DET-BUF grades: Detroit DEs Kerry Hyder, Anthony Zettel shine in preseason Week 4
Detroit Lions 31, Buffalo Bills 0
Here are the top-graded players and biggest storylines from the Lions’ 31-0 win over the Bills.
Quarterback grade: Jake Rudock, 47.9, Dan Orlovsky, 69.6
It’s easy to look at the box score, see three touchdown passes and a QB rating of 127.1 and assume Rudock had a fantastic night, but the reality is his accuracy was spotty and the ball seemed to flutter out of his hand at times. He completed just three of his seven attempts longer than 10 yards from the line of scrimmage, and while two of those were TD throws (one an end-zone fade route, the other off a scramble play), none of his throws would qualify as being into difficult windows. Grading aside, he did not make any gross throwing errors either, and it’s this ability to keep the ball out of harm’s way that Detroit’s likely No. 2 QB, veteran Dan Orlovsky, has not shown he possesses throughout the preseason.
Top offensive grades:
WR Jace Billingsley, 75.3
C Lemuel Jeanpierre, 74.9
RB George Winn, 70.1
QB Dan Orlovsky, 69.6
OL Joe Dahl, 68.7
WR Jace Billingsley makes strong final push for a roster spot
Billingsley was the favorite target of Rudock last night, as he snared seven of his eight targets for 80 yards and a score, with 50 of those yards coming after the catch. He has had a very productive preseason, in all catching 12 passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns, forcing a total of three missed tackles (one against the Bills) on his way to 104 yards after the catch. He may be caught in a numbers game in Detroit, but if the Lions try to stash him on the practice squad he’s shown enough through his play to make them a bit worried that another team with a bigger need at the position could look to steal him.
Jeanpierre and Dahl highlighted what was a very strong night for the Lions’ pass-blockers, as although the collective unit gave up 11 total pressures, the Detroit QBs were kept clean with no sacks or hits. If you’re still unconvinced as to 11 pressures yielded being a solid night, I suggest you keep reading to find out what happened on the other side of the ball.
Top defensive grades:
DE Kerry Hyder, 91.2
CB Adairius Barnes, 86.3
LB Antwione Williams, 82.8
LB Khaseem Greene, 82.0
DE Anthony Zettel, 81.9
Hyder, Zettel terrorize Bills QBs
Anthony Zettel’s sack, hit and three hurries equate to a monster night for just about anyone, but paled in comparison to the night of his counterpart. Kerry Hyder, who finished his third preseason in the NFL last night and is hoping to make his first NFL roster, was absolutely “Wattian” last night, as he posted four sacks, a hit, and an incredible seven hurries last night, most of them coming at the expense of one Bills tackle (more on him later). The vast majority of his rushes were pure speed moves off the edge, which shouldn’t be particularly surprising. In order to beat one player that many times, a defender likely has an unstoppable go-to move, and that was the case with Hyder’s edge rush last night.
Detroit’s linebackers also deserve some love, in particular rookie MLB Antwione Williams. He tallied a hurry off a pass-rush blitz, but did most of his damage against the run. He had a team-high five tackles with three defensive stops. After rookie-like performances in Detroit’s first two preseason games (which included three missed tackles), Williams has racked up 11 solo tackles and seven stops with no missed tackles the past two weeks.
Quarterback grade: Cardale Jones, 39.1
Jones saw the bulk of the action last night, and as both the score and his final stat line suggest, he struggled significantly. He was willing to attack downfield more than his rookie Lion counterpart, but did so with less success. On passes that traveled longer than 10 yards through the air he completed just four of 11 tosses for just 66 yards, and was inaccurate on all four of his deep shots (pass attempts of at least 20 yards). Throughout the evening he struggled to get through his progressions, too often pulling the ball down and dropping his head as soon as he read that his first read was covered.
Top offensive grades:
TE Nick O’Leary, 78.1
T Cyrus Kouandjio, 77.4
C Fernando Velasco, 76.6
WR Dezmin Lewis, 67.9
WR Jarrett Boykin, 67.9
TE Nick O’Leary shines on an otherwise bleak offense
O’Leary had an excellent night, a concept otherwise non-existent to the remainder of Buffalo’s offense. He caught six of his seven official targets for 63 yards (against five different defenders), and should have had an even bigger night. He was called for a highly debatable pass interference penalty on a reception (against Hyder, oddly enough) that saw him elude two tacklers downfield before gaining 30 yards. O’Leary doesn’t have any of the prototype measurables for his position, but its performances like last night that have to make the Bills excited about his ability to produce at the NFL.
The story of last night’s game cannot be told properly without highlighting the troubles of RT Chris Martin, who simply did not have an answer for Detroit’s edge rushers. Martin yielded three of Hyder’s sacks, as well as his QB hit, and also gave up eight hurries, all of which accumulated by Hyder and Zettel. He was also charged a holding penalty on, you guessed it, a failed pass block against Hyder.
Top defensive grades:
DI Legar Douzable, 80.7
S Robert Blanton, 80.2
LB Randell Johnson, 78.6
DI Lavar Edwards, 77.8
Manny Lawson, 77
Strong all-around games for Douzable, Blanton and Lawson
Robert Blanton was targeted just twice in coverage and did not yield a completion, but it was his play against the run that was most impressive. He notched three solo tackles and one defensive stop, and did an excellent job of coming up to the line of scrimmage in run support on Detroit’s outside zone runs. Lawson had two solo tackles and his own run stop, as well as a team-high four QB hurries. Legar Douzable topped Buffalo’s defensive grading with two hurries and two tackles of his own, and his ability to beat blockers at the line of scrimmage changed Detroit’s RBs’ points of attack throughout the game.