Week 8’s Underrated Performer, Brett Hundley’s Chances, And Which Lion Needs More Playing Time.
Question One: Who Would You Say Is Not Getting Enough Attention For Their Performance On Sunday Night Football?
Going back through my game notes, I would have to say cornerback Darius Slay. While he did admittedly have a bad penalty late in the game, he was hardly the reason the Lions were in the position they were in. In contrary, he actually had a really good game.
He did not get beat once deep in this game and when the Steelers did target him deep he made a play on the ball. One deep pass nearly became a really talented interception by Slay, but lost control of it going to the ground. He also helped out a bit in run support. He had an impressive tackle on Steeler’s running back Le’Veon Bell, who had a full head of steam heading towards Slay. But the Lions cornerback went low and took Bell down.
But where he really helped the team was his ability to blanket whoever he covered. For the majority of the game, that was star receiver Antonio Brown. Slay shadowed Brown whenever he was on the outside, but pass him off when the receiver was lining up in the slot. Slay was incredibly effective at keeping Brown out of the game. However, his performance is not generating much buzz and definitely underrated for how well he played this week.
As expected, Darius Slay shadowed Antonio Brown. Covered him on 77% of routes. Brown caught 1-of-4 targets for 9 yards in Slay's coverage
— Jeff Ratcliffe (@JeffRatcliffe) October 30, 2017
Question 2: How Well Has Brett Hundley Been Playing And What Should We See From Him This Sunday?
The Packers have been, and will be in trouble, as long as Brett Hundley is at the helm of this offense. To say he has struggled in his two games this year, would be an understatement. The Packer’s backup quarterback was thrust into the starter role following a likely season-ending injury for Aaron Rodgers. He has yet to look comfortable in the offense and that lack of chemistry is evident.
Hundley faced the Saints and the Vikings in his two games so far this season. His completion percentage for each game was 48% and 54.5% respectively. He has thrown one touchdown and four interceptions so far.
I would expect more of the same from him against the Lions at Lambeau Field this weekend. Unless he takes major strides in practice this week, he will likely struggle again against Detroit. While these past few weeks have been rough for the Lions, the schedule really opens up the rest of the way. A Hundley-led Packers team should be much easier for the defense than the past couple of weeks facing the likes of Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, and Ben Roethlisberger.
Question Three: Which Lion Do You Think Deserves More Playing Time?
Before last game I would not have said this. But after seeing the growth from Jalen Reeves-Maybin in his discipline and technique last week against the Steelers, I think he has proved he is worth putting on the field more. The 4th round linebacker was originally drafted on his talents in coverage and instincts, one of his bigger criticisms was his ability against the run.
That is where he showed up the most against the Pittsburgh Steelers this past Sunday. Earlier this season and in college, Jalen would often get mauled by lineman or get lost in traffic against the run. But he is waiting for the play to come to him and more quickly reading the play in front of him. He is doing a better job at maintaining his run fills and not strictly following the ball carrier. This helped Reeves-Maybin has a very good game on his limited snaps last week and made his impact felt against the run.
Jalen Reeves-Maybin was dominant in the run game in the first half pic.twitter.com/1t38HMur6M
— PFF (@PFF) October 30, 2017
Which is why I think he has earned more playing time. His could add a new wrinkle to this Lions defense. Right now, the only true three down linebacker is fellow rookie Jarrad Davis. But if Reeves-Maybin can continue this growth, and not be the liability he was against the ground like earlier in the season, the Lions will have two. With Teryl Austin’s love for versatility in his players and running more exotic blitzes, he could really move Reeves-Maybin around to help disguise coverages and blitzes against opposing offensive lines.