Football is a game of inches, and Sunday was as much of a reminder as ever for Detroit Lions fans. It was a painful overtime loss, but it gave plenty to be optimistic about in some facets against one of the league’s better teams. In others, it left a lot to be desired. Here are your movers for the week.
Stock up: Sam LaPorta, TE
Stats: 5 catches (6 targets), 63 yards
LaPorta continues to quickly develop into Jared Goff’s safety net. As far as safety nets go, he’s an excellent option. LaPorta is showing strong hands, excellent field awareness, and an ability to gain yards after the catch that Lions fans haven’t seen out of a tight end in half a decade.
Lions rookie TE Sam LaPorta continues to look fantastic.— Seven Rounds in Heaven (@7RoundsInHeaven) September 17, 2023
Flashing his athleticism in his route, and his power running through defenders after the catch. pic.twitter.com/eFMC6DWU36
LaPorta had several impressive grabs on the day, but arguably his best came on third-and-12 late in the game. Down 10, the Lions needed a touchdown. LaPorta snatched a would-be interception from Seahawks cornerback Coby Bryant 3 yards short of the sticks and broke a tackle to fight for the first down.
LaPorta wasn’t perfect on the day, as he did have some missed assignments in run blocking, but he redeemed himself and continues to show growth week over week.
Stock down: Aaron Glenn, Defensive coordinator
I went back and forth on whether to give Glenn a stock down here because I don’t want to be reactionary, but at some point Glenn has to be held accountable. It’s year three for him as defensive coordinator, and he doesn’t have any more excuses as far as talent goes. The Lions spent plenty of money and draft picks on premium defenders to fit his vision of this defense.
Yet here we are, watching the Lions get torched by the Seahawks for the third season in a row. Even with the Seahawks down both starting offensive tackles, the Lions have a single sack to show for through two weeks, and that came from Alex Anzalone, not a pass rusher. The secondary looked helpless at times and the defense couldn’t get a stop in overtime.
I wrote last week about Glenn, “If the Lions didn’t finish the job Thursday night, we’d be talking very differently about the several mishaps in the secondary.” Sunday the Lions didn’t finish the job, and at some point there has to be accountability. Maybe I’m too early and too harsh, but Glenn has at least a marginal stock down in my book after Sunday.
Stock down: Jerry Jacobs, CB
Stats: 8 tackles
Speaking of a struggling defense, Jerry Jacobs probably struggled the most on Sunday. Tyler Lockett put him in a blender from start to finish, and Jacobs simply couldn’t stop Geno Smith’s air attack. Lockett would finish the day with eight catches for 59 yards and two touchdowns, much of which came against Jacobs.
Admittedly, Jacobs did get called for a questionable pass interference early on. That aside, though, he still struggled tremendously and did not look Sunday like the CB2 we saw in 2022.
Stock up: Josh Reynolds, WR
Stats: 5 catches (6 targets), 66 yards, 2 TD
Reynolds has flown under the radar with the Lions’ emerging stars and new additions across their receiving corps. However, Sunday served as a reminder that he and Jared Goff still go way back and Reynolds has still got it. Reynolds took the reins of the offense with Amon-Ra St. Brown in and out of the offense with injuries. Even with ARSB around, Reynolds took the lead in finding gaps against the Seahawks defense. He’s providing a much-needed intermediate threat to complement St. Brown while Jameson Williams is out.
Stock up: Derrick Barnes, LB
Stats: 7 tackles
Barnes is really growing into his rotational role as a run defender. The Lions are allowing him to play to his strengths and have enough depth that they don’t have to ask him to do anything more. Barnes is clearly getting comfortable, and was a missile on defense Sunday.
Derrick Barnes has 3 tackles on run plays so far. Seattle has gained 0, 1 and 0 yards on those three carries— Jeff Risdon (@JeffRisdon) September 17, 2023
Our own Ryan Mathews put it best:
Derrick Barnes as a run defender is a *revelation*— Ryan Mathews (@Ryan_POD) September 17, 2023
Stock down: Jonah Jackson, OG
Jackson struggled in Week 1 in what looked like an anomaly, but unfortunately Week 2 was a lot of the same. He’s continuing to find himself out of position. That’s not good considering a single missed assignment from an offensive lineman can completely blow up a play—and it did Sunday.
Really bad whiff by Jonah Jackson on that screen. He’s not doing himself any favors when it comes to a contract extension through two weeks.— Hamza Baccouche #BNL (@HamzaPOD) September 17, 2023
With Halapoulivaati Vaitai going down with an injury (the severity of which is still unclear, per Dan Campbell’s postgame press conference) the Lions need Jackson to be sharp as they fill the gaps. Anything less could be costly as the season progresses.
Alex Anzalone, LB: Anzalone spent much of the day trending downwards with a handful of missed or sloppy tackles. However, his late-game heroics redeemed him and kept the Lions in the game.
Jared Goff, QB: Goff continues to show tremendous poise, unlike when he first arrived in Detroit. He showed lots of confidence in tight windows Sunday, including his first touchdown pass to Josh Reynolds, which may be one of his best throws as a Lion.
Graham Glasgow, OG: Glasgow stepped in seamlessly when Halapoulivaati Vaitai went down with an injury. Early returns are proving him to be a solid investment for Detroit.
Brock Wright, TE: Wright didn’t look like his normal self, whiffing on several early blocks in the run game. That’s his forte, so he’ll need to correct that quickly if he wants to stay on the field.
Matt Nelson, OT: Nelson struggled amidst the last minute call-up to right tackle, most notably giving up the pressure that forced Jared Goff’s pick-six.
Marvin Jones Jr., WR: I don’t recall seeing MJJ on the field at all Sunday. After the Lions asked a lot of him in Week 1 and he continuously struggled, it seems like he’s fallen down the depth chart in favor of rookie Antoine Green.