Detroit Lions Week 1 PFF Grades: Linebackers Stand Out


If you are not aware by now, Pro Football Focus is a website dedicated to grading NFL players’ individual performances based on in depth review of every snap of every game. If you’re interested, here is a look at their grading system.

Let’s take a quick look at what PFF had to say about the Detroit Lions and their home opener against the New York Giants, shall we? [Recap]


Best Grades:

Matthew Stafford: +6.1

Calvin Johnson: +2.7

Larry Warford: +1.5

Brandon Pettigrew: +0.8

Eric Ebron: +0.7

Worst Grades:

Dominic Raiola: -2.6

Jeremy Ross: -1.3

Joique Bell: -0.6

Rob Sims: -0.5

Golden Tate: -0.5


Stafford’s +6.1 grade is the second best among all quarterbacks, topped only by Matt Ryan’s 400-plus yard, three touchdown performance.

It doesn’t surprise me that two starters on the offensive line walked away with two of the lowest grades on offense. There was absolutely no push for the run game last night, and although Stafford was not sacked at all, he was under quite a bit of pressure, especially from the left side of the line.

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  • What does surprise me is Golden Tate’s -0.5 grade. He received a positive grade in the pass game, but was also given a -2.0 for his run blocking grade.

    I immediately thought back to the play where Tate was asked to cut block Jason Pierre-Paul on a Joique Bell carry (if I remember correctly). Tate did his job by taking out Pierre-Paul’s legs, but JPP still managed to spring off the ground like it was a trampoline and make the play anyway. Personally, I thought Tate played well last night.

    Brandon Pettigrew and Eric Ebron combined for just one catch against the Giants, but managed to receive positive grades for their run blocking (+1.1 each).


    Best Grades:

    Glover Quin: +2.7

    DeAndre Levy: +2.5

    Rashean Mathis: +2.1

    Ndamukong Suh: +2.0

    Ezekial Ansah: +1.8

    Worst Grades:

    Jason Jones: -1.3

    George Johnson: -1.2

    Nevin Lawson: -1.0

    Bill Bentley: -0.9

    Darryl Tapp: -0.4


    Suh’s presence was felt against the Giants’ rushing offense last night rather than the passing game, which needless to say, is pretty uncommon for him. Here is an excerpt from PFF’s “ReFocused” article on Monday night’s game.

    "Breakdown: A bright start and a bright finish laid the foundations for a solid start to the season for Suh. Disruptive early against John Jerry and J.D. Walton, Suh also got the penetration that blew up the Giants’ final fourth down play that ultimately allowed the Lions to run out the clock and finish the win.Signature Stat: Suh’s +2.4 run defense grade is the third highest of his career to date bettered only by two home performances against Green Bay (2010, 2013)."

    The most consistant positional group for the Lions may have been the linebacker position. All three starters (DeAndre Levy, Stephen  Tulloch, Tahir Whitehead) received positive grades. Levy with a +2.5, Tulloch with a +1.4, and Whitehead with a +1.1 overall grade.

    Due to the Giants having three or more receivers on the field at the same time for nearly the entire game, the Lions decided to shy away from their base defense and opted to keep a nickel corner out on the field for most of the game, leaving Whitehead on the field just eight times on defense. He still managed to receive a solid grade after blocking a punt that traveled just 16 yards.

    What shocked me the most were the grades given to George Johnson and Nevin Lawson. I thought both did well given their opportunities. Lawson held star receiver Victor Cruz in check who had just two receptions for 24 yards. He gave up a 20 yard catch later in the game, but to his credit it was good coverage, and next time he just needs to turn his head.

    I thought George Johnson did a fantastic job of pressuring Eli Manning last night, but he was only credited with one sack and one pressure from PFF.