What a day and what a win. Talk about an upset. A couple weeks ago, I said that the Lions put together their most complete team game yet for the win over the Packers, but this one easily one-upped that performance for the title. Let’s take a look at your movers for the week.
Stock up: Alim McNeill, DT
What a day for McNeill. Although this was a team win and the Lions won by a large margin, it would have been a much closer victory, if a victory at all, without McNeill’s stellar performance. From the get-go, the sophomore defensive tackle set up shop in the New York Giants’ backfield, regardless of whether it was a run or pass. He made Daniel Jones visibly uncomfortable and constantly generated pass rush pressure up the middle that we haven’t seen so far under this regime. It made all the difference, constantly flushing Daniel Jones out into the loving embrace of defensive ends or forcing him to make one of his many errant throws Sunday.
McNeill’s pass rush stats finished as one sack and three quarterback hits, which are absolutely absurd for an interior lineman and doesn’t even account for all of the assists he gave the rest of the defense.
Stock up: Brock Wright, TE
Although Brock Wright isn’t posting eye-popping numbers, the Lions are making it clear they’re trusting him to be a bigger part of the offense. We’re seeing him consistently get a handful of targets and Ben Johnson is finding new ways to get him open each week. On the ground, Wright continues to shine as a run blocker. He was a big part of the Lions’ success on the ground today, cleanly and consistently sealing the edges for running backs to get behind. Everyone, especially wide receivers, have contributed to making T.J. Hockenson’s absence unnoticeable, but it starts with Brock Wright and that’s a testament to the job he has done so far.
Stock down: D’Andre Swift, RB
I hate to see Swift back on this side of stock report, but it’s getting bad. At this point I just don’t trust Swift with the ball in his hands, not for fear of fumbles or injury but simply for fear of wasting a down. Barring his fourth-quarter touchdown run, Swift looked scared and incapable of running north and south. It was much of the same horizontal movement we’ve seen the last couple weeks, and it hurt to see, especially considering how well everyone else was doing on the ground.
The worst part, too, is that Swift is supposedly back to full health, so we can’t blame this on the injuries anymore. Swift isn’t running like the player he’s supposed to be, and his five touches Sunday show that the coaching staff doesn’t trust him to be that player for the time being.
Stock up: Justin Jackson, RB
Swift’s downfall has been the land of opportunity for Justin Jackson, and Sunday cemented Jackson’s status as RB2 on this team. Jackson finished with almost twice as many carries (9) as Swift (5), and almost doubled Swift’s yards per carry. Jackson doesn’t have the same burst and shiftiness that Swift has, but he provides a nice speedy contrast to Jamaal Williams’ game, and right now he has done a lot more with his carries than Swift. The writing is on the wall regarding Swift’s future with the team, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Jackson continues to get the bulk of carries in what was Swift’s role so the staff can further evaluate if he’s a sustainable substitute.
Stock down: DJ Chark, WR
We’re entering Thanksgiving week and Chark has yet to cross the hundred-yard mark—not in a game, but cumulatively for the season. In the four games he has been healthy enough to play in, Chark has seven catches for 98 yards. The Lions were able to get a talent like him on discount in free agency because of his injury history, so it can’t come as a huge surprise. What is surprising and equally disappointing, though, is Chark’s lack of involvement when he is on the field. Two of his four games, including Sunday, have seen him finish with a blank stat sheet. That’s not for lack of a role, either, as the Lions don’t have a deep threat with Josh Reynolds out as of late. The hope was that Chark’s presence this week would stretch the field and he could get some deep ball looks that this offense has been missing.
Now, it’s worth pointing out Chark only played in 11 snaps this game, as the Lions are easing him in from his injury—and the deep ball clearly wasn’t a big part of Sunday’s game plan. Still, if you were hoping he’d jump right back in and make an immediate impact—like a No. 1 receiver should—you left Sunday underwhelmed.
Stock up: John Cominsky, DL
Cominsky has quietly been one of the Lions’ most important defensive players this season. His injury coincided with the bottom falling out from the defense, and his return coincided with the opposite. He’s not flashy in pass rush (although he did notch a sack Sunday) but he’s a force to be reckoned with in the run game. Sunday’s performance from Alim McNeill complementing Cominsky’s presence was the cherry on top to shut down Saquon Barkley and the Giants offense.
Jamaal Williams, RB: RB1 and (I never thought I’d see this in Detroit) a bell cow back. He’s putting himself in very good statistical company with his performances this season and is on track for the best season for a Lions running back since Reggie Bush, if not better.
Jason Cabinda, FB:
Cabinda had 2 drops today, but he also had 2 HUGE blocks and impacts the game just by being in there. Look at how tentative the LB is on the Williams TD run because he knows Cabinda comin’. pic.twitter.com/z6gYaxKxTH
— SandmanLions (@Sandman7773) November 21, 2022
Cabinda finally returned to make his season debut Sunday, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. With the offensive line playing up and down as of late, Cabinda proved effective as an interior blocker and paved the way for many extra yards Sunday. It’s good to have him back.
Tom Kennedy, WR: I totally forgot to include Kennedy on this list following his huge reception against the Bears last week, so we’ll call this a two-for-one. He made another grab Sunday, and although it’s not a ton of volume, Kennedy is making the most of his targets.
Aidan Hutchinson, DE: Hutchinson has been playing a lot more consistently in recent weeks, possibly due to growth, return from injury, or some combination of both. Regardless, he showed Sunday he can do it all, cleaning up on the ground and in the air with a fumble recovery and his second interception of the season.
Brad Holmes, GM: Holmes’ “project” rookie safety Kerby Joseph has almost as many receptions thus far in the season (3 INTs) as the man Holmes let walk in free agency in Kenny Golladay (4 rec.).
Aaron Glenn, DC: I hate that the defensive turnaround has coincided with Aubrey Pleasant’s departure and I hesitate to attribute it to that, but Aaron Glenn has this defense chugging. His defense put together a heck of a performance Sunday against one of the league’s brightest offensive minds in Brian Daboll.
Jason Cabinda in the receiving game: Not a good day for Cabinda in the passing game. The Lions clearly wanted to get him involved, and while he didn’t miss a beat in run blocking, he dropped two passes Sunday. Luckily for the Lions it didn’t come back to bite them, but those are crucial touches that can’t be wasted both for Cabinda’s sake and the Lions’.
Michael Brockers: Brockers was active today, which is more than we can say for most recent weeks. He didn’t finish with anything to show for in his 12 snaps, continuing a very disappointing track record from a guy who used to be a premier lineman and was expected to lead this defense upon his arrival.