Lions film spotlight: Jeff Okudah and Ifeatu Melifonwu vs. the Bears

This week’s Detroit Lions film breakdown spotlights two defensive backs and how they performed in the Week 17 win over the Chicago Bears.

Cornerback Jeff Okudah and safety Ifeatu Melifonwu each earned the spotlight treatment, in part because both played more limited snaps. Chicago ran just 52 plays in Detroit’s 41-10 win. Okudah played 17 and Melifonwu was in for 26 (not counting plays erased by penalties).

As with past breakdowns, the methodology is pretty straightforward. I watch each play from both the broadcast angle and the All-22. When the player does his job well on a play, he earns a plus. When he fails at his task, it earns a minus. Not every play earns a mark.

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Okudah

The first drive was an eventful one for the third-year cornerback. Okudah earned plusses in coverage on Chicago’s first two passing plays, staying in lock-step man coverage. On the second rep, he worked the slot on a crossing route and denied where Bears QB Justin Fields was looking to throw.

And then came Fields running. A gadget play where the Bears pitched the ball to Fields ran right at Okudah and he got destroyed by a block. Okudah was the edge contain but he earned a minus for getting buried (sidenote: rookie LB Malcolm Rodriguez also had a very bad rep here). No. 1 did have great coverage on the eventual TD play, a miscue on a pick route that didn’t involve Okudah.

First drive: three plusses (all in coverage), one minus in run defense

He earned one more plus in coverage and one more minus in run defense in the first half. The minus came on a run to the left where he was the outside contain but got blocked away, leaving RB David Montgomery with an option to go either way.

Okudah added one more plus in coverage, erasing his mark in man coverage. He was not thrown at all game.

Final tally: Five plusses in coverage, two minuses in run defense. I did not grade his special teams reps.

Melifonwu

The second-year safety didn’t start but was in on two plays on the opening drive. Neither earned a mark, but he picked up a minus on his first rep on the second drive on the long Fields run. Melifonwu never took his eyes off his receiver even as the wideout initiated a block with him as Fields took off.

Melifonwu finished that drive very well. He earned two plusses in run defense in the red zone, notably on the third-and-goal scramble by Fields. Great positioning and field awareness from No. 26; he didn’t make the tackle but he made the tackle possible by being when and where he was supposed to be.

He picked up a plus for helping force a sack on the next drive, a play where Fields ran out of bounds behind the line. Excellent spatial awareness and eye discipline on that one. Melifonwu tacked on another plus later in run defense, besting Equanimeous St. Brown on a block to help force a tackle.

In coverage, I found three plusses and one minuses for Melifonwu in the game. He was on the hook for one completion, a zone look where he ventured too far outside to allow the completion inside. He quickly made the tackle. It’s an iffy (no pun intended) play because the throw is into a schemed hole in the zone, and he avoided a minus by making the nice tackle. He added another plus by smartly coming off his man and making a tackle right after a catch.

Melifonwu’s minus came when he was far too deep in off-man coverage on the play where Josh Paschal recorded his second sack of the game. No harm there but it’s a minus for 26.

Final tally: Seven plusses, two minuses. Excellent bounce-back game after a brutal first start in Carolina.

Story originally appeared on Lions Wire