Overreacting to Aidan Hutchinson’s performance in his NFL debut is too easy

Credit: Detroit Free Press-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Detroit Free Press-USA TODAY Sports /

It wouldn’t have mattered if he played well or if he didn’t, overreacting to Aidan Hutchinson’s NFL debut is too easy–and shortsighted.

With the fanfare he arrived with, Aidan Hutchinson is expected to be an immediate star for the Detroit Lions. A University of Michigan product and a Plymouth, Michigan native now a Lion? The feel-good stories write themselves.

No matter what Hutchinson did in his NFL debut Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, there was going to be overreaction. If had two or three sacks, he’s the second coming of Mark Gastineau, Reggie White…choose your all-time great defensive end. If he made little or no impact, then he’s a stiff and destined to be a bust.

Alas, Hutchinson did not register a sack or a hit on Eagles’ quaterback Jalen Hurts in Week 1–but he was credited with three pressures. He finished with one tackle on 69 defensive snaps. As Lions’ defensive rookies go, Malcolm Rodriguez outdid him.

Overreaction to Aidan Hutchinson’s NFL debut is too easy

Based on his statline and general lack of impact against the Eagles, it’s fine to be disappointed in Hutchinson’s debut. And it’s easy to go way in on a criticism that extends beyond he had a rough game against one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, leaving aside it was his first meaningful NFL game.

And believe me, Hutchinson was not good against the Eagles.

John Maakaron of SI.com plucked the low-hanging fruit.

"Hutchinson, making his home debut in front of fans at Ford Field, had his aggressiveness used against him, as quarterback Jalen Hurts broke contain and rushed for 90 yards.He nearly made several impactful plays, but the talented rookie is not compensated at a high rate to “almost” make the key plays. He is compensated to make tackles, disrupt the pocket and to sack the quarterback.Game in, game out. Season after season."

Game in, game out. Season after season.

Hutchinson has played one NFL regular season game, and some are already trying to write a wide-ranging narrative. It’s not that Hutchinson should be defended for his poor performance against Philadelphia. It’s that it’s one game, his first game, and somehow he’s not allowed to make any mistakes or have any learning curve. He better be a star right away, or it’s “he’s not compensated at a high rate to “almost” make the key plays.”

Right after the game Lions head coach Dan Campbell acknowledged Hutchinson’s struggles, and he expects better right away.

"Listen here, he’ll be better next week,” said Dan Campbell. “He needed this and they all needed it. Most rookies, that’s the way it goes. You get into your first game and it’s just a little different. And look, I’ve got to watch the tape, but I know that he’ll be better next week than he was this week."

If we get well into the season and Hutchinson hasn’t honed things and he’s not making impactful plays, then some broader criticism will be warranted. But as is typical for what happens in Week 1,  overreaction is the crutch that’s being leaned on with the Lions’ top rookie in some places.

Next. Fantasy Football Week 2 Waiver Wire: Lions RB Jamaal Williams. dark