Welcome back to the second iteration of The Lions Den! If you missed the first edition, you can find that here. We found this to be an effective way to recap the previous game and news from the week as well as looking ahead to the following week’s game. This will be the final regular season edition, but stay tuned for our off-season content which will include our first seven-round Detroit Lions mock draft!
As we enter week 17 of what has been a disappointing season for the Lions there is still reason to be intrigued. Although there hasn’t been any explicit indication that the coaching staff will give more opportunities to younger players with the season out of reach, it wouldn’t be surprising to possibly see someone like Quintez Cephus see a bigger role against Minnesota. If the team does end up losing to the Vikings and other results around the league go in their favor they could pick third. If they win and results go against them a pick near the teens could be in store. The team also has roster moves coming this offseason, but the team got a head start this week. We also will look back at the largest home loss for Detroit since 1961.
Roster Moves for Week 17
The Lions started the off-season roster changes a week early when they released safety Jayron Kearse.
The move is likely a mutually beneficial one. The move will allow him to find a potential team to join for the playoff push and will allow the Lions to get more looks at players like Tracy Walker and Will Harris. Both are players who haven’t yet lived up to their draft billing and will need to show something to warrant a roster spot next year. Kearse was far from the worst member of a terrible defensive backfield, but on a one year deal he was going to have a tough time sticking around in a new regime anyways.
Among the other notable roster moves was the movement of Alex Myres to the Practice Squad/Injured Reserve list. Myres made a name for himself on the wrong end of a Derrick Henry stiff arm a few weeks ago. The Lions have signed defensive back Josh Hawkins to replace him on the Practice Squad. Danny Shelton has been activated from the Reserve/Injured list and safety Bobby Price was signed to the active roster while defensive lineman Frank Herron was released.
Buccaneers Pillage Lions Defense for Worst Home Loss Since 1961
Tom Brady has reinvigorated a franchise that hadn’t made the playoffs since 2017. He didn’t have to work too hard for win number ten this season as the Lions were down 40-0 within the first minute of the second half. Brady threw for a full game’s stat line in the first half and got to watch his defense pitch a shutout. The Lions only score came from a Jamal Agnew punt return touchdown. It is also important to note that Matthew Stafford was injured in the first quarter and did not return.
Agnew has found himself again as a returner as this season has gone on. Between him and Jack Fox who made a Pro Bowl as an undrafted punter, the Detroit Lions special teams has been without a doubt the best unit.
Blaine Gabbert played the entirety of the second half and compiled 143 passing yards and two touchdowns in relief of Tom Brady. Rookie Ke’Shawn Vaughn rushed 15 times for 62 yards and Leonard Fournette scored the team’s only rushing touchdown. Stafford went out with an ankle injury in the first quarter and both Chase Daniel and David Blough were ineffective backing him up. They combined to go 19-28 for 135 yards and an interception.
Also important to note about this game was the absence of multiple Detroit coaches including interim head coach Darrell Bevell. Had the game been moved to Sunday all of the impacted coaches would’ve been eligible to coach. The NFL declined to move the game and thus the Lions were extremely short-handed.
Previewing the Season Finale Against the Minnesota Vikings
In the first match-up between these two teams Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison ran for a combnined 275 yards and two touchdowns to win 34-20. Dalvin Cook accounted for the bulk of that stat line, having 206 yards rushing and both touchdowns himself. The Lions porous run defense won’t have to worry about Cook on Sunday however. He will miss the game following the passing of his father James Cook.
Unfortunately for the Detroit Lions, their pass defense is just as susceptible as their run defense which should mean strong games for Adam Theilen and rookie sensation Justin Jefferson. Jefferson, who would get my vote for Offensive Rookie of the Year, led all Vikings receivers in the first game with 64 receiving yards while catching three of his four targets.
While the Lions run defense has struggled for most of the season the Vikings has of late. On Christmas Day they gave up an NFL-record six rushing touchdowns to Alvin Kamara. He very easily could’ve had seven if Taysom Hill hadn’t taken one away on the goal-line. Both teams are struggling on defense and neither benefits from a win. Will be worth watching how it plays out.
Draft Implications of Week 17 Games for the Detroit Lions
With the playoffs out of reach, the next best thing for a team is a high draft pick. According to Tankathon, prior to any week 17 games, Detroit is slated to pick seventh overall. The highest they could reach would be number three. To get there they obviously need to lose to Minnesota and then have wins by Atlanta, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and Houston. Those results would push Detroit to the third pick and give them an abundance of options in the draft. The Lions have too many holes to pick for position in the first round. They truly need to pick best player available and start filling the roster with more talent.
Off-Season Plans at Full Press Lions
This has been an exciting season for us at Full Press Lions. Joining the Full Press Coverage team and being able to provide coverage for the Detroit Lions has been a pleasure. Although there won’t be any post-season coverage from us this year, we hope to have some exciting and engaging off-season coverage for you. If there is any coverage that you’d like to see please engage with us on social media or comment below. We will hopefully do a couple mock drafts throughout the off-season and may include features on players that would make sense for the Detroit Lions given their draft position. Thanks for checking in with this week’s Lions Den and we can’t wait to engage with you again soon!