Detroit Lions stock watch: Improved defense could make Aaron Glenn a HC candidate again

Detroit Free Press

Free Press sports writer Dave Birkett breaks down the Detroit Lions’ 34-23 win over the Minnesota Vikings and looks at players and coaches who helped and hurt their stock Sunday at Ford Field.

Stock up

QB Jared Goff: Goff has silenced many of his critics with strong play over the last six weeks to lead the Lions into playoff contention. Goff completed 27 of 39 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns Sunday and is completing 67.2% of his passes with 10 touchdowns and one interception since the start of September. He’s looking more and more like he’ll be the Lions quarterback in 2023 and perhaps beyond.

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DC Aaron Glenn: Glenn’s job seemed to be in jeopardy when the Lions got off to a slow start, but the defense has done a 180 since the bye. The Lions scaled back their defensive approach to account for their youth on that side of the ball, but have slowly ramped things back up. They shut down Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (15 carries, 23 yards) on Sunday and forced a takeaway for the sixth straight game. Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson has generated plenty of head coaching buzz, but Glenn might end up getting some looks this offseason, too, after he was a hot candidate last winter.

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DL Isaiah Buggs: Buggs has quietly been one of the Lions’ most important offseason additions. Signed over the summer to add beef to the middle of the defensive line, Buggs has been an important cog in the Lions’ run defense all season. On Sunday, he went a step further, forcing a fumble by Cook on a designed halfback pass and logging three quarterback hits.

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WR/PR Kalif Raymond: The Lions have a number of capable receivers. DJ Chark had a big day Sunday with six catches for 94 yards, Amon-Ra St. Brown is a top-10 pass catcher in the league, and Jameson Williams scored his first touchdown. But Raymond had an important third-and-12 conversion on the Lions’ third quarter touchdown drive and doubles as a dangerous return man. His 35-yard punt return Sunday set up another Lions score.

Stock down

CB Amani Oruwariye: Oruwariye had a rough go-round against the Vikings in September, when he was flagged six times for defensive penalties. The fourth-year cornerback lost his job in October and has played sparingly since, but was pressed into action Sunday with Jeff Okudah battling an illness and Will Harris out with a hip injury. Oruwariye did not have many passes thrown his way, but he didn’t do anything to help his stock with free agency on the horizon. On one pass to Justin Jefferson, he got turned around and gave up a 42-yard gain.

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Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah: The Lions and Vikings have made two trades in the past eight months, and on Sunday the Lions appeared to be on the better end of both. The Lions traded up with the Vikings to take Williams with the No. 12 pick, and sent tight end T.J. Hockenson to Minnesota at the November trade deadline for a swap of draft picks. Williams scored a touchdown (and dropped a pass) in limited action, while Hockenson had six catches for 77 yards but dropped a would-be third down conversion that brought loud cheers from the Ford Field fans.

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

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