Let’s take a closer look at how things are trending immediately following Week 16.
Stock Up: running game/offensive line
With starting quarterback Jared Goff out of the lineup, it appeared at first glance that the Lions faced even more stacked boxes against the Falcons. Atlanta clearly wasn’t concerned with the Lions beating them over the top, which is what makes averaging nearly four yards per attempt on 33 carries all that more impressive.
There weren’t any big splash plays, but the Lions were effective when they elected to hand the ball off, racking up 130 yards on the ground.
Running back Craig Reynolds was less productive against Atlanta than previous weeks, while veteran Jamaal Williams saw a large share of the workload (19 carries for 77 yards), in his return to the lineup after being out for multiple games.
Besides the pre-snap penalties, I felt like the Lions’ offensive line had another solid game – both in creating running room and protecting the quarterback.
Stock Up: Amon-Ra St. Brown
Different quarterback, similar results for St. Brown. The rookie receiver out of the University of Southern California keeps producing – finishing with nine catches for 91 yards, and a touchdown.
And more important than his stat line, is how he gets there.
St. Brown does it all. He makes the tough, contested catches over the middle. He blocks. He runs great routes. It’s still early and the sample size isn’t the biggest, but general manager Brad Holmes has to be smiling from ear to ear when he thinks about St. Brown.
Stock Down: tight end position
This continues to be a major issue with tight end T.J. Hockenson on injured reserve.
On top of a big drop-off in terms of receiving production, tight end Brock Wright continues to have problems with pre-snap penalties.
And to make matters worse, reserve tight end Shane Zylstra was carted off of the field with a knee injury, leaving an already decimated tight end group even thinner than they were coming into Atlanta.
Stock Down: Tim Boyle
This was a rough performance for Boyle. He had accuracy issues throughout the course of the game, culminating with the interception that ended any chance the Lions had at completing the comeback victory.
The Lions didn’t ask much of Boyle. They ran the ball early and often, limiting third and long attempts, doing their best to make the game manageable for the inexperienced quarterback.
At the end of the day, Boyle showed us a lot of what we saw during training camp and in the preseason—a quarterback with a big arm, and major accuracy issues.