Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images
Let’s look on the bright side of a moment.
Normally after each game we would look at what the team did well and what the team did poorly in our weekly stock report. As it is, I started writing this article immediately following the long Jeff Driskel-to-Kenny Golladay touchdown and there still weren’t enough positives to have made a stock report a meaningful article. There were just too many players and coaches doing poorly against the Chicago Bears to make a balanced article that I could keep within a reasonable size.
So instead we’re going to make it even more challenging and just look at the good things that happened.
Jeff Driskel has wheels
There we go. Just go full YOLO offense with Driskel and let this thing run out.
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) November 10, 2019
At one point in the game, Jeff Driskel had both of the fastest two plays in the game . The guy can move, and it’s something we got to see quite a bit of. He had a reputation as a guy who tucked and ran too early, and while we did see a little bit of that, his scrambling seemed to have been built into his reads while he showed exceptional escapability from the pocket. I wish I could add more about his passing ability, but the goal is to keep this as positive as possible so I’m going to keep talking about what happened with the dude’s legs rather than his arm.
Tavon Wilson ’s strong day
Tavon Wilson just murdered Anthony Miller.
— Justin Rogers (@Justin_Rogers) November 10, 2019
The best linebacker overall on the field for the Lions against the Bears was Tavon Wilson . Jahlani Tavai had a nice sack late, but weighing mistakes with positives it was easily Wilson for me. When the Lions moved on from Quandre Diggs , it was unpopular. Ultimately it was a football decision more than anything and Diggs had been struggling. Days like this one give us a good indication of why the Lions felt comfortable making a move like that one as Will Harris and Tavon Wilson have combined for a generally solid presence in the defensive backfield.
Snacks looks back
Damon Harrison Sr. started off the year recovering from an injury of unknown severity. He had very little time to work in training camp, but the expectation was that he would pick it up fairly quickly since he had done so exceptionally well last year when the Lions traded for him. Instead, it took nearly half the season for Snacks to look like his old self. Against the Bears, we got to see some of that old-school dominance that we expected to see out of him when he was extended prior to the season.
T.J. Hockenson is finding a groove
While the day wasn’t perfect for the rookie, it was nice to see Hockenson settling in after going down with an injury late in the game last week. Any time a player suffers an injury that could linger, you obviously worry about them being further injured, but there is also a concern the injuries could alter how a player plays the game. Instead, Hockenson broke a bunch of tackles and caught a few key passes in the game to keep the chains moving.
Trey Flowers keeps chugging
— Off The Field Podcast (@OTF___Podcast) November 10, 2019
At times it has seemed like Trey Flowers is the only Lions defensive lineman trying to actually get to the quarterback. This week was an exception only in that Devon Kennard bounced back a bit. Still, it was Flowers that led the way with one sack and another TFL in the backfield, making it difficult for the Bears offensive line throughout the game. The coverage behind him did no favors, but when the Lions signed Trey Flowers to a massive contract this is the type of play they were expecting out of him.
Jahlani Tavai is Detroit’s best linebacker
Netting a second-round rookie as your best linebacker should feel a lot more fulfilling, especially when it was one of the most universally disliked picks of the draft. I’m avoiding the negatives, so I’ll leave it at saying that I wouldn’t have had Tavai as a “stock up” if I did the traditional article.
It’s worthwhile recognizing that with no pass rush and no coverage behind him, the former Hawaii tackling machine has been the best linebacker on the field for the Lions. It’s mostly due to making the fewest mistakes than it is making the most standout plays. Tavai gets mention specifically for making a play, though, when he made a sack on Mitchell Trubisky to help stall a drive.
The “Trade Stafford” stuff should quiet
Look, Jeff Driskel didn’t look terrible, but he looked so far from good that I think we can stop with the whole “Lions should trade Stafford” stuff that pops up every time the Lions lose. We have had eight years without Stafford being out for any meaningful regular season game time, but now that we’ve seen it, I think we can collectively come together and say that we don’t want to see it again any time soon.
Sam Martin is back on top of his game
I fielded a comment about Sam Martin last week that gave me a bit of pause stating that he was having a down year or some such. I mentioned it to someone in a different forum and was told straight up that this might be his worst year of his career. I’m often surprised at how little attention to special teams is played, but this was a lot to take in.
Coming off a week where he was in pain enough to limit him, Sam Martin allowed only 9 yards in the punt return game against the Bears ‘human joystick’ Tarik Cohen . Four of his six punts pinned the Bears inside the 20 and the field position battle was won nearly every time by him. Detroit has now allowed just 50 punt return yards on the year, ranking as one of the best in the NFL both for yards allowed and average per punt. He has been one of the top punters in the NFL this season, so I’m surprised after games like today that people would think the polar opposite.
Jarrad Davis made a bunch of tackles
Prior to the Bears game, Jarrad Davis had only made 18 tackles on the season. Like several others I’ve talked about, Davis would not have been in the “stock up” section of my normal piece after this game by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s notable that he made nearly half of his season total in tackles in a single game against a division rival.
Matt Prater is still money
Matt “Money” Prater is one of the best kickers in Detroit Lions history, and you could entertain an argument that he is the best. For most franchises, that wouldn’t be very meaningful, but in Detroit where we saw Jason Hanson ’s and Eddie Murray’s longevity, it really means something to name him among the best to play the position. Prater hit a 54 yarder against the Bears with a slight crosswind, but it looked like it would have been good from a dozen or so yards further back, and it is crazy how he can make it look so easy at times.