Safety Kerby Joseph was absolutely outstanding in a 15-9 win over the Green Bay Packers in a much anticipated divisional matchup. Heading into the week, the Lions had only claimed one win to their name, with a 36-27 victory over the Washington Commanders in Week 2. However, for their rival, quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers were entering after losing four straight games (New York Giants, New York Jets, Commanders, Buffalo Bills).
Joseph showed his true potential, recording 10 tackles, three passes defended and two interceptions against the back-to-back MVP of the league in Rodgers. Along with his standout statistics, Joseph was nominated as Rookie of the Week; a list that contains running back Kenneth Walker (Seattle Seahawks), tight end Cade Otton (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), cornerback “Sauce” Gardner (Jets), running back Dameon Pierce (Houston Texans) and running back Tyler Allgeier (Atlanta Falcons).
For this article, I rewatched each drive and play in order to truly watch and evaluate Joseph’s performance. I highlight his key strengths and identify a few of his best plays and moments from the huge win over the weekend.
- Ball Hawk and Defensive Playmaker
- Good Instincts
- Length and Range
- Speed and Athleticism
Play: 3rd Quarter, 12:05 (4th and 11) — Pass Swat
Joseph begins the play lined up at the line of scrimmage (L.O.S), acting as if he was going to blitz on the play. As Rodgers snaps the ball, Joseph exits out of the box quickly and accelerates in order to play coverage against receiver Samori Toure (#83). Toure runs a go route down the center of the field, and has a couple steps on his corner matchup; however, Joseph uses his speed and athleticism to recover from his tough position on the L.O.S in order to make a play on the ball and be a disruption.
Along with Joseph’s evident pace and athletic ability, he showed excellent football IQ recognizing the time and down of the play. Rodgers threw the ball a solid 45 yards through the air, and instead of intercepting the football (which although tough, was possible), Joseph decided to just bat the ball to the outside in a position where no Green Bay receiver could make a catch. This smart decision allowed the Lions struggling offense to earn better field position, helping his team.
Play: 3rd Quarter, 9:23 (2nd and 10) — 2nd Interception
Joseph is set as one of the safeties in a two-high look. The call is “Cover 2 Man”, meaning that the defense is in man coverage, and Joseph finds himself in the vicinity of tight end Robert Tonyan (#85). Joseph perfectly times the pass, undercuts Tonyan’s route, intercepting the football. This play highlighted Joseph’s spectacular instincts, which are evident throughout his tape and his length and ranginess as a defensive back. Joseph’s combination of speed and length puts him in a position to make plays on the football and be a disruption in the defensive backfield.