Detroit Lions: Four Quick Takeaways from the win over Green Bay

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The kids on defense are all right

One of the prevailing criticisms of the Lions coaching and management staff all year has been the unwillingness to give the youngsters on defense a chance. From Devin Taylor and Kyle Van Noy being healthy scratches to the stubborn refusal to play Tahir Whitehead over the washed Stephen Tulloch on passing downs, those pointed voices had a valid point.

Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

In Green Bay, the kids got to play. And Nevin Lawson, Quandre Diggs, Gabe Wright and Whitehead all proved they deserve to play more.

Before leaving with an injury on Green Bay’s penultimate drive, Lawson was a definite upgrade over Rashean Mathis at cornerback. Rodgers picked on him frequently, and the second-year player from Utah State responded. He made some mistakes, as is to be expected. There probably should have been some holding penalties, though that would be offset by the blatant illegal picks and downfield blocking by the Green Bay wideouts. I suspect Pro Football Focus will grade him on the negative side, but that doesn’t accurately surmise how well he played.

Wright provided real juice early up front, getting a TFL and quickly whipping Packers center Corey LInsley on a couple of pass plays to throw off Rodgers and the play timing. As with Lawson, he had some negative plays too, but his youthful promise shined. Martin Mayhew, who took a major risk in trading the 2016 3rd round pick to draft him, should feel a little better about himself today.

The biggest and best decision was benching safety James Ihedigbo in favor of Isa Abdul Quddus. IAQ turned in a great game, quick to diagnose and react and he often did so with force. I didn’t see every play but I have zero missed tackles for the special teams specialist. He played with confident competence, something we just haven’t seen much of from the man he replaced this year.

There is a lesson here for Coach Caldwell: keep playing the youngsters. You’ve got nothing more to lose.

Next: The Wild Special Teams Ride