Updating the Rankings Based on Position Performances Through 7:
First number is current ranking. Second (#) is my previous ranking after pre-season.
Coaches don’t play on the field, but they have a huge impact on the readiness of their guys and have choices to make on who plays. So which units look ready and are playing above their experience level? Which are coming up short despite it?
- (4) Hank Fraley (OL) - The OL has been without several of it’s best players yet backups are performing well. Run blocking has been better overall, but they contained Donald most of the game. Fraley jumped to the top spot using 2 backups and a Rookie for the highest graded PFF unit.
- (3). Aubrey Pleasant (DBs) - Every starting CB has gone down to injury and yet all the rookie/UDFAs are improving every week. Walker is having a career year at Safety. This unit has failed at the end of crucial games but part of that is scheme and youth. No other backfield is as green as this unit and yet they improve every week. Pleasant is showing he can build a good group out of practice squad players.
- (1). Duce Staley (RB) - Swift and Williams continue to perform well and get above average YPC behind a green OL. Swift’s blocking and catching has become more inconsistent as the primary drop to this group.
- (9). Mark Deleone (ILBs) - After shedding 3 very poor vets, Anzalone is having a career year and Barnes is getting better every week. Even former ST star Maybin is contributing to a whole new ILB group. Biggest position group jump from preseason/week 1.
- (2). Todd Walsh (DL) - This group has been inconsistent but has rotated a lot of guys. Rookies are showing growth. The Rams fans felt the Detroit DL dominated their run game but pressure other than the A gap was minimal against the Rams.
6 (5) Kelvin Shepphard (OLB) - We’re seeing good pressure from former backup guys like Harris . The outside run game has been pretty limited. This seems like a group on the rise with decent depth. May trade some vets soon.
7 (7). Mark Brunell (QBs) - Hard to say here, but Goff appears to be regressing. Is it all the injuries to OL and WR? Is Brunell helping to get the best out of Goff?
8 (6) Antwaan Randle El (WRs) - Disappointed with this group as a whole. Kalif is an under-sized speedster having a career year. Otherwise injuries have limited the best players. Aman-Ra seems to be reducing his performance. While QB plays a part, why are none of these guys stepping up? Did Antwaan pick any of these guys like Benson? DC had the TEs take one of the WR spots which does not speak well for the WR group.
9 (8). Ben Johnson (TEs) - Hock is getting doubled a lot, but he has seen his targets go down. Lions added an extra TE to the mix on offense with Brock Wright and Fells having the lowest PFF scores last week. This should be a strength of the offense with more veteran players. It’s not.
What are your thoughts? Would you elevate anyone higher? Who as a coach has stood out to you?
Not exactly what you’re asking, but Aaron Glenn seems to be doing really well.
Conversely, I’m really disappointed with Lynn. He just cannot seem to find a way to regularly put the guys on the field in good positions to succeed. I know there are injuries and talent deficiencies, but the scheme seems to highlight them rather than camouflage them.
I’d wonder if the QB coach may be looked at some
Good take. I thought about doing coordinators and ST as well.
The ST coach had 3 successful trick plays last game (2 successful onsides in one season is rare). Coverages have been very good. The kickers have been good including Santoso in an emergency.
The defense under glenn has been improving every week aside from Bengals game. That is so important for a building team with a lot of 1st time starters playing.
As to the offense, I agree with your take on Lynn. They’ve gotten worse nearly every week (OL aside), despite Goff playing fairly consistent (not good, but not awful either).
I think your ratings are pretty good, the only one Id take exception to is Pleasant. So I’d elevate Staley to 2 because Williams and Swift are having their best years. Same with the ILB’s - both guys having career years. I like Pleasant, and he has had bad luck with injuries, but still two or three critical breakdowns esp in end-of-game situations would “prevent” me from putting him second – I’d make him fourth or fifth.
All things considered, I think you should be optimistic, if not pleased. Some serious multifrontal adversity going on with this team & the coaches have kept it from snowballing. Well, maybe there are a few snowballs, but no avalanches, imo.
I’d be most concerned about Randle-El & Ben Johnson. Not seeing enough of the technical improvement that , for example,you’re seeing in flashes w/ the DBs or complementary football as a unit.Similar level of adversity, talent, experience with the DBs, imo. Noticeably different results.
Saw a pair of shallow crossers nearly collide on one play vs The Rams & other correctable, non-talent-dependent issues. The EZ INT vs LAR is another brutal example; the TE route spacing that Campbell spoke about.
I already really liked Fipp before the trickeration fest. His pressers are informative & well-communicated. Not at all surprised that his group executed so well. Not just the flash, though; stopping KR returns short of the 20 like they did vs LAR makes a difference over a game,imo.
I also think STs performance is a good early barometer of roster growth/personnel acquisition. The metaphorical early returns have been good even if the literal returns haven’t necessarily thrilled. At least your coach isn’t using one of your MVPs to return punts…if Kupp gets hurt on STs, I will poop a brick & beat myself into a coma with it.
I am trying to avoid visualizing that. That hasn’t been successful, so now I’m trying transference and imagining you tickling your nose with a Twinkie. Much better.
Bro, love that you put this list together to generate conversation. You’re part of what makes this board awesome.
I think Kupp is just back there to have safe hands to catch the punt. They don’t really expect him to return unless it’s the playoffs and the season is on the line. That said, Kupp is a hell of a player and goes all in every rep. He likely won’t make the playoffs once again because he is Staffords #1 favorite and gets used too much in regular reps.
