The Detroit Lions were perfect on the road this year until they weren’t. On Sunday, they got blasted by the Baltimore Ravens in a 38-6 rout. Let’s take a closer look at Detroit’s personnel decisions by examining the snap counts for Lions vs. Ravens.
Jared Goff: 75 (100%)
Teddy Bridgewater: N/A
Despite the game being well out of hand in the second half, the Lions decided to keep Jared Goff in the game to the bitter end.
Jahmyr Gibbs: 65 (87%)
Craig Reynolds: 7 (9%) — 1 special teams snaps (5%)
(FB) Malcolm Rodriguez: 2 (3%) — 12 (57%)
Devine Ozigbo: 0 (0%) — 13 (62%)
Mohamed Ibrahim: 0 (0%) — 6 (29%)
David Montgomery: OUT
Coach Dan Campbell said Jahmyr Gibbs was going to have to carry the load and he wasn’t kidding. The rookie’s 65 offensive snaps were 23 more than he’s ever gotten in an NFL game. Unsurprisingly, he turned that into his best offensive output thus far, totaling 126 yards and his first NFL touchdown.
Elsewhere, the Lions put linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez in at fullback for the first time in his career.
“We’re always talking about how do we maximize the roster?” Campbell said after the game, per MLive. “We’ve been heavy on defense going to the game with the guys that we have. Normally we’re carrying 23 there. Offensively, we teeter between the tight ends or the receivers or halfbacks that you’re trying to bring. We felt like let’s give Rodrigo a go at fullback.”
With Reynolds limited due to injury, practice squad call-ups Ibrahim and Ozigbo were on special teams duty. Unfortunately, Ibrahim suffered a dislocated hip in the second half, which required immediate surgery at a nearby hospital.
Sam LaPorta: 54 (72%)
Brock Wright: 26 (35%) — 11 (52%)
James Mitchell: 0 (0%) — 3 (14%)
LaPorta continues to be a main player on offense, while Brock Wright’s role significantly diminished. Detroit had to abandon the run game early, which meant a significant drop in the amount of 12 personnel usage (one back, two tight ends).
In his return from injury, Mitchell was limited to just three special teams snaps—a mild disappointment.
Amon-Ra St. Brown: 73 (97%)
Josh Reynolds: 55 (73%)
Jameson Williams: 33 (44%)
Antoine Green: 33 (44%) — 11 (52%)
Kalif Raymond: 27 (36%) — 2 (10%)
Marvin Jones Jr.: OUT
St. Brown was another player battling to the bitter end that probably didn’t have to.
Interestingly, with so much garbage time in the second half, the Lions not only used the opportunity to give Jameson Williams a lot of snaps, but rookie Antoine Green nearly doubled his offensive snaps for the entire season. The rookie garnered just a single target but was not able to bring it in.
Taylor Decker: 75 (100%)
Halapoulivaati Vaitai: 75 (100%)
Frank Ragnow: 75 (100%)
Graham Glasgow: 75 (100%)
Penei Sewell: 75 (100%)
Kayode Awosika: DNP
Dan Skipper: DNP
Colby Sorsdal: DNP
Jonah Jackson: RULED OUT
You know it’s a sad day when none of your offensive linemen play a single special teams snap (meaning there were no kick attempts).
That said, Vaitai made his return to the starting lineup, displacing Glasgow to left guard and shifting Kayode Awosika to the bench.
Aidan Hutchinson: 54 (90%)
John Cominsky: 37 (62%) — 6 (29%)
Josh Paschal: 17 (28%)
Romeo Okwara: 10 (17%) — 6 (29%)
Julian Okwara: 8 (13%) — 9 (43%)
Charles Harris: INACTIVE
The Lions made the surprising decision to make Charles Harris a healthy scratch. While Harris hadn’t been playing great through six games, he was a defensive captain and wasn’t noticeably getting outplayed by anyone in particular. Here’s the reasoning Campbell gave for the roster choice:
“Talked to (Charles) earlier in the week and it was—last week we brought nine d-linemen into the game and this week, Paschal’s coming back and we were only going to bring eight. So, it was kinda, ‘Alright, do we bring JO (Julian Okwara) or do we bring Charles?’ That’s really where we were at. We wanted to give JO a shot at it.”
Campbell said they’ll continue to evaluate that gameday roster spot and reiterated that this isn’t necessarily a benching they’ll move forward with.
“Certainly Charles is a guy who puts the work in, he’s one of our captains, he puts the work in,” Campbell said. “He was busting his ass in practice once again, and he knows this isn’t it. This isn’t it for him. He could very well be up next week.”
Benito Jones: 40 (67%) — 6 (29%)
Alim McNeill: 38 (63%) — 6 (29%)
Isaiah Buggs: 33 (55%)
Levi Onwuzurike: INACTIVE
Brodric Martin: INACTIVE
Snaps counts are beginning to converge a bit among the interior defenders, as Isaiah Buggs gets more involved in the game. After his benching for the first two weeks, Buggs has seen a slow increase in playing time.
Meanwhile, with Paschal’s return, it was another healthy scratch week for Levi Onwuzurike. He has now been inactive in two of seven games.
Alex Anzalone: 60 (100%)
Jack Campbell: 54 (90%) — 11 (52%)
Derrick Barnes: 41 (68%) — 3 (14%)
Malcolm Rodriguez: 1 (2%) — 12 (57%)
Jalen Reeves-Maybin: 0 (0%) — 21 (100%)
Anthony Pittman: 0 (0%) — 21 (100%)
Jack Campbell played the most snaps of his young career, as the Lions continue to play him in the SAM (EDGE) linebacker role. That allows Detroit to keep Derrick Barnes at MIKE, where he is playing well. Here’s what linebackers coach Kelvin Sheppard said last week about why he likes Campbell in that edge defender role:
“The ability that we have with that on-ball player to stack back off the ball and it be something natural,” Sheppard said. “Whereas a guy like Charles (Harris), J.O., they can do it absolutely, but it’s not natural for them and you’re asking them to get you out the down vs. ‘Alright, let's stack Jack off the ball. We’re good. Let’s put him on the ball.’ And then what it does is he keeps the offense up all night. Now, they don’t where this player is going to be, where he’s aligning, what his role will be.”
Cam Sutton: 57 (95%)
Will Harris: 50 (83%) — 4 (19%)
Brian Branch: 30 (50%)
Khalil Dorsey: 10 (17%) — 21 (100%)
Steven Gilmore: 2 (3%)
Chase Lucas: 0 (0%) —21 (100%)
Jerry Jacobs: RULED OUT
With the late injury to Jacobs, Will Harris stepped in at the other starting cornerback position. And with Detroit cognizant of the Ravens’ running game, they didn’t run a lot of nickel, limiting Brian Branch’s return from injury to just half of the defensive snaps.
Late in the game, the Lions replaced Harris with Khalil Dorsey and Steven Gilmore also got his first NFL action on defense.
Tracy Walker: 59 (98%) — 3 (14%)
Kerby Joseph: 55 (92%) — 7 (33%)
Ifeatu Melifonwu: 4 (7%) — 17 (81%)
After taking a nasty helmet-to-helmet collision with Odell Beckham Jr., Joseph was forced to get evaluated for a concussion. We didn’t get an update from Campbell after the game, but Joseph seemed to indicate via social media that he was fine.
Jack Fox: 5 (24%)
Scott Daly: 4 (19%)
Riley Patterson: 1 (5%)
Jack Fox was back on kickoff duties, and with no field goal or extra point attempts, it was a slow day for Riley Patterson. Detroit let him try their onside kick attempt, though.