Dan Campbell gets D for decision making in Detroit Lions 24-14 loss to Chicago Bears

Detroit Free Press

CHICAGO — Free Press sports writer Dave Birkett grades the Detroit Lions in their 24-14 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday at Soldier Field.

Quarterback

Jared Goff continues to put up respectable passing numbers, but he was doomed by turnovers and inaccuracies Sunday for the fourth straight week. Goff was credited with two lost fumbles, and while neither was his fault, he had a third fumble he recovered and nearly threw an interception when he forced a pass to a covered receiver on the opening drive. The bigger issue Sunday was a mix of errant throws and poor decisions. I thought Goff left the pocket too early on his third-and-goal scramble on the Lions’ second possession, and he missed a wide-open Kalif Raymond later in the game on what should have been a touchdown. Goff made a nice play to avoid a sack and find Amon-Ra St. Brown on a third-and-11 one play later, but his biggest mistake was a poor throw to St. Brown on the late fourth-and-1 that sealed the Lions’ fourth straight loss. Grade: C-minus

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Running backs

Jamaal Williams (11 carries, 66 yards) was the Lions’ best offensive player Sunday. He did not have a gain longer than 11 yards, but he ran with power and was steady moving the chains early. D’Andre Swift (eight carries, 16 yards) had a quiet day rushing, but was an effective decoy. He was in the backfield for a play-action fake that sucked up Chicago’s linebackers when Goff hit tight end T.J. Hockenson with a 23-yard pop pass over the middle. Swift needs to be better in pass protection, though. He allowed one sack to Khalil Mack — give the Bears credit for scheming Mack a one-on-one rush on that play — and another to Roquan Smith, when he whiffed on a block on his former Georgia teammate in the fourth quarter. Grade: C-plus

Receivers/tight ends

Defenses do not fear the Lions’ passing game outside of Hockenson, and the Bears did what they could to limit the Pro Bowl tight end’s touches Sunday. Hockenson finished with four catches for 42 yards and had several issues blocking. Hockenson allowed two tackles for loss Sunday, one to Robert Quinn on second-and-goal at the 5 and another to Trevis Gipson in the second quarter. Quintez Cephus has been the Lions’ best receiver this season. He did a good job uncovering from his defensive back for a third-down conversion Sunday and finished with a career-high 83 yards on four catches. Kalif Raymond caught two touchdown passes, and Amon-Ra St. Brown made a nice sliding catch on a third down conversion. Grade: C-minus

Offensive line

The Lions’ usually-solid offensive line had its worst game of the season Sunday. Frank Ragnow was late getting to Alec Ogletree on a block on the opening drive, when Williams was stopped for a 1-yard loss, then prematurely snapped the ball for a fumble when Goff was walking to the line to make a check. Evan Brown, who finished the game at center after Ragnow suffered a toe injury, was late snapping the ball (on a play that Sewell was flagged for a false start.) Rookie Penei Sewell had the toughest day up front. He allowed a pressure to Quinn early in the second half, was victimized on Quinn’s strip-sack of Goff and allowed a fourth-quarter sack to Gipson on an inside move. Grade: C-minus

Defensive line

The Bears had their way running the football against the Lions most of Sunday, and much of the damage early came against the right side of the Lions’ defensive line. Charles Harris got overpowered on Chicago’s fourth-and-1 conversion on the first series, and Austin Bryant was smothered on David Montgomery’s first touchdown run. Montgomery had 126 yards on the ground and the Bears scored three rushing touchdowns, winning in the trenches in short-yardage situations. Harris did have a nice pass rush midway through the third quarter, when he pulled off a nice spin move on Germain Ifedi to force an incompletion, and he beat pulling tight end Cole Kmet for a strip sack on Justin Fields early in the fourth quarter. Alim McNeill and Michael Brockers had two of the Lions’ five TFLs. Grade: D

Linebackers

When a team allows for 188 yards rushing, as the Lions did Sunday, that’s a breakdown of the entire defense. Alex Anzalone tied for the team lead with six tackles and had one quarterback hit on a pass rush, but he also got shoved into the end zone on Montgomery’s second touchdown. Jalen Reeves-Maybin tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage that Amani Oruwariye intercepted. Rookie Derrick Barnes, who split time with Reeves-Maybin at the second inside linebacker spot, made four tackles but was short on impact plays. Grade: C

Defensive backs

The Bobby Price experiment has been rough on the Lions’ short-handed secondary. Price got beat for a slew of big plays Sunday: a 21-yard pass to Darnell Mooney on the opening drive, a 28-yard pass to Allen Robinson later in the game, a 32-yard pass to Mooney in the third quarter and a 64-yarder to Mooney on a double move. Jerry Jacobs played most of the second half over Price, but the Bears were largely in run mode by then. Daryl Worley, a new addition to the Lions’ four-man safety rotation, let Fields slip out of a sack just before halftime, while Dean Marlowe had a nice blitz to force a third-down incompletion. Will Harris (five tackles) couldn’t beat Fields to the corner when the quarterback scrambled for a first down on third-and-4. Outside of P Grade: C-minus

Special teams

The Lions may be 0-4, but they have the best punter in the NFL. Jack Fox dropped two of his three punts inside the 20 and netted a healthy 53.3 yards on his kicks for the day. The Lions did have one breakdown on kick coverage, though, when Khalil Herbert brough a kick 33 yards out of the end zone on his only return of the game. Raymond gave the Lions a spark with his 22-yard punt return in the fourth quarter, but Josh Woods was carelessly offsides on Chicago’s final punt. Grade: B-minus

Coaching

I generally like Dan Campbell’s aggressive approach on fourth downs, but I thought he erred Sunday when he went for a fourth-and-goal at the 5 in the second quarter. The Lions trailed 14-0 at the time and should have settled for a field goal, in a spot to convert, against one of the NFL’s worst offensive teams. Campbell was premature in calling a timeout on a third-and-4 with 50 seconds left in the first half, too. The Lions had three timeouts at the time and were in good position to score had they let the clock run and converted the third down. When their third-and-9 attempt (after a penalty) came up short, they left too much time on the clock. A bigger issue was the fourth-and-1 Campbell elected to go for in the fourth quarter. Trying to convert in that situation was the right move, but the Lions were too rushed on a key play and should have huddled to settle things down. Defensively, Aaron Glenn and Aubrey Pleasant don’t have a ton of options at cornerback, but they can’t leave Price on some of the islands he’s been on when he’s given up big plays. Grade: D

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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