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Impressive win by the Lions. I say that because of my newfound respect for the Bears’ defense. With several bad teams quitting on their head coach in recent weeks, the Bears are really showing up on defense the past few weeks. They haven’t quit. Sadly, the defense doesn’t have much of an offense to help with time of possession and field position. I say all that, but the Bears even played solidly on offense in this game as well. Jordan Howard runs successfully against anybody and Matt Barkley didn’t turn the ball over.
The Lions ran tough behind Dwayne Washington, which gave them a 34–26 minutes time of possession edge. The Lions, once again, did just enough to win. Eight wins in their last nine games. Four of the eight wins by three points or less and one win a six-pointer in OT. The Lions are either a resilient, brilliant team…or incredibly lucky. I can only keep saying ‘lucky’ for so long.
The Lions will be made or not in the next two weeks. Two road games at two of the best teams in the NFC…at the Giants and at the Cowboys. If Detroit wins this week, and Dallas loses to Tampa…then Week 16 is a showdown for the #1 seed…Lions at Cowboys.
I’m going to predict the Lions lose in the NY cold Week 15. Then lose to a superior Dallas team Week 16. Giving a window for the Green Bay Packers, if they win their next two, to force a Green Bay at Detroit Week 17 showdown for the playoffs or bust. The Lions really could lose three in a row, and fall right out of the playoffs and people would mock them…but they’re playing three of the best teams in football ahead – NYG-DAL-GB.
— It wasn’t fantasy-sexy, but this was a step forward by Dwayne Washington (16-64-0, 1-10-0/2 targets). I’ll address your ‘where’s the magic at?’ question too. First, what happened in this game…
With Theo Riddick out, Washington started and played 61% of the snaps and took a 70/30% share of the carries between him and Zach Zenner (7-36-0). Coming off an injury last game, Washington looked healthy and the Lions went with him right away.
What he did well/what was encouraging on the field…there were two things that caught my eye with Washington here:
(1) He ran tough. I’ve said this all along, and that’s why I think he’s different than most RBs of his looks/style. I would describe him as a Cordarrelle Patterson looking body and height with the same breakaway running ability…more WR-looking than anything. However, he is as physical a runner as David Johnson or Marshawn Lynch. He seeks out contact to lower his head into, which maybe isn’t the smartest thing. I just thought of it while typing – he runs the ball the way you wish Latavius Murray did. All the size (and height) and speed and skills as a receiver, but Murray is upright and gangly as a runner. Murray is not much of a take the contact and keep rolling…he spends a lot of effort trying to avoid contact. Whereas Washington wants to punish you when you get close. He’s a lot tougher than he looks.
(2) Washington had two targets in this game and they are ‘a tell’, I believe. A ‘tell’ that the Lions are starting to figure things out with Washington – that they’re thinking of creative ways to use Washington’s gifts (the former WR that he is).
Washington’s first target was him lined up as a WR/flanker. He ran a slant to the inside in the red zone. He caught the pass, fell down to grab the throw and then got up and shoved his way for a few extra yards. If he hadn’t fallen, he had a chance at a TD run. His second pass was designed for him flaring out of the backfield from within 10 yards of the end zone. Stafford fired it to him at his ankles and DW couldn’t bring it in…a pass on the money is probably a TD.
Bit by bit Washington is starting to show ‘signs’.
Why no magic yet?
You’d think with 16 carries, and 5–10 carries in many games this year, that Washington would have popped something by now since I’ve painted him as a Pegasus-like entity. I can’t answer that question well. I too am miffed…waiting…wanting. I will say that I often see Washington take carries off tackle and turn inside rather than go outside (when outside looks open to me), and it frustrates me. He goes inside all the time…but he wasn’t in the preseason. I wonder if the team is pushing him/forcing him/cajoling him into not trying to be a hero and just follow the lanes/blocking? Whatever it is, I think he’s missed opportunity for big runs a number of times this year. He was getting them in the preseason. He’s had a few ‘almost’ moments, but no home run play yet.
He’s the best running back prospect, from an athletic and design standpoint, from the 2016 NFL Draft. Mark my words. Whether he gets a chance to prove that over the next one to three seasons in Detroit, we’ll see.
I’ll get more excited about Washington if I hear Theo Riddick is out for Week 15 or done for the season.
— TE Daniel Brown (6-42-0/6 targets) looks terrific – like a real tight end already…just converting to the position this season, and being cut (by BAL) and going to another team. He looks like Zach Miller right now…only quicker/faster/sleeker.
I wasn’t sure Brown could matter in 2016 with Matt Barkley…or that the Bears would utilize him. Credit to the Bears – he has become their main TE. 66% of the snaps, the most of any Bears TE this week…again.
— Can I just mention that Cameron Meredith (6-72-1/8 targets) is great? He is a better DeAndre Hopkins. Better hands. Better athlete. That’s not a knock on Hopkins. He’s a quality receiver as well.
All that said…you can’t use Meredith with confidence for fantasy right now because of ‘Barkley’. Also note – Alshon Jefferycomes back Week 15.
— Last week, I said the most impressive thing I saw on tape was the Chicago Bears’ defense. It may be true again this week. What a fired-up, active, aggressive group. They played great against the Lions. Matt Stafford had just 223 yards, 1 TD and 2 picks. They sacked him three times. Akiem Hicks (6 tackles, 1.0 sack, 1 TFL, 1 PD) looks like the most unstoppable force DT up the middle in the league…out of nowhere.
You can’t use the Bears DST with confidence against Rodgers-Cousins the next two weeks, but you better not think Rodgers-Cousins have a great matchup against this Bears group. Week 15 Rodgers goes to Chicago and it will be less than 10 degrees. I would not shocked if Rodgers had a mild dud of a fantasy performance Week 15.