Agreed on Randel El and Ben Johnson. Question is does that stem from Lynn not getting everyone on the same page, or two individual coaches not able to execute with their player groups?
Sometimes poop brick self-abuse is literal , sometimes not, like Freud’s cigar…
Leaving the phallic implications aside, why would tickling my nose with a twinkie evoke the suicidal frustration I was going for ?
Unless I had hardcore munchies & I never got a bite of that chemically-enhanced gooey deliciosity.
All it takes is one guy getting blocked into his knees while making those fair catches. Can’t believe they can’t find someone who can at least do that. And isn’t that just taking a potential explosive-maker away if you’re hardly ever going to even try a return ? How about the incremental advantage in field position that just a few yards per punt return can bring to the team’s success. Sorry, not buying it.
Totally agree about Kupp, otherwise ; hence, the poop brick of Damocles over my head.
How could anyone tell about the ratio of blame on anything so early ? There’s much more data and continuity on The Rams & I’m still not sure why they are getting better results individually, by unit, as a team than last year. I worry a bit about the Campbell/Lynn game management relationship. Not sure these guys are on the same page enough in big moments.
I pretty much agree with everything you put here. Cool post and thank you for putting it together!
I would be more inclined to put Pleasant #1 though only because I feel he has done the most with the absolute least. They’ve had a rotating door at CB, have we even had the same starters two weeks in a row?
Otherwise I agree, OL and DB groups could be 1 and 1A. The DL has been pretty good as well albeit with more talent and not so much turnover. I like the RBs and think Staley has done a good job with them however swift and Williams are legit mostly proven players. Although I see Swift really taking a step up this season and getting closer to being an every down back. He’s definitely been more consistent this year.
I would put Pleasant at one because he’s really started with less than anybody (arguably - case for WR)) and he deserves at least some credit for making undrafted rookies look decent. Not only that, but he might have made Will Harris not completely suck. Maybe. Still early on that.
Really liking the improvement on D. The O seems like its regressing though.
Experience in the group is definitely a factor. Fells is one of the oldest guys on the team and while he’s limited athletically, he should be having a much bigger impact.
Compare that to AJ Parker, who is an UDFA that has played as the best CB all season. Really hope his injury is short lived.
Funny you mention Fells… only because I really liked him when he was on the team a couple years ago, and whenever his number got called he made catches/made plays. I always thought he was a solid player and was a bit upset when he left, although considering the coaching staff coming in I didn’t blame him, he probably knew more than we did.
That being said, I still feel the same about him. Whenever he gets thrown a pass he catches it. Never noticed him blowing a blocking assignment… he’s just a solid all around guy. So to your point I’m always kind of thinking to myself “why don’t they throw to Fells more?”
And yes, AJ Parker seems to be playing above and beyond his “status” as a UDFA. Him and Jerry jacobs. The biggest compliment to Pleasant and the secondary is if you said Parker and Jacobs would be starters at the beginning of the year we’d have all been like aww shit… but jacobs has been damn impressive, as has Parker, and it’s not a fair comparison but they are playing better than Okudah was. Oruwariye seems to be maintaining and staying strong.
The safety shuffle has also been a hit interesting in that Marlowe has come in, yet Walker and Harris are staying in there and improving from what I can tell
Ben Johnson and Randle El have moved up based on the last few weeks. The WRs are starting to make plays and Goff looks more comfortable. That tells me that Lynn had everyone confused and while DC may not be the greatest play caller, he at least is allowing the offense to go out and play some football. Delay of game penalties have gone way down as well.
The TEs haven’t been great but Brock Wright with a big TD and supposedly Ben is helping DC with the passing game.
I’d probably drop Walsh and Shepphard to the bottom at this point. They’ve had a lot of injuries like every position. I’m not seeing enough penetration and they lose outside contain frequently. Rookies are contributing but don’t appear to be developing as fast UDFA guys.
Going back to a year ago. Wow what 10 months difference makes for the offense. Aman-Ra went on to have a record setting end to the year and beginning of this year. Josh Reynolds was acquired and setting his own PRs. Randle El has built up a deep WR group and Jamo hasn’t even played yet.
I still say the TEs haven’t been magnificent aside from hock yesterday, but no one can argue the job Johnson is doing with the offense. I think he is a better OC than TE coach.
At this point, the Defense is struggling way more than I thought they would. They showed flashes of ability to get penetration, but now they are abandoning assignments to get to the QB.
DC in his presser today said major changes are coming to personnel and scheme. He discussed the snowball effect of one guy not trusting another so he overcompensates and loses on his position and then the guy next to him has to compensate and it all falls apart. Plans to simplify the defense so it can play fast and with trust again.
DC saying he has complete faith in Glenn and that Glenn is the best hope the Lions have is interesting. As most of the players were on the team last year, they should be able to shift the scheme somewhat without too much trouble.
Interested to see who they swap out and if they make someone else the play caller on defense for the time being since the Seahawks said they knew what was coming every 3rd down play.
The posters on the den really couldn’t do worse than AG yesterday. The Hawks didn’t punt once, Stevie Wonder could call a better game.
Hasn’t that been their whole goal since the beginning? I’m pretty sure this is exactly what they said they were doing when they first came in because Patricia’s scheme was so complicated and bad.