Since safety Glover Quin signed with the Detroit Lions as a free agent in 2013, he’s never played less than 91 percent of the team’s snaps on defense in any given year. In 2016, the veteran safety played in all 1,099 of them.
So, it was a little surprising to see Quin play in just 40 of the team’s 60 snaps on defense in Monday’s 48-17 loss to the Jets.
“It doesn’t change anything for me, I just go out and try to make plays when I have an opportunity and when I don’t have an opportunity I don’t have an opportunity,” Quin said Wednesday, when asked about the reduced snap count. “I prepare to play, prepare to do whatever my job is for the week and that’s really it. I don’t have any changes.”
Quin, 32, said he didn’t know if a reduced snap count was going to be part of the plan moving forward, but claimed he’d still be effective in whatever role he’s asked to play.
“Um, as effective, yeah, when you look at it, if you’re out there for 70 plays and you have 5 tackles and 2 pass breakups, ok,” he said.
“But if you’re out there for 40 plays and you have 4 tackles, one pass breakup, what’s more effective? So it’s really just about being out there, when you’re out there you make plays. When you’re not out there, you can’t make plays.”
Quin, who took a different approach to this offseason than he has in year’s past, recorded two tackles in those 40 defensive snaps vs. the Jets. He also left a few plays out on the field, in particular failing to get to Jets quarterback Sam Darnold on a third-down run that resulted in the first down, and tracking down Isaiah Crowell on his 62-yard touchdown run.
Quin didn’t take part in the offseason training program and OTAs this offseason to spend more time with his family. He said he feels like he’s in good shape and has plenty yet to offer.
Pro Football Focus listed Quandre Diggs with playing the slot corner (13 snaps), in the box (21) and 21 snaps at free safety, where Quin is used to roaming almost exclusively the last five seasons.
“I don’t think anybody’s a part-time player,” head coach Matt Patricia said of Quin’s reduced snap count Monday. “Everybody that’s active has to play in the game. That’s how we approach it. And I think moving forward for us, we’re always just going to try to do whatever we have to do to win. And he’s certainly part of that.”
Quin is obviously closer to end of his career than the beginning, but the 10-year vet still believes he has a lot to offer. It will be interesting to see how the Lions continue to use him in their defense moving forward.
RUN GAME WOES
After 17 weeks of football in the 2017 season, the Lions finished last in the NFL in average rushing yards per game (76.3) and tied for last in yards per attempt (3.4).
After Week 1 of the 2018 season, the Lions again find themselves at the bottom of the league’s rushing statistics. Their 39 yards on the ground Monday vs. the Jets was a league low. Their 2.6 average per attempt was more than a half yard lower than the next lowest team.
The Lions have high hopes for their running game this season after spending a lot of resources on the group this offseason. Monday’s game got out of hand in the third quarter, forcing the offense to abandon the run in an attempt to throw the football and try to get back into the contest.
No conclusions should be formed when it comes to Detroit’s running game this season after just one game, especially after a week in which no phase played well.
But still, with all the resources put into improving that part of this offense, Monday wasn’t a good start.
“Just pushing forward here, I would say for us, we’re still trying to be as much of a balanced offense as we can be,” Patricia said of the run game Thursday. “We’re just trying to improve both the run and the passing game. I would say both areas need improvement. And like I had mentioned before, we need to coach them and play them better and execute them better.
“We certainly want to be balanced and have the ability to do both so that whatever the situation in the game is, we have the option to use either the run or the pass as part of our offensive package. So, certainly (we) have a lot of work to do there.”
The Lions will face a number of explosive weapons on the 49ers' offense Sunday in San Francisco. Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin has elite speed. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is 7-1 as a starting quarterback. Wide receiver Pierre Garcon is seventh among active players with 606 catches.
Tight end George Kittle is quickly ascending that list for the 49ers.
He was second among all rookie tight ends last year with 515 yards on 43 receptions. Kittle opened the 2018 season last week with five catches for 90 yards in a loss to Minnesota.
A fifth-round pick by the 49ers last year, Kittle ran the 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds and had a broad jump of 11 feet at the Combine. He’s 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds.
“Outstanding tight end,” Patricia said of Kittle. “He’s really come into his own. I think he’s a reliable player for them in their offensive scheme. He’s certainly one that demands a lot of respect and a lot of attention.
“Really a clutch player for them, a guy that’s performed very well on third down in the red area. He’s a big guy and he has the ability to move vertically into the defense.”
The Lions have struggled in past years defending the tight end position, but this is a new defensive coaching staff with new schemes. Jets tight ends caught four passes for 34 yards last week.
In a league filled with a growing number of talented and dangerous players at the position, Kittle is quickly emerging as one of the better ones around.
The Lions will have to know where he is at all times Sunday.