CHICAGO — Free Press sports writer Dave Birkett breaks down the Detroit Lions‘ 24-14 loss to the Chicago Bears, and looks at players who helped and hurt their stock Sunday at Soldier Field.
WR Kalif Raymond: Raymond has exceeded expectations in his first season as a Lion. Signed to be a return man, he has taken a prominent role on offense and was one of the Lions’ only playmakers Sunday. He scored two touchdowns, doubling his career total entering the game, and could have had a third when Jared Goff missed him on a pass down the seam. The Lions are light on playmakers at receiver, but Raymond has been a nice find.
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OLB Trey Flowers: Flowers catches plenty of flack for his contract and being part of the old regime, but his presence was sorely missed Sunday as the Bears ran roughshod over the Lions’ front. The Bears spent the entire opening drive attacking the right side of the Lions’ defensive line, where Charles Harris and Austin Bryant were playing as fill-ins. Flowers could return from knee and shoulder injuries this week, and the Lions desperately need him, especially with Romeo Okwara likely out for the season with a torn Achilles.
RB Jamaal Williams: Williams and D’Andre Swift continue to split time in the backfield, but it was Williams who took the lead role Sunday — and played it well. Williams finished with a team-high 66 yards rushing on 14 carries and gave the Lions offense a spark early with his physical play. If the Lions would stop falling into double-digit deficits, they might be able to use Williams for all four quarters of a game.
CB Bobby Price: The Lions are extremely shorthanded at cornerback; if they weren’t Price wouldn’t be playing. And it’s incumbent upon the coaches (and front office) to find a better solution thanthe converted safety as their No. 2 corner. On Sunday, Price gave up four passes of more than 20 yards, including a 64-yarder to Darnell Mooney when he fell victim to a double move. The Lions benched Price for Jerry Jacobs late in the game, and there’s no telling when we’ll see him again.
LT Penei Sewell: Taylor Decker remains the Lions’ best option, for now, at left tackle, and likely will play that position when he returns from injury as soon as next week. Sewell has tons of promise, but he struggled blocking a good edge rusher in Robert Quinn on Sunday. Quinn beat Sewell for a strip-sack on Goff, one of two quarterback hits he had in the game, and Sewell gave up another sack on an inside move to linebacker Trevis Gipson.
QB Jared Goff: For a quarterback who makes his living off short passes, Goff is off the mark on far too many throws. Goff had a solid statistical game Sunday, completing 24 of 38 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns. But he missed Raymond down the middle on a would-be touchdown the Lions needed early in the game, and he threw wide of Amon-Ra St. Brown on a fourth-and-1 incompletion that ended any hopes the Lions had of a comeback. If the Lions are going to turn this season around, he needs to be better in big spots.