Third-year cornerback Jerry Jacobs has had to fight for everything he's received in the NFL. Going from undrafted rookie to NFL starter is no easy task, but talking with him this offseason he knew the next step for him was to get his hands on some footballs and up his interception numbers.
Heading into Week 6 Jacobs is tied for the NFL lead with three interceptions having recorded two Week 4 in Green Bay and getting another one last week vs. Carolina.
"That's exactly what he's done throughout his career is earn his keep," Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said of Jacobs. "And man, I'm happy for that player because of that fact. He wasn't a player that actually intercepted a lot of balls and now he's worked on that this offseason and it's starting to pay off for him.
"That's a huge deal for a defensive back to be able to go up and pluck the ball out of the air and he's done that a couple of times. So, I'm excited to continue to see his growth as far as where he is he going, as far as his interceptions are concerned."
With Emmanuel Moseley lost for the season with an ACL tear, the Lions are going to rely heavily on Jacobs and fellow veteran Cam Sutton on the outside at cornerback.
Jacobs and Sutton have a huge matchup this week with the terrific receiving duo of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin in Tampa Bay, one of only seven receiver duos in the league this season with 20-plus receptions and 250-plus yards. Jacobs has a ton of respect for both players and said their games are completely different but Glenn will have a good plan for them.
As for the interception streak, Jacobs is hoping it can reach a third straight week.
"I worked for it," he said of his improved hands. "To be able to be out there and get my hands on the ball means a lot. I'm not just doing it by myself. I've got teammates like the d-line and linebackers helping out with that.
"But it's a blessing when you can go out there and contribute and help out with your team winning. I'm just trying to keep working and keep getting better every week and keep helping us win."
Whenever a quarterback gets compared to Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in any aspect of their game it's about as high a compliment as one can get.
Buccaneers pass game coordinator and inside linebackers coach Larry Foote put Jared Goff in the Brady/Manning conversation for one particular aspect of his game.
"I put him in the group with (Tom) Brady and (Peyton) Manning as far as the play action, they sell it," he told buccaneers.com this week. "They do a good job selling it and as a linebacker that can be tricky because it looks the same."
Goff has been one of the best play-action quarterbacks in the NFL for years now, but said he's had to work hard to develop that aspect of his game.
"In high school and college, I did almost exclusively shotgun drop back," Goff said this week. "Coming to the NFL and learning play action I had to learn how to turn your back to the defense, they are going to move around and be in a different place when you probably turn your head around, so having an idea what they are going to be in pre-snap, what coverage they are going to be in. When you turn you head around are you confirming that or understanding you're wrong and finding out what it is really quickly."
Goff said he's really focused and disciplined on being good at the play-action part of his game and is always striving to make it matter. He and the running backs are constantly working to make it look like the run each and every time they fake it. When done right it pulls the defenders up and opens up lanes to get the ball behind them, and Goff is one of the best in the business at it.
Reynolds has 16 receptions on the season for 291 yards and three touchdowns. All 16 of those receptions have gone for a first down and 10 have been for 20-plus yards. He's averaging 18.2 yards per reception and is tied for the team lead in touchdown grabs. He's been Detroit's big-play receiver through the first five weeks of the season.
"He's played really good ball for a long time, even going back to L.A," Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson said of his veteran receiver. "Obviously, Jared (Goff) has a rapport with him. They're very comfortable together.
"I love how smart he is. As a play-caller we can move him to any spot on the field and he won't blink an eye. And so, we try to take advantage of all his skills and utilize those, but the fact that he can handle being anywhere at any moment, it's really invaluable to that room because some guys, they really – we try to just limit them to one spot, maybe two spots, he can do it all."
Reynolds doesn't get enough credit for how big of a role he's played in Detroit's 4-1 start.