Detroit Lions football is back, baby, and they’re in midseason form. The Lions lost in classic heartbreaking fashion, but simultaneously exceeded expectations by keeping up with a team that’s supposed to contend in the NFC. From a sample size of one game, the Lions are right on the trajectory we need them to be for year two of a rebuild. Speaking of trajectory, here are your risers and fallers in this week’s stock report:.
Stock up: D’Andre Swift, RB
If I told you Swift would finish the day with 97 yards and a touchdown on just eight carries, you’d probably think that was a solid performance. That was just his stat line in the first half. Admittedly, half of that came on his first run of the day, but it was no fluke. Swift continually found holes and made the most of his carries to turn in a lot of rushes of five-to-ten yards. A minor tidbit, but I was a huge fan of Swift’s attempt to stiff-arm the last guy to beat on his opening rush. In Hard Knocks, Duce Staley showed a clip of Swift breaking a large run with one man to beat and told Swift he needs to try to stiff-arm the defender rather than simply taking the hit. Swift took notes, and although it wasn’t successful this time, you never know about the next big rush. A career day for Swift has his stock way up.
Stock down: Jared Goff, QB
The Lions offense came out firing on the first drive. Philadelphia would answer by jamming the line of scrimmage with beef and daring the Lions to throw, and their strategy worked. In spite of a solid showing from the offensive line, Goff simply couldn’t connect with his receivers. Goff spent much of the afternoon throwing into way-too-tight windows, and that was when he and his receiver were actually on the same page. There were multiple missed routes between Goff and guys like D.J. Chark and T.J. Hockenson. Goff was set up well for a rebound campaign in 2022, but looked painfully like the Goff we saw to start 2021.
Stock down: Amani Oruwariye, CB
A.J. Brown absolutely abused the Lions’ secondary on Sunday, and that wasn’t limited to just Amani Oruwariye. Oruwariye was his most frequent victim, though, and Brown put him on skates early and often. While Brown is an extremely formidable receiver for Philadelphia, that’s concerning for Oruwariye because the Lions will face many more teams with strong wide receiver pairings.
The routes in which Brown typically beat Oruwariye were RPOs by the Philadelphia Eagles offense, and it wasn’t just Brown who beat Oruwariye on those plays. After beating Oruwariye twice on RPOs to A.J. Brown, the Eagles ran a different RPO with a tight end leak that caught Oruwariye out of his zone and led to a big Eagles gain.
It’s unclear whether Oruwariye’s struggles were primarily due to Brown, RPOs, or some combination of the two, but Sunday wasn’t encouraging for a guy who spent last year as CB1.
Stock down: Logan Stenberg, G
Stenberg had a strong preseason to resuscitate his career as a Detroit Lion. He played so well, in fact, that he landed the right guard spot over the likes of Penei Sewell and Tommy Kraemer when Halapoulivaati Vaitai went down with an injury. Sunday, however, was a painful reminder of why he’s a backup when Stenberg racked up back-to-back false start penalties on the Lions’ opening drive. Stenberg would later give up an ugly pressure that led to immediate heat on Jared Goff’s pick-six.
MORE HARD KNOCKS FOR LIONS— Bally Sports (@BallySports) September 11, 2022
Jared Goff throws a pick six to put Detroit in a 21-7 hole vs. Eagles
(via @NFL) pic.twitter.com/3FzzQPhuHs
It’s a rough start from Stenberg, but given that the right guard situation unfolded during the week, Stenberg should get an opportunity to rectify this performance in Week 2.
Tracy Walker: Walker had a critical PBU at the goal line and later teamed up with Charles Harris to chase down Jalen Hurts on a safety blitz to kill a Philadelphia drive. Later on, he’d get to Hurts himself with a sack during the Eagles’ first half two minute drill. He’s continuing to show he can do it all.
Austin Bryant: Bryant had a solid showing in Week 1. After an exceptional preseason, there were a lot of questions about whether Bryant’s improved performance was a product of him playing against backups. Bryant, who came into camp on the roster bubble, answered that question Sunday, flying all over the field as a pass rusher and a pass defender.
DJ Chark: First impressions matter, and Chark didn’t make a good one. After a nearly silent preseason, Chark’s first two targets were a drop in the red zone and a route miscommunication that led to an airmail by Goff. However, Chark put together a strong second half including an impressive fourth quarter touchdown catch over Darius Slay to keep the Lions in the game.
Brock Wright: When Jason Cabinda went down in camp with an injury, there were questions about who would replace him as fullback. We got that answer Sunday, with Brock Wright paving the way for Jamaal Williams’ second rushing touchdown. For a guy who was on the roster bubble, diversifying his skillset is a key to sticking around in Detroit.
Alex Anzalone: Anzalone didn’t have any single play that stood out, but he was consistently flying over the field and was the most capable linebacker in both the pass and run game. After a preseason dominated by “Quadrigo,” Alex Anzalone reminded everyone who LB1 is.
Tracy Walker: Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about the other side of Walker’s day. Walker was ejected after getting called for a personal foul and an unsportsmanlike conduct in the same play. The personal foul was a pretty split-second roughing the passer call, but Walker let the heat get to him and threw a punch at an Eagles player with a referee in the middle, something you simply can’t do as a leader of this team.
JuJu Hughes: On the Eagles’ last drive of the game, Hughes had Eagles running back Boston Scott in his sights for a tackle on second-and-8. Instead of wrapping up the running back, Hughes lunged with his shoulder, allowing Scott to stumble forward for 4 more yards and setting up a third-and-1. If Hughes wraps up on that play, it could be a very different outcome we’re discussing right now.
Aidan Hutchinson: Hutchinson had a relatively quiet debut with the exception of two quarterback pressures on Jalen Hurts in the first quarter. Both times, Hutchinson had Hurts within arm’s reach, but Hurts slipped away. It was a great opportunity for Hutchinson to start his career with a bang, but like the rest of the Lions defense, Hurts was just too evasive for him.