The Detroit Lions moved to 7-2 on the season after a walk-off win in Los Angeles, beating the Chargers 41-38 in Week 10. There were a few subtle changes on both sides of the ball following the Lions' bye week, but none was more anticipated than how Detroit will split snaps between their talented running back duo.
Let’s take a closer look at how the Lions used their personnel on both sides of the ball.
Jared Goff: 66 (100%)
Teddy Bridgewater: N/A
Jared Goff ended his day completing 23 of 33 for 333 passing yards and two touchdowns, but he was masterful in the fourth quarter, going 8 of 8 for 120 passing yards and a score.
Jahmyr Gibbs: 38 (58%)
David Montgomery: 25 (38%)
Craig Reynolds: 3 (5%) — 15 special teams snaps (50%)
(FB) Malcolm Rodriguez: 5 (8%) — 16 (53%)
The snap splits everyone has been waiting for played out close to what most expected, as the rookie slightly outsnaps the veteran bruiser in a battle of high-flying offense. Most weeks, the goal will be to split touches evenly between Gibbs and Montgomery, but there were two factors at play in this game that likely caused the Lions to lean on Gibbs more.
First was the pace of the game. Once this game turned into a track meet late in the game, the Lions leaned on their fastest, most explosive back to press the defense and keep them on their toes. When Gibbs is in the game, the defense has to counter with speed and spread things out more. That, in turn, opens up gaps and allows Goff to carve up secondaries.
Second was Gibbs’ efficiency. Yes, Montgomery ended the day with more total yardage (116 rushing yards vs. Gibbs 112 total yards), and his average of 9.7 yards per carry was impressive, as was his 75-yard score. But if you look at Montgomery’s average in snaps outside that touchdown, he averaged 3.72 yards per carry—still awfully respectable.
Meanwhile, Gibbs averaged 5.5 yards per carry and also caught three passes for 35 yards, and scored twice on the ground.
Bottom line: In this game, versus this opponent, Gibbs gave the Lions the best option to win—and they did.
Will we see the same split next week when the Lions take on the Bears in a revenge game for Montgomery? I’m not so sure, but that’s the beauty of having the best running back tandem in the NFL. The Lions have options.
Sam LaPorta: 53 (80%)
Brock Wright: 34 (52%) — 15 (50%)
James Mitchell: 7 (11%) — 14 (47%)
Not a ton changed here from previous weeks, though LaPorta did see a minor reduction in snaps as the Lions deployed more wide receivers to keep pace with the Chargers.
LaPorta continues to defy rookie stereotypes and is already one of the Lions' best players. When the game was on the line, and the Lions needed a fourth-down conversion to win the game, it was LaPorta’s number that was called, and he delivered.
It was also nice to see Wright get into the end zone, as every week he does a ton of dirty work and rarely gets the glory.
Amon-Ra St. Brown: 61 (92%)
Josh Reynolds: 46 (70%)
Jameson Williams: 34 (52%)
Kalif Raymond: 17 (26%) — 2 (7%)
Antoine Green: 7 (11%) — 8 (27%)
Donovan Peoples-Jones: INACTIVE
St. Brown is a monster and he delivered a career game (156 receiving yards) in his return home to Los Angeles. This was his fourth 100+ receiving yard game in a row and his sixth of the season—which is tied for the lead in the NFL.
Jameson Williams’ snaps continue to increase and his on-field performances are increasing as well. While his numbers are just okay, he made a difficult catch in a clutch situation and was a massive contributor in the blocking game.
Reynolds and Raymond continue to be steady, Green is gaining experience, and Peoples-Jones could make his Lions debut as soon as next week.
Taylor Decker: 66 (100%)
Jonah Jackson: 66 (100%) — 7 (23%)
Frank Ragnow: 66 (100%)
Graham Glasgow: 66 (100%) — 7 (23%)
Penei Sewell: 66 (100%) — 7 (23%)
Colby Sorsdal: 0 (0%) — 7 (23%)
Kayode Awosika: 0 (0%) — 7 (23%)
Dan Skipper: DNP
Halapoulivaati Vaitai: RULED OUT
The Lions starters were finally back together, and holy cow, were they dominant. Zero sacks allowed on the day, and according to Goff, he didn’t get touched.
