Justin Rogers’ Lions grades: Special teams supply lone sparkle amid heap of failure

Detroit News

Justin Rogers
| The Detroit News

Detroit — Justin Rogers grades the Detroit Lions’ performance in their 47-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers


After the Lions went 0-8 without Mathew Stafford last season, Chase Daniel was brought in to correct the team’s lack of a capable backup. But on the day the team needed him the most, after Stafford went down in the opening quarter, Daniel floundered.

Sure, he completed 13 of 18 passes, but for a paltry 86 yards. As you might imagine, those kinds of numbers didn’t result in any points. Daniel was eventually yanked for David Blough, who also struggled facing an impossible deficit. Grade: F

Running backs

D’Andre Swift actually ran the ball well with his limited touches, averaging a healthy 4.5 yards per carry on 10 tries. But nothing is more important to the position as ball security, and for the second straight week, Swift lost a fumble. That mistake, deep in Detroit territory, was quickly turned into six points by the Bucs.  Grade: F

Wide receivers/tight ends

The offense, on the whole, was bad. Maybe we’re being too hard on the receivers here, lumping them in with the overall inefficiency, but when the team fails to score a single point on offense, no one gets the right to complain. 

Danny Amendola paced the group with 37 yards, while no one else had more than 23. That’s pretty brutal in a game where the Lions had to throw the duration of the second half. Grade: F

Offensive line

Detroit was down two starters coming into the contest, and were down to their third-string center by the end of the game, but 11 quarterback hits and 4.0 sacks was far too many. The group also got hit for four penalties, including a trio of false starts by Taylor Decker. Grade: F

Defensive line

If we’re being honest, the Lions never had a shot in this one, but Everson Griffen jumping offsides on third down, negating a sack on the opening drive, was a brutal way to start a game.

Griffen did have one of Detroit’s two sacks, but the Lions didn’t get close to enough pressure on Tom Brady, who picked the Lions apart before taking a seat to start the second half. 

As for the run defense, it was also subpar, with Tampa Bay averaging 4.3 yards per carry.  Grade: F


The Lions were without their best linebacker in Jamie Collins and it showed. Forced to lean more heavily on Jahlani Tavai, the former second-round pick continued his awful sophomore campaign with a number of missed assignments and tackles. Grade: F


Duron Harmon was simply awful. Brady abused his former teammate, using his eyes to repeatedly move or hold Harmon in place while attacking the deeper parts of the field. Then, to top it off, he got assessed a roughing the passer penalty on a third down, extending a Tampa Bay drive. 

Without help over the top, the Lions lost a lot of one-on-one battles in coverage, with Rob Gronkowski beating Tracy Walker early in the game, and both Mike Evans and Antonio Brown scoring against Justin Coleman in the first half. Grade: F

Special teams

Detroit’s only points came on an impressive, 74-yard return by Jamal Agnew. He’d been close to breaking free the past month and was finally was able to house one against Tampa Bay, preventing the shutout. 

Jack Fox, meanwhile, had a busy day punting the ball, booting it eight times. His first effort was poor, blasting the ball into the end zone for a touchback, but he settled down and finished with a 42.8-yard net average, keeping him on pace for the franchise record in that department.

Agnew helped Fox out with two special teams tackles. Grade: A-


It’s easy to have some empathy for what the Lions went through in the week leading up to this game. With five coaches out due to COVID-related quarantines, they had an interim (interim) head coach in Robert Prince, as well as two first-time play-callers on offense and defense. 

But there’s no grading on a curve in the NFL and Detroit’s replacements got worked over in every regard. The team couldn’t figure out how to get off the field on defense or stay on the field on offense. Grade: F


Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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