“I’m happy we’re winning and I love where we’re at right now and the other (post-season) will happen when it happens,” coach Dan Campbell said following the Lions' 20-6 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “Right now it’s about trying to find a way to finish first in this division and right now we’re in a pretty good spot. We’ve got a lot of football left but I’m proud of our guys.”
After their fourth consecutive victory of 14 or more points, this week’s stock report is unsurprisingly full of positives. Let’s dig in.
Stock up: Alex Anzalone
Anzalone led the team with nine tackles (seven solo), while also registering two passes defended, and a tackle for loss. According to the Lions PR department, this is Anzalone’s 23rd straight game of producing five or more tackles.
“Alex is one of our captains and has been a guy going on three years around here. Guys look up to him and he’s one of the guys we rely on,” Campbell said of Anzalone. “He’s been our bell cow on defense. [...] He just continues to play at a very high level. He is an extremely smart football player and he is playing as physical as I’ve ever seen him. He’s playing at a very high level. You’d be hard-pressed to find (linebackers) that are playing better than him in this league.”
Whether is in run support, pass coverage, or team morale (he’s always one of the first players to congratulate his teammates), Anzalone has been one of the best players on the Lions’ defense all season and is arguably playing the best football of his life.
Stock up: Defense as a whole
“Listen, I can’t say enough about our defensive performance today,” Campbell said. “And really, for five games this year to be honest with you. (Defensive coordinator) Aaron Glenn is doing a hell of a job with that staff and our players have bought in—they’ve been bought in. But we’re playing as one unit right now, and we’re doing what we need to do. [...] for the defense to only give up six points is saying a lot.”
This is the type of defense many of us have been waiting our entire lives to see.
Stock down: Aidan Hutchinson
That being said, it can’t be all sunshine and rainbows. After dominating through the first five games of the season, Hutchinson took a minor step back in this game. It’s likely that the lack of production came from the Lions' defensive approach, which saw Hutchinson’s role shift a bit as the Lions deployed more 4-3 looks.
When the Lions run their base defense, they deploy Hutchinson against the opponent's right tackle. But in these 4-3 looks, they shift him to the right side (opposite the left tackle), and lean on John Cominsky on the left side, so that he can take on blocks and free up Jack Campbell at the SAM linebacker spot.
With Hutchinson on the right, he squared off against Tristan Wirfs, who is one of the best tackles in the NFL. It also looked like Hutchinson saw more double teams and he never got in a rhythm.
It wasn’t a bad game, it just wasn’t the dominating performance we have become accustomed to.
Stock up: Lions third down defense
The Bucs offense only converted two of their 12 third-down attempts in this game—that’s a mere 16.7 percent conversion rate.
Stock up: Lions rushing defense
The Detroit Lions have yet to allow a team to rush for 100 yards on them this season, and in Week 6, the Bucs only managed 46 yards on the ground. This marks the third time this season the Lions have held their opponent under 50 rushing yards—the Falcons had just 44 rushing yards and the Packers only had 27.
Stock down: Lions rushing attack
The Lions only managed 40 rushing yards against the Bucs.
David Montgomery going down with a rib injury, along with Jahmyr Gibbs and left guard Jonah Jackson being ruled out, likely played into the poor rushing results. This was the first time this season that they were held under 100 rushing yards as a team.
Tough sledding all day.
Stock up: Craig Reynolds
While Reynolds only managed 15 rushing yards on 10 attempts, he was a grinder for this team on Sunday and stepped up in other ways—including laying a devastating block to free up Amon-Ra St. Brown for a touchdown.
“I just saw Saint coming back across the grain, and I’m not going to lie, for a split second I was like, ‘What’s the rules as far as a block like this?’” Reynolds said to the Free Press after the game. “I’m literally running towards him, I’m like, ‘I think if I’m going towards my goal line I’m OK,’ and I just said F it. If I get fined, I get fined. He saw me last second so I just dropped the shoulder and hit him.”
Quite honestly, it was one of the best blocks by an offensive skill player that I’ve ever seen.
“I see Craig come out of nowhere and I kinda point at No. 24 and Craig zoom, boom, lights him up,” St. Brown recalled. “He’s the reason I scored.”
In a game where points were tight, effort plays like that from Reynolds are the difference between winning and losing.
Stock up: Jameson Williams
Jameson Williams’ 45-yard touchdown reception is a great indicator of what he brings to the table. He’s a constant threat to take the top off a defense, and at any moment, he’s capable of making a game-changing play.
“Yeah, I think that will certainly help,” Campbell said of Williams’ touchdown reception. “I thought he did a great job turning on the gas and getting to the pylon. I love that Goff let it go—he trusted it and ripped it—and (Williams) did a good job tracking that ball and making a huge play.”
He’s starting to warm up, folks.
Stock up: Jared Goff
Jared Goff finished the game completing 30-of-44 passes (68.2%) for 353 yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a 107.5 passer rating. This was the second time this season Goff threw for over 300 yards and the 17th time he has thrown for over 350 yards in his career—fourth most in NFL history for players through their first eight seasons in the NFL.
“I thought Jared Goff had an outstanding day and really helped us win this game,” Campbell said. “That’s a damn good defense we faced, we knew that coming in here, and they made it hard on us, but we came away with 20 (points).”
Stock up: Ability to adjust and overcome obstacles
With the Lions rushing attack stalled and Montgomery out of the game, the offense needed to adjust their game plan on the fly. In the end, the Lions ended up passing the ball 44 times (with completions to 10 different players), compared to rushing just 22.
“We want to be pretty balanced,” Campbell said about the offense. “And we certainly want to be able to run the football. But as (the game) went (Goff) was really in a groove and we felt like that was the best way to move the football. To put it in his hands.”
Goff indeed put the ball in his right hand and the offense on his right shoulder, registering 203 of his 353 passing yards in the second half.
“It wasn’t easy running the football,” Campbell continued. “And we needed (Goff) to step up and he did step up. He’s playing really good football for us. He has been for a while now.”
Goff has been aggressive—he has seven passing touchdowns of over 20+ yards this season—and accurate, and now has not had his passer rating dip below 85 in the last 13 games. He continues to answer the bell, time and time again, and is playing some of the best football in his career.