Feast Or Famine: Matthew Stafford Shines Under Monday Night Lights

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A Look At Who Feasted And Who Struggled Against The Packers In Week Nine.


Lions That Feasted In Lambeau

Matthew Stafford looked the best he has all season on Monday night against the Green Bay Packers. He was making good decisions with the ball and was on target all night. The Lions quarterback fit the ball into tight windows, a couple only he could make because of his elite arm strength. What may be an ill-advised throw for most, turns into big plays for the Lions.

This tweet was in reference to a throw Matthew made in the 1st half, where he hit a wide receiver in the flat that a Packer defensive back read the play quickly and tried to jump the route. But the ball was by the defender before he could fully get his hands up, and the play ended up being a 1st down for Detroit.

On both of his touchdowns, he had incredible ball placement. Matthew has displayed better accuracy in the medium-deep passing game and it is showing up huge for Detroit. Stafford shined in this one and finished the game with no turnovers, only getting sacked once, and earned a 132.4 quarterback rating on Monday Night Football.

Marvin Jones had one of his best games this season, and doing in against man coverage, something he struggled with in his career. Admittedly, I have been a critic of his ability to get separation versus man. However, he showed tonight that he has the ball skills and body control to create big play opportunities, even against tight man coverage.

Jones hauled in seven of his eleven targets for 107 yards and two touchdowns. Both of his touchdowns were tightly contested balls in the corner of the end zone and he was doing so against one of the top coverage defensive backs this season.

Golden Tate is the Lions other receiver that excelled this week. While Tate did not score, he brought in seven of his nine targets for 113 yards. With team-mate Marvin Jones succeeding in the middle to deep parts of the field, it really opened up the underneath passing game for Golden.

The receiver has become well know for his ability to make defenders miss in open field and this game had plenty more of that for Tate. He was able to take advantage of the Packers beat up and inexperienced defense, generating yards after the catch and 1st downs for the Detroit offense.

The combination of Staffords’, Jones’, Tates’ top end play worked out very well for Detroit offense, as they did not punt once in this game. That has not happened for the Lions in over 45 years.

Lions In Famine

Ameer Abdullah is still struggling to find enough room to operate in this offense. The poor run blocking certainly is not his fault, but it is his responsibility to hold onto the football. He lost the football twice in this game, one being on the Packers 1-yard line. Fortunately Detroit recovered the ball, but plays like that can decide the game if things go the other way.

However, I do think he did a good job creating room when there was so little to work with. But, you would like to see him keep it inside more and bounce it outside less. The slow zone runs to the outside have usually resulted in negative yardage and made 2nd and 3rd downs less manageable.

Tahir Whitehead had another tough game in coverage. While admittadly he had some early success against the run, it quickly dwindled as the began to target the middle of the field to exploit Whitehead’s struggles in zone coverage.

Early in the 4th, there was a play that helped bring the Packers back in the game. It was largely due to bad positioning in zone coverage by Whitehead. Tahir moves away from his assignment to help double a player outside, leaving Randall Cobb to have an easy completion on the shallow crossing route. Whitehead is too far away to even make the tackle and the play results in a 46-yard completion.

Ziggy Ansah looked really stiff in this game. Twice he did show some straight line speed when he got a clear path to the quarterback. However, Packers quarterback Brett Hundley would extend plays with his legs and Ansah did look like he had the short area quickness to keep up with him.

He had a hard time setting the edge against the run and did not make a big impact in the Packers running game. Ansah’s health looks like it could play a big roll in his production going forward.

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