Lions-Giants Final Thoughts: Spotlight on a secondary with changes in personnel and physical makeup; Golden Tate’s return to Ford Field; Random Thoughts on Saquon Barkley’s impact, Da’Shawn Hand giving D-Line a hand, run game question for the Lions, sticking with my pick and more:
Rookie safety Will Harris is a key member of the new look of the Lions’ secondary, which took another step in its sweeping transformation with the unexpected midweek trade of veteran starting safety Quandre Diggs.
That deal leaves Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay as the only full-time starter from last season currently on the roster.
Size obviously matters in how the Lions’ secondary has been rebuilt, and Harris fits that model at 6-1 and 207 pounds. Cornerback Justin Coleman is the only starter in the secondary under 6 feet tall at 5-11. Two starters last year were 5-9 – Diggs and cornerback Nevin Lawson.
Whether Harris or veteran Tavon Wilson moves into Diggs’ old position as the starting strong safety, Harris will have a substantial role in a secondary that will be in the spotlight today. That’s the case in any sport when there’s a change.
“On game day, I just stay in tune with my role, whatever that role may be,” Harris said. “My job is to be ready for the moment. If that’s early in the game, special teams, anywhere on defense, my job is to be ready for that moment.
“Whatever happens, I’ll be in position. I’ll have the support of my teammates. No matter who’s in the game, we roll as one defensive unit.”
Showtime: Giants wide receiver Golden Tate told reporters covering the team earlier this week “I don’t want this to be about me” in his first game against the Lions since he was traded midway through last season.
Neither do his former Lions teammates, and not because of any ill feeling toward a former teammate. They don’t want to get beat by anybody, Tate included. He was a highly productive, highly respected player in his four-plus seasons with the Lions.
Tate was also was a showman, and still is. He jogged backward into the end zone to cap a 64-yard catch and run for a touchdown in a loss to the Patriots in a Thursday night game two weeks ago.
“We’re planning on definitely not seeing anything spectacular,” safety Tavon Wilson said good naturedly.
Barkley, center of attention: My primary thought for today’s game is that how Giants running back Saquon Barkley goes, so goes the game.
Barkley had 18 carries for 72 yards in last week’s loss to the Cardinals. It was his first game back after missing three games with an ankle injury. He had a 20-yard run that helped set up the Giants’ first TD, a seven-yard TD run in the fourth quarter and a 32-yard run that was called back on a penalty.
If Barkley is rolling up carries and yards on the ground, it’ll take pressure off rookie quarterback Daniel Jones and make for a long, difficult day for the Lions.
Turnovers -- Jones 6, Lions 1: The Lions have had only one turnover (A late Matthew Stafford INT last week) in the last two games, while Daniel Jones has had six turnovers in the last two games – four interceptions, two lost fumbles.
On the run: With Kerryon Johnson on injured reserve, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will be tested to the limit to manufacture a running game. There’s a lack of experience with the Lions behind Johsnon. He has 308 of the 500 yards gained by running backs currently on the roster, 92 of the 130 carries and the only two rushing TDs – both on one-yard runs.
Helping Hand: Da’Shawn Hand adds athleticism to size (297 pounds) in the defensive line’s rotation. He can play end or move inside, with impact at both spots. That’s been missed.
Sticking with my pick: This is a game the Lions should win, but they haven’t been able to close out games. The Chiefs and Packers scored on their last possession to win games, and the Vikings scored the clinching TD in the last minute a week ago. The Giants aren’t in the same class as those three teams, but it’s a scary thought of how Barkley can take over a game.
Prediction: Lions 24, Giants 23.