Detroit Lions Week 15 report card: Lions escape from New York with last-minute win
By Zach Payne
Run defense: 5/5 stars
Another strong week for the Lions’ run defense. The Jets’ lead rusher Zonovan Knight had just 23 yards on 13 attempts, and the Jets as a team only managed 2.3 yards per rush.
Isaiah Buggs and Alim McNeill have been playing excellently on the interior. The edge defenders are staying disciplined on the outside. The linebackers and defensive backs simply have to clean up any mess that remains. The synchronization of the defensive front has been really impressive against the run.
Pass defense: 3/5 stars
A very hit-or-miss day for the Lions’ pass defense. The Jets would go three or four drives doing absolutely nothing, then they would hit on a deep shot. That’s part of the brand with Zach Wilson at quarterback, but it also led to a lot of frustration defensively. The Jets were throwing it deep every drive and the Lions still had their struggles.
The secondary is still very young, and those young players don’t really know what to do against a quarterback who can operate out of structure. Any time Wilson got out of the pocket he was able to find someone open down the field.
Best defensive player: DE Aidan Hutchinson
The entire defensive line had a very strong day, but Hutchinson’s work against the run really stood out. He was setting the edge very effectively, and his hand usage was exceptional.
In the pass-rushing department, Hutchinson was shifted inside and rushed from the 3-technique spot more often. While he wasn’t as effective there as a result, he still generated a few pressures that resulted in sacks for teammates.
Worst defensive player: S Kerby Joseph
Going back to the point of Wilson creating out of structure and giving the Lions’ young secondary fits, Joseph had a really tough day. On the Jets’ second-quarter touchdown, for example, Joseph got caught drifting and Wilson delivered a dart across the field.
For as good as Joseph has been at creating turnovers, he’s still sometimes struggling to read the play as it develops. That’s a skill which will continue to be develop as he gets more snaps/experience, but on Sunday it resulted in multiple big plays for the Jets.