“Two of our tackles are two of the top guys in the game,” Goff said after Sunday’s win. “Not only were there no sacks, but I don’t think I ever got hit, and that doesn’t happen against a good d-line like that.”
Aidan Hutchinson: 59 (82%) — 1 (3%)
Josh Paschal: 39 (54%) — 1 (3%)
John Cominsky: 27 (38%) — 6 (20%)
Julian Okwara: 22 (31%) — 1 (3%)
Charles Harris: 18 (25%) — 6 (20%)
Romeo Okwara: 18 (25%) — 6 (20%)
Hutchinson called back his snaps just a touch, but the big news here is that Josh Paschal saw starter-level snaps for the first time in his career. The Lions have been shuffling through their defensive end spot opposite Hutchinson, looking for more ways to find pressure. Paschal got his shot at things in this game and it’ll be interesting to see if he impressed coaches enough to continue these increased looks in the future.
Cominsky is the next preferred option on the edge, while Julian continues to lead the reserves in snaps. The Lions will continue to play each of them situationally until someone separates themselves.
Alim McNeill: 50 (69%) — 7 (23%)
Benito Jones: 40 (56%) — 14 (47%)
Isaiah Buggs: 32 (44%)
Brodric Martin: INACTIVE
Levi Onwuzurike: INACTIVE
The Lions continued to lean on McNeill and Jones as their starters and it was Buggs’ turn to work as IDL3. The Lions increased this group's usage a bit as they focused on stopping the Chargers running game.
Alex Anzalone: 72 (100%) — 1 (3%)
Jack Campbell: 39 (54%) — 2 (7%)
Derrick Barnes: 38 (53%) — 8 (27%)
(LB) Malcolm Rodriguez: 5 (7%) — 16 (53%)
Jalen Reeves-Maybin: 0 (0%) — 22 (73%)
Anthony Pittman: 0 (0%) — 22 (73%)
While Anzalone continues to play every snap, the Lions split the other linebacker spot close to evenly between Campbell and Barnes, with the most notable shift being that Barnes was at the SAM in three linebacker sets.
In addition to his five snaps at fullback, Rodriguez also got five snaps on defense, as he continues to play in all three phases of the game. His block on Joey Bosa at the goal line helped free up Gibbs for his first touchdown of the game.
Brian Branch: 67 (93%) — 6 (20%)
Cam Sutton: 67 (93%) — 1 (3%)
Jerry Jacobs: 66 (92%) — 1 (3%)
Will Harris: 5 (7%) — 16 (53%)
Khalil Dorsey: 1 (1%) — 22 (73%)
Chase Lucas: 0 (0%) —22 (73%)
Steven Gilmore: INACTIVE
At this point, I’m not sure if we should list Branch as a corner or a safety because he is playing both. While he is still primarily a nickel—which is why he ends up here—Branch started the game at safety opposite Kerby Joseph in a two-high safety shell. Honestly, with his production and versatility, he should never leave the field.
Harris and Dorsey were injury fill-ins for Sutton and Jacobs.
Kerby Joseph: 65 (90%) — 8 (27%)
Tracy Walker: 60 (83%) — 8 (27%)
Ifeatu Melifonwu: 2 (3%) — 14 (47%)
This was the first time in a while that Joseph did not play every snap on defense, but looking at the overall secondary usage, that was an overall theme, as none of the defensive backs played on every defensive snap. While Walker did not technically start, he was still an important piece of the defensive game plan and saw a significant amount of playing time.
Jack Fox: 15 (50%)
Jake McQuaide: 8 (27%)
Riley Patterson: 7 (23%)
In his first game of the season, McQuaide was called on eight times and none bigger than the last play of the game. With the situation requiring a perfect snap to win the game, McQuaide delivered and Patterson knocked it straight down the middle for the win.
An extra shout-out to McQuaide who tracked down the game-winning football after the successful kick and made sure that Patterson could keep it as a memory.