Rookie review: Breaking down the film of Kerby Joseph, Aidan Hutchinson

Pride of Detroit

It’s not often that you score 45 points in the NFL and lose, but that is exactly where the Detroit Lions found themselves in Week 4—losing 48-45 to the Seattle Seahawks. Offensively, it was largely another strong showing for the Lions. Defensively? Well, that’s another story entirely.

Let’s take a look at how each member of the Lions’ 2022 draft class fared in Week 4 of the regular season.

Aidan Hutchinson, DL

57 snaps (81% of total defensive snaps) — 9 special teams snaps (27%)
PFF defensive grade: 64.3

Believe it or not, nearly every single rookie that enters the NFL will need an acclimation period. Regardless of position or where they were drafted, very rarely does a player come in and immediately set the league on fire. Everyone is a professional and the level of competition is something completely new to rookies.

With that said, the Lions are going to need more from second overall pick Aidan Hutchinson. He has had a few moments where he has popped, but lately, he is going quiet for long periods of time, to the point where you forget he is on the field. Not winning one-on-ones is one thing, but consistently finishing your rush behind a mobile quarterback like Geno Smith makes zero sense. And yet, Hutchinson, veteran Charles Harris, reserve edge-rushers Julian Okwara and Austin Bryant—everyone was guilty of it.

Still, it wasn’t all bad. At times, Hutchinson flashed against the run.


Another (rare) instance of Hutchinson staying home, keeping his shoulders square with the line of scrimmage, and making the simple play.

Based off of my rewatch, Hutchinson is favoring his bull-rush a little too much, and seems to be relying on it when he gets tired later in the game. For now, this defense is thin, and reinforcements won’t be coming for some time. Coach Dan Campbell mentioned they might look at moving Hutchinson around more. Maybe that helps get him out of the current rut he finds himself in.

Jameson Williams, WR

DNP: Recovering from knee injury suffered in January

Josh Paschal, DL

DNP: Recovering from sports hernia surgery

Kerby Joseph, S

70 (100%) — 9 (27%)
PFF defensive grade: 66.5

It was very much a trial by fire for Joseph, who was tasked with attempting to fill veteran leader Tracy Walker’s shoes. From the very first offensive series for Seattle, Joseph appeared to be someone the Seahawks wanted to test.

After shaving nearly half of the first quarter off of the clock, Seattle ended up finding the endzone on an easy pitch-and-catch from Smith to tight end Will Dissly. Joseph was more or less where he needed to be in terms of coverage, but was unable to make any kind of play on the ball. It was a well-run route by Dissly and a great throw by Smith, but after all we have heard about Joseph’s ball skills, you would have liked to see him at least attempt to work through the receiver’s hands.

On this next play below, it’s difficult to tell exactly who miscommunicated with who—but it certainly looks like Joseph had at least something to do with the blown coverage.

Nobody should be writing off Joseph or any other rookie four games through their first season, but it is important to remember that development takes time. Learning on the job like Joseph currently is, isn’t always pretty. After all, the plan in 2022 was for Joseph to learn behind veterans, not to be playing 100% of the defensive snaps before the bye week.

James Mitchell, TE

5 (7%) — 14 (42%)
PFF offensive grade: 47.8

It appears the Lions are taking a slow and steady approach with how they are bringing along tight end James Mitchell. It makes sense when you consider Mitchell is coming off of a knee injury that cut his final year at Virginia Tech short. Furthermore, tight end is widely regarded as one of the more difficult transitions college players can go through during their first few years as a pro.

Mitchell was not targeted in the passing game in any of his five offensive snaps. Instead, he appeared to be part of the Lions’ “heavy” personnel that teams often use in short-yardage situations.

Malcolm Rodriguez, LB

55 (79%) — 3 (9%)
PFF defensive grade: 83.8

While it was an overall putrid showing from the defense, rookie linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez had a nice bounce back game after a tough showing in Week 3 against the Minnesota Vikings. He finished with 11 total tackles, one tackle for loss, one quarterback hit, and even forced a fumble while on punt coverage.

Defensively, he continues to be the best linebacker on this roster.

Other times, Rodriguez very much looks like a rookie linebacker; one that is trying to do too much and it ended up biting him more than a few times against the Seahawks. This is late in the game, and at this point, the Lions’ defense has seen this action several times. Quarterback Geno Smith fakes a stretch-handoff to running back Kenneth Walker Jr. while a tight end simultaneously releases into the right flat.

It worked time and time again in Week 4. Almost like your annoying cousin who runs the same play on Madden over and over. But if you’re Seahawks’ coach Pete Carroll, you will take it all day if it’s going to be that easy.

Similar to last week against the Vikings, Rodriguez and the rest of the defense need to take what happened against the Seahawks as a learning experience.

Chase Lucas, DB

0 (0%) — 16 (48%)
Lucas was limited to special teams duty against Seattle.

Undrafted Free Agents

Demetrius Taylor, DL

DNP: Was inactive for Week 4

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