The Detroit Lions got the exact bounce-back game they needed on Monday Night Football against the Las Vegas Raiders. And, while it was only a 12-point victory, the game was never close. The Lions moved to 6-2 on their season and head into their much-needed bye week, while the Raiders fall to 3-5 and will be a very interesting team to watch ahead of today's trade deadline.
Detroit Lions Studs and Duds vs. Raiders
Anyone with eyeballs yesterday watching the game knows the basic idea of who would fit this criteria. There were a lot of studs in those slick Honolulu blue helmets and a few duds. Though, if we're being honest, those duds were really just things that need to be cleaned up when they play an actually good team.
Duds vs. the Raiders show where Detroit needs to improve
There's really a lot of nitpicking that can take place when you're trying to look for things to improve after a completely dominating performance. The Lions gave up a total of 157 yards on defense, only 77 of that through the air. Devonte Adams only had one catch (though the Lions got a bit lucky here), and Josh Jacobs had one good drive leading to a score.
Dud #1: Jared Goff and Jameson Williams rapport
Look, I know there are those who will label me as a “hater” because I just don't trust Jared Goff when it counts. He can be really good, nearly great, when he's in rhythm, protected, and on his spot. But, when he's knocked off his spot due to pressure – specifically to the left – he's not good. He cannot improvise or make plays if not squarely in the pocket and in rhythm. And, let's not forget he had a grand total of 42 yards passing in the second half and a pick-six.
But what is more concerning is his inability to throw the ball well to Jameson Williams. He was 50% on completions to Jamo and should've been 100% had he been on time and target with the throw that led to a “drop” from Jameson. The play design was spectacular, the route was crisp, and the ball was late and behind Jamo. And, before you go knocking me for “not knowing ball,” I know a back shoulder throw and what is dictated by it. Had Goff thrown the ball on time and to the front pylon, Jameson outruns the coverage and gets six, easily. Now, we saw how good this connection could be later in the game when Goff beautifully on time and target hit Jamo on a crossing route that went for 22 yards. This connection has to be better moving forward because Jameson is dynamic and Goff can be really good if he can be consistent in hitting him on time and on target.
Dud #2: The Detroit Lions Red Zone offense
This isn't even nitpicking, this is straight-up calling out the Lions. They were bad in the Red Zone. In fact, they had to settle for three field goal attempts, making two of them. They didn't get a single touchdown while in the red zone and were often getting too cute. Whether it was a jet sweep to Jameson Williams that was blown up by (future Lion?) Maxx Crosby or a double pass that Amon-Ra St. Brown didn't throw, they just got too cute.
In the Red Zone, the Lions had a fumble, missed a field goal, and settled for two field goals leaving a ton of points on the field. Against an actual good team, they would've struggled to recover and win that game. Thankfully, the Raiders have zero ability to offense at all and the Lions' defense stood tall during this game. This Red Zone offense has to get cleaned up as the Lions prepare for stiffer competition into the playoffs.
Dud #3: A.J. Reilly (yes, me) for hating on Alex Anzalone
Yes, I am absolutely calling myself out on this one. And, deservedly so. Even though Pro Football Focus graded him out overall poorly, they were flat wrong. Anzalone played a really good game and was involved in a ton of the action last night, including two of the Lions' six sacks.
Overall, Anzalone is having one of the best seasons he's ever had. The Lions signed him to an extension in the offseason and it was begrudged by yours truly. But there's something to be said about this guy's ability to lead men and he's doing just that. So, Alex, my bad man … I'll keep my mouth shut (for now.)
Studs vs. the Raiders
When you have such a lopsided game it's really easy to see the standouts. For the Lions, there were a couple of guys who really did have fantastic games that led to the one-sided victory. We'll discuss two of them from the offense and a group of them on the defense.
Stud #1: Jahmyr Gibbs, the dude
We've been calling for a Jahmyr Gibbs breakout game for a couple of weeks. Especially with David Montgomery out, the stage was set for the first-round pick to shine. Now, admittedly it was against one of the worst rush defenses in the league, but I DO NOT CARE. Jahmyr was electric and was exactly what he was drafted to be.
While it may seem like this kid has been “missing” through the first eight games, the Lions are getting exactly what they need out of him. He has a total of 564 scrimmage yards through his first six games, which is good for third in franchise history, right behind Barry Sanders. Also, his 26 carries last night matched D'Andre Swift for the amount of times he carried more than 20 times in his three years here. This kid is legit and is going to be a lot of fun to watch moving forward.
Stud #2: Penei Sewell's blocking mastery
Penei Sewell had a tough task this week facing (future Lion?) Mad Maxx. [Look, I'm going to keep saying “future Lion” in order to will it into existence, bear with me.] He even spoke about this matchup this week in comparison to his fellow Lion Aidan Hutchinson. Sewell did a great job on Maxx, too. Of the 86 snaps that Crosby played, he only got four total pressures on Goff. He was really good last night and that impact was felt on the field, allowing Goff comfort on the edges with a makeshift interior line.
Stud(s) #3: The entire Lions secondary
They got torched in Week 8 against the Ravens, but the Lions' secondary played phenomenally last night. Tracy Walker, Brian Branch, Jerry Jacobs, Cam Sutton, and Kerby Joseph showed out and locked it down at Ford Field. They limited the Raiders wideouts to just four total catches, and specifically Devante Adams to just one. Not only were the like Fort Knox on the back end, but these guys were supportive in the run game and were part of a defense that only surrendered 157 total yards, and 77 through the air. Sure, they were facing Jimmy Garappolo who is not a good quarterback, and the Raiders' offense was entirely fraudulent, but they showed out and locked it down exactly like they should've done. Absolute studs.
The Bottom Line
The Lions head into the Bye Week sitting at 6-2 and atop the NFC North Division. They should be looking to add a piece at today's trade deadline (future Lion Maxx Crosby) to help push them toward their first division title in a long time, and their first playoff win since I was in Kindergarten. They're in the driver's seat and facing the Los Angeles Chargers coming out of the bye will be their only real test until the Cowboys down the line. Get excited Lions fans, these guys are for real.