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Week 1 Game Recap: Detroit Lions 27, Arizona Cardinals 27

What you need to know

Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions blew a 24 to 6 lead to tie the Cardinals in a road game at Arizona in week one. Matthew Stafford played well and was protected well for the most part and looked sharp despite a couple of missed opportunities by his receivers. Kerryon Johnson worked in a tandem with C.J. Anderson but was limited in the passing game. Kenny Golladay was the leading wide receiver, but benefitted from blown coverage and failed to elevate his situation, while Danny Amendola worked in the short-range creating separation and easy throws for Stafford while Marvin Jones was limited in workload but effective. T.J. Hockenson had a terrific debut, breaking big plays in the passing game and looked smooth as a receiver.

Arizona Cardinals

Arizona got off to a sluggish start against Detroit and a huge deficit. However, Kyler Murray and the offense woke up just in time for a comeback and ultimately a tie game through overtime. Murray did not use his mobility as much as projected (three rushes), but his arm talent showed through with many tight window throws. The Cardinals utilized a number of four-receiver formations sans tight end and all four regular receivers (Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk, KeeSean Johnson, Damiere Byrd) caught at least four passes.

Detroit Lions

QB Matthew Stafford, 88 offensive snaps, Pass: 27 - 45 - 385 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 22 - 0
Matthew Stafford had a solid week one performance against the Cardinals building a big lead before the Cardinals forced a tie. Stafford’s touchdowns were two easy throws to Danny Amendola and Kenny Golladay on schemes that created broken coverages, then a good scramble drill with T.J. Hockenson in the red zone. Stafford was not perfect, as he was stripped from the blind side sack. He found easy success on targets to Hockenson, Marvin Jones, and Danny Amendola, while he struggled to connected with Kenny Golladay, including a throw that could have sealed a Detroit win that Golladay did not break on. Stafford has the opportunity for another big game in a could be shoot out in week two at home against the Chargers.

RB Kerryon Johnson, 50 offensive snaps, Rush: 16 - 49 - 0, Rec: 2 - 13 - 0 (2 targets)
Kerryon Johnson drew the start for the Detroit Lions at Arizona in week one, but only had 16 carries while C.J. Anderson had 11. Johnson ran well early, getting interior rushing space and churning yardage after contract. However, Anderson ate into his workload throughout the game and Johnson had limited passing game work. He had only two receptions, including one late on a drive attempting to kill the clock, which was a disappointment after his heavy preseason usage. Johnson’s workshare with Anderson will cap his fantasy production and the allocation of touches is important to watch in future weeks including his week two game against the Chargers.

RB C.J. Anderson, 26 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 35 - 0
C.J. Anderson worked as the lesser half of a committee with Kerryon Johnson at the Arizona Cardinals in week one. Anderson ran with power but failed to move the offense with his carries, and failed to convert two third and short carries. He was not targeted in the passing game and operates more as a cap on Johnson’s upside than a standalone value outside of a Johnson injury.

WR Danny Amendola, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 104 - 1 (13 targets)
Danny Amendola had a strong debut with the Detroit Lions in week one against the Arizona Cardinals. He was targeted frequently and involved early in the offense. He played both the slot and outside, getting easy separation on an out route while playing the perimeter. He was shifty in his movements in the short area. Amendola did score a long touchdown on a blown defensive coverage but added a critical mistake on the final drive of overtime where he did not get out of bounds, forcing the clock to run out and essentially guaranteeing a tie. Amendola has intrigue in a potentially high scoring game in week two against the Chargers.

WR Marvin Jones, 71 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 4 - 0, Rec: 4 - 56 - 0 (4 targets)
Marvin Jones was the third most targeted wide receiver for the Detroit Lions but had an effective day on low volume. He was sporadically involved in the offense early, with a slot reception and a screen catch in regulation before two nice targets in overtime. He caught two passes in overtime, a good dig route where he gained good separation and a downfield sliding catch. Jones consistently gets more separation from Kenny Golladay and helps create easier opportunities for Matthew Stafford. He will face the Chargers in week two.

WR Kenny Golladay, 86 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 42 - 1 (9 targets)
Kenny Golladay had a strong statistical game against the Cardinals in week one. He had two good catches early including a dig across the middle and a crossing route and was the beneficiary of a blown coverage that resulted in a wide-open red zone touchdown. Yet, Golladay continued a trend from last season of failing to separate from defenders, including a deep perimeter pass and a target in the end zone where he had good positioning but failed to catch a high point pass on what could have been a game-winning touchdown. He also appeared to be targeted late in the fourth quarter on a back-shoulder throw that he did not break back for, that would have sealed a Detroit win. Detroit found easy completions while targeting Danny Amendola, T.J. Hockenson, and Marvin Jones, while Golladay’s targets are a higher degree of difficulty. Golladay will look to improve in week two against the Chargers.

