What were Detroit Lions thinking signing Chase Daniel in free agency?

Detroit Free Press

Dave Birkett
| Detroit Free Press

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Free Press sports writer Dave Birkett breaks down the Detroit Lions’ 47-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and looks at players who helped their stock and and hurt their stock Saturday at Ford Field:

Stock up

QB Tom Brady: At 43 years old, Brady just put together maybe the greatest four quarters of football in NFL history. In the second half of last week’s come-from-behind win over the Atlanta Falcons, and the first half of Saturday’s game, Brady completed 43 of 56 passes (76.8%) for 668 yards and six touchdowns. He had his way with a shorthanded Lions defense Saturday, and in his first year in a new system, he has the Bucs looking like a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

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KR/PR Jamal Agnew: Agnew came close to breaking return touchdowns each of the last two weeks, and on Saturday he finally hit paydirt, taking a punt 74 yards for the Lions’ only score, early in the third quarter. Agnew got good blocks on the play from jammers Justin Coleman and Mike Ford, and he also made two nice tackles in punt coverage. He’s worth keeping around in 2021 as a special teams ace.

Stock down

QB Chase Daniel: The Lions signed Daniel to a three-year, $13 million contract this offseason to avoid situations like this — where they look completely inept on offense when Matthew Stafford can’t go. Daniel completed 13 of 18 passes Saturday, but for just 86 yards as he failed to move the offense with any purpose. He has $1.5 million in salary guarantees for 2021, but the next regime will have to think long and hard about bringing in a new backup.

DAVE BIRKETT: Time has come for the Lions to shut down QB Matthew Stafford

S Duron Harmon: Harmon makes this list for a second straight week. Whether he’s trying to hard to account for the Lions’ defensive shortcomings or is no longer the player he was in New England is up for debate, but Harmon has not played great football in recent weeks. On Saturday, he got beat on a 47-yard pass on the second series of the game and took a bad angle on a bubble screen that went for another 29 yards.

[ Brady showed the Detroit Lions the one thing their next QB needs ]

CB Darryl Roberts: The Lions gave up 491 yards passing, so it’s only fitting that a couple defensive backs make the “down” list. Roberts slipped on a 33-yard pass on the game’s first series, looked lost on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Blaine Gabbert to Mike Evans and struggled so bad early that the Lions benched him in favor of practice squad call-up Tramaine Brock. Roberts can be a serviceable fourth cornerback, but when asked to take on a bigger role, he has struggled.

GRADES FROM SATURDAY: Secondary gets worse than an F

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NFL’s COVID-19 protocols: I don’t think it would have made much of a difference, but the NFL did not do the Lions any favors by making them play Saturday’s game with five coaches in quarantine. The league has been consistent in not moving games for competitive reasons this season, and if they made exceptions to that rule, it no doubt would cause problems. Still, the Lions’ slim chances of pulling an upset Saturday evaporated when they lost interim head coach Darrell Bevell, defensive coordinator Cory Undlin and three top defensive assistants for the week. It would be one thing if all five were dealing with COVID and out long-term, but the fact they would have been allowed to coach had the NFL pushed the game to Sunday seems like an easy enough move to make.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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