DET-NO Grades: Golden Tate shines in Lions’ quick-pass offense

The highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Lions' 35-27 win over the Saints on MNF.

| 2 years ago
(Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

(Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

DET-NO Grades: Golden Tate shines in Lions’ quick-pass offense

Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Detroit Lions’ 35-27 win over the New Orleans Saints:

New Orleans Saints

– Despite being caught in the middle of a disappointing season, Drew Brees (+4.8) has had an impressive second half of the year so far. That continued against the Lions, where he was almost good enough to bring them back from the brink. He looked good throwing downfield , going four-for-seven for 106 yards, including the touchdown throw to Brandin Cooks.

– Speaking of Cooks (+3.7), the Saints WR had his highest-graded game of the year against the Lions, pulling in 10 receptions for 124 yards and a touchdown. His matchup with Darius Slay (+2.0) was particularly interesting, with both having their moments. In the end, he has seven receptions in Slay’s coverage, but his biggest play came against Nevin Lawson on the touchdown throw by Brees.

– As had been the theme since he started seeing snaps at left guard, rookie Andrus Peat (-2.6) struggled again. On the field for 31 snaps, he allowed a quarterback hurry, but his biggest struggles were in the run game. Drafted as their right tackle of the future, it doesn’t look like a full time move to guard would suit him.

Top performers:

QB Drew Brees +4.8
WR Brandin Cooks +3.7
RT Zach Strief +2.0
C Max Unger +1.7
HB Tim Hightower +1.1


Detroit Lions

– Efficiency was the name of the game for Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (+2.5), who made very few mistakes as the Lions cruised to a big halftime lead. He didn’t attempt a single pass beyond 10 yards, but finished the game with a positive grade on plays where he was under pressure, and completed a whopping 88 percent of his passes.

– With Calvin Johnson (-0.5) almost a non-factor, it was up to Golden Tate (+2.0) to pick up the slack, and he did just that. This was the perfect type of game for the Lions to get the ball in his hands on quick passes and let him do the rest, and he finished the evening having caught all six passes thrown his way for 45 yards and two touchdowns, with 41 of his 45 yards coming after the catch.

– Two players stood out as having good days in the defensive backfield, and it’s good news for the future of the defense that it was young stars Darius Slay (+2.0) and Quandre Diggs (+2.6). Slay wasn’t flawless, giving up eight receptions for 94 yards, but he did have two pass breakups, including one in the end zone late in the fourth quarter. Rookie Diggs was targeted nine times on Monday night, giving up just three receptions for 12 yards.

Top performers:

LT Riley Reiff +3.0
CB Quandre Diggs +2.6
QB Matthew Stafford +2.5
CB Darius Slay +2.0
WR Golden Tate +2.0

| Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst

Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.

  • Scott

    Another head scratching grade on Matthew Stafford by Pro Football Focus, what’s new?. No matter what he does it seems it’s never quite enough here as he plays nearly the perfect game you’d want out of qb without throwing anything near an interception, hits guys in stride and most importantly makes all the plays in the red zone going 5 for 5. You know stuff like Tom Brady does every week and yet were being told that the opposing quarterback basically was twice as good in this game, haha. Wow you can’t make this stuff up. Did the guy who grades stafford this year lose his girlfriend to him or something? Stafford has posted nearly a 94 quarterback rating this season and has did it with the league’s worst running game and taking some of the most vicious hits all year and all while playing against the hardest schedule of defenses that any quarterback has faced this year per football outsiders. Yet hes been graded like one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL here at pff. Do NFL teams actually pay for this service and believe this stuff? Oh well I guess this means next year he can be your comeback player of in the year. This has become too funny.

    • Mike

      Only thing I can think in this one was the weight they give for down field passes. I totally agree, I was watching this game thinking it was his best of his career.

      • Izach

        They do give more credit to down field throws rather than smart decisions, ability to make the throw is worth more in their system than the ability to find open WRs

    • Dohkay

      While I agree with the general premise that PFF has been grading him poorly, I think his grade last night was spot on. ESPN showed early in the 3rd quarter that 140 of his 165 yards at the time were on runs after the catch. Ebron and Tate in particular were YAC machines. Stafford didn’t make any mistakes (other than taking a few bad sacks IMO) but this wasn’t on par with the Philly game even though the stats may lead you to believe it.

    • Kyle Ferguson

      Huge Lions fan. Just wanna say that this was against the Saints defense, which is barley a “defense” this year. Stafford did fine but I was more impressed with Tate.

    • Richard

      I think NFL teams probably pay for all the information PFF gathers about each play and all of the players, which is quite extensive. It probably has nothing to do with the grades.

      • Izach

        100% correct PFF is great for stats, but teams stick to their own grading systems, it’s well documented that teams have differing opinions with PFF grading but they use their stats collecting as a resource so they don’t have to spend the man power to do what’s already been done.
        Grades are click bait for fans that’s about it

    • James Winslow

      a + 2.5 is real good, I don’t why people think anything below a 3.0 is a bad grade.

  • Jason

    “He didn’t attempt a single pass beyond 10 yards”
    This is flat out incorrect… I guess it wasn’t Stafford that threw the 19 yard pass (no YAC) to Megatron? Pretty sure TJ Jones 20 yard catch didn’t have YAC either, but might be wrong on that one.

    • Mike

      Yeah, I was thinking the same thing…

  • Kyle Ferguson

    Love how the Lions changed the gameplan. His good game seemed more of the system and people around, though he did do well. Guys like Tate and riddick are tailor made for a short quick strike offense. I was surprised how well Matt ran the system, he didn’t make any bad mid/deep throw decisions that make me want throw my TV off the roof

  • Zach

    Andrus Peat is busty