TE T.J. Hockenson, 64 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 131 - 1 (9 targets)
T.J. Hockenson had a terrific debut against the Arizona Cardinals in week one. He was smooth as a pass catcher and consistently turned catches upfield for yards after the catch. He showed good separation ability on a play where he was motioned across the formation and ran an over route, creating separation for a big play. Hockenson also ran a good scramble drill in the end zone with Matthew Stafford, to work away from defenders in coverage for a touchdown.

Arizona Cardinals

QB Kyler Murray, 89 offensive snaps, Pass: 29 - 54 - 308 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - 13 - 0
Murray’s NFL debut was a tale of two games for the first overall pick. Arizona’s offense showed no dazzling play design or creativity early and certainly no use of Murray’s mobility to unlock the Cardinals offense. Murray’s biggest mistake also came early in the game as the rookie floated a pass down the sideline when the play appeared over and time to throw the ball out of bounds and live to fight another down. Detroit promptly picked off the pass and build a strong lead. However, Murray and the Arizona offense came alive in comeback mode and Murray minimized mistakes from that point forward. Murray’s arm talent unlocks tight windows and areas of the field few quarterbacks will trust. Murray’s highlight throws included a deep seam pass to Larry Fitzgerald, again to Fitzgerald on a deep corner route, and a seam touchdown to David Johnson. Murray’s mobility was not a huge factor in the game as he preferred to deliver from the pocket and extend plays when needed, not the typical pattern from an athletically gifted rookie signal caller. Murray will be tested to a much higher degree in Baltimore in Week 2.

RB David Johnson, 77 offensive snaps, Rush: 18 - 82 - 0, Rec: 6 - 55 - 1 (7 targets)
Johnson was the absolutely workhorse against Detroit, rarely leaving the field for a breather. Johnson’s receiving upside was unlocked compared to 2018 as he saw a healthy seven targets and made a highlight touchdown catch down the seam. On the downside, Johnson had a single realistic touchdown opportunity on the ground, running out of bounds at the one-yard-line, logged a drop, and had a chunk run called back by penalty. Solid running lanes were more prevalent than last season with the new Kliff Kingsbury offense and the threat of Kyler Murray alongside Johnson in the backfield. Johnson faces the stingy Baltimore defense in Week 2, which held the hapless Dolphins to 10 carries for 12 yards in Week 1.

WR Larry Fitzgerald, 85 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 113 - 1 (13 targets)
Fitzgerald, like the entire Arizona offense, got off to a slow start against Detroit, not logging a catch until the second quarter. Fitzgerald found his timing with rookie quarterback Kyler Murray as the game progressed, however, especially downfield. Fitzgerald made one of the wow plays of the game in overtime as the pair connected on a deep corner route, an encore to a diving seam catch Fitzgerald corralled earlier in the game. Fitzgerald came wide open on a goal line rollout for a straight-forward score to add to his strong performance. Fitzgerald led the team in targets despite Arizona deploying a strong number of four-receiver sets.

WR KeeSean Johnson, 68 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 46 - 0 (10 targets)
Johnson’s NFL debut was a positive one on the uptick Arizona offense. Johnson got off to a slow start, like much of the Arizona weapons, but progressed well. Johnson was primarily an intermediate route runner within the Cardinals offensive design with deep in-cut and out-breaking routes his forte this week, including a quality catch away from his body. Johnson’s biggest missed opportunity came on a contested back shoulder target. The Cardinals run a heavy majority of four-receiver sets on offense, a positive sign for Johnson’s snap count and targets without much of a tight end presence in Arizona.

WR Christian Kirk, 83 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 12 - 0, Rec: 4 - 32 - 0 (12 targets)
Kirk collected 12 targets against Detroit, a hearty 22% of the team total. However, Kirk and Kyler Murray were not on the same page for many of the pair’s possible connections. Kirk was wide open on a slot fade route, which Murray missed high, one of his most glaring misses of the game. They did connection on a key third-down slant in overtime and a game-tying two-point conversion in the closing seconds of regulation. Kirk was buried in behind Larry Fitzgerald in production this week, but the usage and upside were present with quickly developing Kyler Murray.

WR Damiere Byrd, 78 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 42 - 0 (7 targets)
Byrd continued his offensive involvement from the preseason, collecting seven targets against Detroit in the season opener. Arizona ran a high number of four-receiver sets and Byrd collected three of his receptions between the final drive of regulation and overtime, two of which were key plays on third down. Byrd also added a red zone slant reception along the way. Byrd was a distant fourth in the pecking order of Arizona’s wide receivers, a sign for pessimism of Byrd’s big picture impact in terms of predictability, but Byrd offers the most speed to unlock Kyler Murray’s deep accuracy.