Another game, another week of disbelief that these are the same Detroit Lions we know and love. Forgive me if this week’s stock report is a bit one-sided, it was a beautiful team performance from start to finish. Here are your movers this week:
Stock up: James Houston, DL
Houston now leads this team in sacks. The guy who didn’t play an NFL snap until Thanksgiving Day. The guy who didn’t make the 53-man roster out of training camp. The guy who was drafted in the sixth round. The guy who sacked Justin Fields three times Sunday.
Stock up: Penei Sewell, OL
I put Penei Sewell in the stock down list in late November after he was flirting with the league lead in penalties. The middle stretch of the season was not kind to him. Since then, however, Sewell has played clean, effective ball, both at and beyond the line of scrimmage. The latter was especially true Sunday. Sewell was frequently blocking 10-20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, including on an early Kalif Raymond screen and later on the Jameson Williams reverse.
Sewell is a cornerstone of this offense and this team, and the Lions are better when Sewell is better. Sewell was great, Sunday, and the rest of the offense followed.
Stock up: Josh Paschal, DL
Josh Paschal had a strong presence in run defense when he made his NFL debut in late October. But ever since suffering a midseason injury, Paschal has been fairly quiet. Sunday he returned to the spotlight, but not in the way we remembered him. He got his first career sack, notably on one of the league’s most mobile quarterbacks. Even more impressive, however, was his second sack, which he managed to pull off while getting caught.
This is the kind of development you want to see out of your young players, and it’s very encouraging progress for a guy who didn’t get to have a training camp.
Stock down: Jeff Okudah, CB
Okudah went from CB1 and potential Comeback Player of the Year in the first half of the season to getting benched now for the second week in a row. He alternated time with Mike Hughes on Sunday opposite Jerry Jacobs, a continuation of last week’s personnel change after Okudah struggled against the Jets and Panthers. Notably, Okudah was also the starting gunner on punt coverage.
Okudah didn’t have a bad game, but those changes are a clear testament of what this coaching staff thinks his value is right now. He has lost some of their trust that he had before (and you can’t blame them after the last two games). You rarely put your best players on special teams, especially at punt gunner. Okudah is expendable, and Sunday made that crystal clear.
Stock up: Jameson Williams, WR
After bursting onto the scene with a long touchdown reception against the Vikings, Jamo has been silent ever since. The Lions clearly wanted to change that Sunday, targeting Williams early and often on offense. However, he and Jared Goff weren’t on the same page and it led to a handful of missed throws. Ben Johnson apparently decided that Williams was getting the ball no matter what it took, as Williams was the beneficiary of a reverse pitch that would go for 40 yards on the opening drive of the third quarter. It would go as Williams’ only touch of the day, but it was a beautiful one and part of a statement drive by the Lions to start the second half.
Stock down: Shane Zylstra, TE
Zylstra came back down to earth following last week’s three-touchdown breakout game in Carolina. On his lone reception Sunday on a third-and-long, he slipped about 5 yards short of the first down. His only other appearance on the stat sheet was a holding call that brought back a D’Andre Swift conversion on third down early in the fourth quarter. Not an awful day for a guy who usually doesn’t appear much, but it looks as though last week’s performance was an outlier rather than a sign of things to come.
Stock up: Jared Goff, QB
Goff was, for the most part, in his bag Sunday. What really stood out to me to warrant a stock up, though, was his second-half throw on a rope down the sideline to DJ Chark, who made a one-handed catch for the first down. We’ve rarely seen Goff confidently throw into such tight coverage, so to do so and place the ball impeccably was a sight to see. Goff’s chemistry with Chark continues to heat up, and it’s opening up a dimension of Goff we haven’t seen before.
Brad Holmes, GM: I don’t need to say much, just read the names on the stock up from this week. He’s building an absolute madhouse of a roster.
Mike Hughes, CB: Hughes has been the beneficiary of Jeff Okudah’s unfortunate struggles, and he continues to step up admirably—we didn’t hear his name called much Sunday, but for a corner, that’s often a good thing.
DJ Chark, WR: Chark is becoming a staple of this offense following his return from injury, and as mentioned above, his chemistry with Jared Goff continues to improve week after week. He also sprung a beautiful block on Jamo’s reverse to open up the last 10 or so yards.
Ifeatu Melifonwu, S: After an awful performance last week at Carolina, Iffy bounced back well Sunday, finishing with half a sack and two passes defended.
Aidan Hutchinson, DL: Hutchinson now holds the NFL record for most interceptions by a defensive lineman in a season. Not bad, rookie.