any more time with his shoulder injury, but it’s obvious the Lions missed him on Saturday.
Jack Fox: 10 (34%)
Scott Daly: 7 (24%)
Michael Badgley: 5 (17%)