Malcolm Rodriguez was the Lions training camp standout and Hard Knocks’ darling. In week 1 Malcolm Rodriguez lived up to that hype putting up one of, if not the best defensive performance for the Lions last week. Let’s break down what he did to put together such a great performance.
What He Did Well For The Lions
Rodriguez played like the best player on the Lions’ defense last week by showing exactly what he showed in training camp and preseason. Rodriguez put up 6 total tackles and was all over the field, making play after play on a very good Eagles team. Rodriguez had the highest PFF grade of all Lions defensemen, even with Jeff Okudah’s great performance against Devonta Smith.
Rodriguez made many impressive plays, including hip tossing All-Pro center Jason Kelce and getting a really difficult tackle on Boston Scott, trying to punch the ball out during the tackle. Perhaps the most important thing he did on the field is something the overall defense really struggled with; he tackled extremely well. Most of the time when he had the chance to make a tackle he made it, which is hard to say for other players on this defense. He may be a rookie, but he was out there making veteran plays.
Watch Malcolm Rodriguez on this play. Getting blocked by Jason Kelce, the best center in the league and a guy 70 pounds heavier than him, and tosses him like it’s nothing. The guy is just something else. @malcolmlrod @CowboyFB @Lions #okpreps pic.twitter.com/Or7iUBw3xj — Chris DiMaria (@chris_DiMaria) September 11, 2022
What He Can Improve Upon For The Lions
Dan Campbell said in his press conference today that the biggest thing Rodriguez can improve on is his work on special teams. He struggled to get downfield to make plays on special teams, but that’s something that will come naturally with time, and he should improve upon it. The only other thing he could’ve done better was in zone coverage, he let up a few too many underneath passes that turned into big yardage. If he can improve on these two things, he can be an elite linebacker for this team.