What a way to kickoff a Sunday.
The Detroit Lions completely dismantled the Jacksonville Jaguars in a game that never felt close. It was a fairly stress-free game for those of you rooting for the boys in Honolulu blue, and the team looked impressive in every facet. The offense was cooking, the defense was formidable, and the special teams unit made up for any offensive lulls. For as long as we have been tested by a rebuild, this was an example of the progress being made by the Lions.
What takeaways can be had from this victory?
On the right side of a beatdown
Rest your hearts, Lions fans. After many close games, heartbreakers, and blow-out losses, the Lions found themselves on the positive side of a beatdown. It was a complete effort from Detroit, mustering a whopping 40 points and holding the Jaguars offense to a mere 14 points.
This marked the second time the Lions scored over 40 points in a game this season, though the previous instance came in a losing effort against the Seattle Seahawks, having given up 48 points. The Lions have not been in this situation many times in recent memory. Their most recent blowout was (arguably) against the New York Giants in Week 10 of this year. After that, you would have to go back to a 2021 Week 15 victory over the Arizona Cardinals or a 2020 Week 6 victory over these same Jaguars to find a similar complete game. It’s been awhile since Detroit had such a lead, either:
This 26-point win is the #Lions‘ highest margin of victory since their 31-0 win in a meaningless Week 17 beatdown of the Packers in 2018.
— Pride of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) December 4, 2022
The Jaguars were by no means a great team entering this game, but to beat them down in such a fashion is a stellar showing for Detroit. You can clearly see what the Lions are building down the road, and wow, it looks closer than we expected.
St. Brown and Chark steal the spotlight
The excitement surrounding Jameson Williams’ debut was incredible, but it became clear pre-game that the hype would only amount to a pitch count for the young receiver. That came to fruition, with Williams only garnering a single target. His role will grow as he returns to full speed. However, the Lions offense was not lacking for talent on Sunday.
Enough has been said about Amon-Ra St. Brown at this point—it isn’t even fair to call him a blossoming star. Over 100 yards and a pair of touchdowns is just another day at the office for St. Brown, who took a freight train of a hit in this game and missed just a single play. We’ll keep an eye on his status, but he continues to be a crucial part of this offense.
What does need to be noted is that DJ Chark came to play. After being limited in weeks past, Chark looked like the prized free agent Detroit coveted this offseason. Chark put up 98 yards on five catches, both season-highs. He was shut out of the end zone on a day where Detroit lived in it, but don’t despair. Chark was making tough grabs and key plays—as a blocker, too—throughout the game.
Due to his injuries, it might be difficult for Chark to put together a season to truly justify his contract—remember, he will count against the cap next season due to some voided years. That being said, if the Lions can get a healthy Chark down the stretch, perhaps with the playoffs on the line, that could be worth it for Detroit. Pair him with St. Brown and Williams, and watch out.
Where was this James Houston in preseason?
Through two career games, James Houston has three sacks, and each of them have been impressive. The burst and bend he has demonstrated have not only blown myself away, but NFL linemen as well. The question I have is this: what changed for Houston?
Houston put together a phenomenal final college season with 16.5 sacks at Jackson State. However, as an undersized edge rusher, there was some doubt from scouts about his future as a pass rusher. Perhaps the Lions felt the same way because he saw looks as a traditional linebacker in training camp and didn’t shine. In the preseason, he saw more looks as a pass-rushing outside linebacker, but he didn’t stand out and—justifiably—missed the initial roster.
His time on the practice squad must have done him well, for this James Houston looks nothing like the one we saw this summer. The progress from Houston is a hat tip to the coaching staff for finding a role for him and to Brad Holmes for another promising rookie from the 2022 draft class. Given his production so far, Houston will likely see his role grow even more.
Get him on the field.
A near-perfect day from Jared Goff
With 41 passing attempts, you’re bound to miss a few throws. That being said, it was essentially a perfect game for Jared Goff. Goff’s quarterback rating of 115.9 was his third-highest of the season, after his performance against the Washington Commanders (121.7) and Seattle Seahawks (121.5). Yet in this particular game, Goff looked in command the entire way.
The offense scored on each of their competitive drives, and Goff was a key reason why. Goff was sharp on his usual short-to-intermediate routes, and the Lions threatened the Jaguars downfield a few times to boot. Perhaps more importantly, Goff avoided any backbreaking mistakes like fumbles or interceptions. You can’t ask for much more than that.
There will be some debate about whether this was a good game from the Lions offense or a bad game from the Jaguars defense (the answer is both), but that shouldn’t dismiss the fact that Goff has put together a much-improved season from his first in Detroit. It will be an interesting offseason to see if that is enough for the Lions to move forward with him as their starter in 2023.
Jinx aside, Michael Badgley has impressed
Are the kicking woes over?
Michael Badgley has settled in as the Lions kicker, and this outing against the Jaguars was perhaps his best outing. A perfect four-for-four, three of which came from beyond 40 yards, brought Badgley’s total with the Lions to 13-for-14, with his lone miss coming on an attempt that was hit with the jinx to end all jinxes. That’s a mulligan if I’ve ever seen one.
His range remains untested—his longest on the year is 53 yards—but at this point, there’s no reason to say Badgley isn’t “the guy” for Detroit. He has delivered when asked, stabilizing a position in turmoil since Matt Prater’s departure. Can Badgley shake the label of journeyman kicker and find a long-term home in Detroit? So far, so good.
D’Andre Swift looked like his prime self
D’Andre Swift has been labelled as healthy the previous few weeks, but his play on the field did not back that up. The electric burst and cuts were mostly missing, and it looked like Justin Jackson might usurp his spot next to Jamaal Williams. Against the Jaguars, Swift was at the top of his game. Is he back?
Swift carried the ball 14 times for 62 yards and a score while also adding four catches for 49 yards. Not only was Swift running with more authority and physicality than previous weeks, but he demonstrated far better vision. Swift had been eager to dance around with minimal results, but against the Jaguars, he was turning it upfield to far greater success. Perhaps it was a side effect of being hurt, but Swift never looked like he trusted himself or his blocking to make those much-needed plays in past games.
Swift can be a special player, and games like these demonstrate that. I hope we get more down the stretch.