CHICAGO — Free Press sportswriter Dave Birkett breaks the The Detroit Lions’ 31-30 win over the Chicago Bears and a look at the players and coaches who helped and hurt their stocks at Soldier Field on Sunday:
WR Amon-Ra St. Braun: Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson made a concerted effort to give St. Brown the ball early Sunday and it paid off. After a quiet four-game stretch (and a missing fifth) that coincided with some injury woes, St. Brown caught 10 of 11 goals for 119 yards. He carried the ball out of the backfield once and took a scoop pass to a trap out of the slot a second time to remind everyone he’s both versatile and dangerous. Personally, St. Brown also has every right to brag about his brother, Bears wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown.
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LB Julian Okwara: Okwara has had an up-and-down three seasons with the Lions but he played one of his best games on Sunday. He had two sacks, including the game clincher on Justin Fields in fourth and eighth from the Bears 32-yard line, and was disciplined in his run defense after giving up a 28-yard run to a Bears options keeper ‘ first offensive snap. The Lions need more pass rush from their front seven and Okwara looked like he could help on Sunday.
Mobile quarterbacks: Dan Campbell told the Free Press shortly after he got the job with the Lions that his ideal quarterback would be a double opponent who was dangerous with his legs and arms. Justin Fields isn’t a passer yet, but Fields has quickly become the most dangerous rushing quarterback in the NFL, and he showed with his 147-yard rushing performance on Sunday why Campbell wants some mobility in his next QB. The Lions probably don’t regret passing Fields with the seventh pick of the 2021 NFL draft, but if they’re looking for a quarterback next offseason, they’ll be eyeing someone with some Fields-like qualities.
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S Kerby Joseph: Reigning NFC Defensive Player of the Week Joseph had a tough game on Sunday. He missed an open field tackle on Fields’ 67-yard touchdown run, gave up a touchdown in pass coverage when he bit a Cole Kmet fake block, and seemed to blame on Fields’ long touchdown pass to Kmet his as he and Mike Hughes followed the same receiver for cover. Joseph has played well as a rookie since taking on Tracy Walker, but Sunday wasn’t one of his better games.
CB Mike Hughes: The Lions defense struggled collectively against planned quarterback runs Sunday, but Hughes appeared to be at fault for Fields’ long touchdown run. when he followed a pulling Kmet down the line of scrimmage and gave Fields a huge cutback lane. Hughes has played well since switching from slot to outside cornerback last month, but that blunder came at a crucial point in the game after the Lions rallied to level the score at 24. When Jerry Jacobs gets stronger on his return from a torn cruciate ligament, he could shorten Hughes’ playing time.
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WR Trinity Benson: He only saw a handful of snaps on Sunday before suffering what appeared to be a serious knee injury. The fast receiver barely saw the field in his first season with the Lions last year after being acquired in a trade at the end of training camp, and was issued an injury term this summer. When he re-signed with the Lions from the Denver Broncos practice team last week, it seemed like he was finally going to play an offensive role. Now his season could be over and the lions are looking for help for their passing game again.
Contact Dave Birkett at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.
This article initially appeared in Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions Stock Watch: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Julian Okwara shine