Detroit Lions News: Amani Oruwariye deserves a bigger piece of pie

Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports
Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports /

Second-year cornerback Amani Oruwariye continues to be the Detroit Lions’ most reliable option at his position.

The Detroit Lions secondary continued to struggle particularly late in Sunday’s contest with the Washington Football Team, but the second-year corner Amani Oruwariye continues to separate himself from the herd of rostered cornerbacks.

Lions defensive coordinator Cory Undlin recently mentioned that he should have opted to play more man-to-man coverage down the stretch as quarterback Alex Smith started to pick Detroit’s zone coverage apart in the second half of the game.  Washington had been down 21 points, which allowed for the Detroit Lions secondary to relax in their zone coverage, allowing for an abundance of yardage against the secondary but keeping everything in front of them rather than being beat for a big play over the top.

We see this type of philosophy all across the league when teams rush out to a large lead or late in ball games.  Here’s one of the differences, though, usually when a team creates a three-score lead, their offense is confident enough to march down the field after an opponent’s score.  But that wasn’t the case Sunday regarding the Detroit Lions offense.

More from Detroit Jock City

Far too often, we see offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell fall into this conservative trap, predictably running the ball on first and second downs for limited gains leaving for a third and long situation.  In turn, the conservative offense allowed Washington back into the football game.

On Washington’s final drive of the football game Desmond Trufant who struggled all game long, made a play on fourth down and was flagged for pass interference; it was an atrocious call.  The call gave Washington new life rather than sealing a victory for Detroit.  A few plays later, Trufant was again flagged for holding, also giving Smith another opportunity to tie the game later.  If not for Matthew Stafford marching the offense into Matt Prater‘s field goal range, overtime was looking like a real possibility, and that wasn’t a road we’d like to go down seeing how well Washington moved the football in the fourth quarter.

One bright spot in the Detroit Lions secondary had been Oruwariye.  Amani was targeted five times yielding three catches totaling a mere 36 yards.  It was a performance to be proud of, and also one that should keep the emerging corner on the football field.

Head coach Matt Patricia opted to start rookie Jeff Okudah and veteran Desmond Trufant (both struggling) a week ago, leaving the team’s best corner to come off the bench.  It seemed like a foolish decision at the time, and quite frankly still does.

Cam Sims made two catches with Oruwariye in coverage, both clutch for first downs but only totaled 30 yards.  The other grab was by Isaiah Wright for six yards.

Oruwariye posted a 70.5 rating according to Pro Football Focus (PFF) in Week Ten, the best of all the starting corners. Mike Ford posted a 79.1 rating but only played four snaps. Trufant had been shadowing Terry McLaurin, Washington’s top receiver, and posted an awful 42.3 mark.  Trufant was targeted eight times in coverage and allowed six completions, five of which went for a first down, totaling 90 yards.  Also, don’t forget about those two flags late, albeit one was an awful call.

Okudah recorded a terrible 44.5 grade and allowed three catches on three targets, all three for first downs, totaling 63 yards.

Rather than having Trufant shadow the opponent’s top pass-catcher Undlin and Patricia should consider using Oruwariye to see if he fares any better; he’s earned himself a look.  Okudah’s overall grade in 2020 has settled at an uninspiring 40.1, with Trufant coming in at 41.7; both simply awful.

Next. D’Andre Swift looks great as a three-down back. dark

On the season, Oruwariye has yielded a catch rate of 47.7%, allowing 326 yards on 21 grabs while breaking up five passes.  His overall grade of 56 won’t jump out at you, but he has yet to allow a receiver to earn more than 60 yards in a single game, and he’s only given up 50-plus yards twice this season. Oh, and he’s yet to allow a touchdown.