When the NFL schedule comes out annually, most teams look quickly to see where their bye week falls. This year, the Detroit Lions had to be frustrated.
With a Week 5 bye, the team got one of the earlier options available. Most squads prefer the bye later in the year to rest tired bodies, but with how the season has started for Detroit, they will likely come away very pleased by their bye when all is said and done.
Fighting injuries after some hard-hitting games against the best of the NFL, the Lions have survived with a winning record, which is more than many teams can say about the early slate. Now, they turn their attention to getting a breather.
Which folks will be happiest with the bye right where it is? Here’s a look at who will benefit the most from this season’s week away from the gridiron.
Contrary to some popular opinion, Stafford is the clear winner here with Detroit’s early bye. The quarterback has looked like he simply needs time to shake off whatever ails him about his hurting hip. While the early bye will mean Stafford will have more pressure on him to stay healthy longer in 2019, getting Stafford rest immediately after the injury and a hard-hitting game is very significant.
There’s always a chance of Stafford wearing down late in the season, but with the early bye, the hope is the hip issue does not continue to be a problem that persists. That would be huge for his overall health, since Stafford will always play through whatever pain he encounters.
After a scary fall, Hockenson remains in concussion protocol and will likely remain there for a while. The team will love being able to buy their top tight end some time following the tough fall he took against the Kansas City Chiefs which thankfully looked worse than it ended up being. Detroit can ill afford to lose Hockenson for any long length of time given what he has meant to both the running game and the passing game, and now, the Lions can keep the hope he will return soon.
If Detroit had to play a game this week, Hockenson might not be suiting up at all. Getting him some time to come through the concussion and get some additional observation to prove he is totally ready will only prove to be a good thing in the end.
Hamstring injuries are likely the biggest frustration to football players, and especially cornerbacks who rely on leg drive and speed to make cuts and keep up with top-line wideouts. Slay had this problem and it cost him a game the Lions nearly won without him. Now, with extra rest under his belt, the Lions could get Slay back for the two key NFC North tilts they need to win. Given his status as a Pro Bowler, that could be very significant.
Daniels, a defensive lineman, has fought foot injuries before. Thankfully for Detroit, the one he sustained in Philadelphia was on the opposite foot as the injury which cost him in 2018. Daniels was said to be day to day last week even in spite of the injury, but couldn’t get right in time to play. Now, though, he might be ready to come back ahead of a major revenge game in Green Bay. He will be motivated to stick it to the Packers and will not only have a week to rest the foot but to lather up and get mad as well. An engaged, healthy Daniels could be huge for Detroit’s line.
Like Slay, Diggs is fighting a hamstring issue which cost him game time against Kansas City. Slay was not able to get his hamstring right in a week, but fortunately, Diggs doesn’t have to worry about that. He can take his time healing up for a key divisional game in which the Lions need their secondary to be completely ready to go. Detroit missed Diggs in a big way in the game, and the hope is the bye can get them over the hump in terms of his health for October.
When speaking about the bye, Matt Patricia admitted the chance to do some self-scouting is his biggest goal. That could be huge for the Lions, as the coach has also admitted that bad football is a hallmark of plenty teams in September. Getting all the mistakes corrected and getting a watchful eye on the team is significant for the Lions. Seeing what Patricia can come up with in terms of fixes will be interesting. Detroit played well out of the bye in 2018, and they will be looking for a similar performance this season.