Detroit — Justin Rogers grades the Detroit Lions’ performance after their 34-11 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
At some level, it’s easy to feel bad for Jared Goff, at least as much as you can for a guy making $30 or so million per year on his current contract. The Lions didn’t surround him with the necessary resources to succeed after trading for him, and injuries have further decimated an inferior receiving corps, while severely hindering the offense’s strength, it’s line.
That said, Goff isn’t coming close to doing enough, either. He’s holding on to the ball too long, missing throws and generally not performing well enough as a veteran leader with an offense that was tailored around his strengths. Once again, it was another trip to check-down city against the Bengals, with 28 completions netting 202 yards, many of which came in garbage time against a prevent defense. Grade: F
Sure, there wasn’t a whole lot of breathing room for the 17 times the Lions handed the ball off their backs, but when are we going to start holding the ball carriers more accountable for their lack of production after contact this season? There wasn’t a carry longer than nine yards, as Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift combined to average 2.1 yards per carry.
Swift packed on some receiving yards and got into the end zone in the closing minutes, which should only be satisfying to fantasy football owners Grade: F
Wide receivers/tight ends
T.J. Hockenson paced the Lions with eight catches for 74 yards, but it became clear after the game he wasn’t where his quarterback expected to be on an overthrow that cost the Lions a touchdown. He was also beaten for a sack, despite drawing a holding penalty on the snap. And he also got hit with a flag for illegal formation after lining up incorrectly.
But at least we have something to write about Hockenson. Detroit’s other pass-catchers were non-existent much of the afternoon, having fewer than 50 combined yards through three quarters. And while Goff gets the blame on the stat sheet for a first-half interception, it was rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown who didn’t secure a well-placed ball, allowing the defender to rip it free as he was going to the ground. Grade: F
Rookie Penei Sewell struggled with mental and physical errors, particularly in the first half, killing a couple of drives. Yes, Goff held on to the ball too long, at times, but the blocking should still hold up longer than it did on those plays.
In the end, Goff ate just one sack and took four hits, but there was plenty of excess pressure, which was negatively complemented by minimal movement in the ground game. Overall, the unit got assessed four penalties, two on Sewell, as well as a false start on center Evan Brown ahead of a fourth-and-1 that resulted in a punt. Grade: F
The Lions mustered a couple of sacks on quarterback Joe Burrow, with young edge rushers Julian Okwara and Austin Bryant breaking through. Okwara, Trey Flowers and Alim McNeill all added hits on the quarterback.
The interior run defense was adequate, but the Lions struggled to protect the edges. And on Joe Mixon’s 40-yard touchdown reception, where he leaked uncovered out of the backfield into the flat, Lions coach Dan Campbell said it was up to the edge rusher to do a better job disrupting the route. Grade: D
It will get lost in the blowout, but this was rookie Derrick Barnes most productive game. He finished with a team-high eight tackles, blew up a screen play and also broke up a pass near the goal line. It’s important progress for a piece the Lions expect to be a big part of their future.
Jalen Reeves-Maybin, the other part of that rotation, had seven stops, but was shaky with some of his run gap fits and got beat in man coverage for the game’s first touchdown, when running back Chris Evans left the veteran defender in the dust after a stutter-step release. Grade: D
The back end of the defense lacked the necessary consistency to compete, particularly in third-down situations. Amani Oruwariye set that tone early when he gave up a 14-yard completion on a third-and-9 during the Bengals’ first touchdown drive.
On the plus side, Oruwariye registered his third interception in four games. As he explains it, he’s simply had a knack of being in the right place as the right time and making the play when the ball comes his way.
Despite the daunting challenge of defending explosive rookie Ja’Marr Chase, Jerry Jacobs was holding his own until giving up a long pass down the sideline at the end of the first half. He also got beat for a 53-yard bomb at the end of the third quarter, but seemed to be expecting help from a safety that wasn’t there. Grade: D-
Austin Seibert made his lone field-goal attempt, while Jack Fox averaged 55.5 yards per punt and punt returner Kalif Raymond flashed a little bit on three attempts, including a 14-yard effort.
What holds the grade back is Fox was a little wild, outkicking his coverage a couple of times and booting one directly into the end zone, both of which hurt his net average. Additionally, Tom Kennedy got flagged for a block in the back that pinned the Lions at their own 6-yard line to start one drive. Grade: B-
After the game, Campbell put this loss on himself and we’re going to let him take that bullet. The Lions lacked the fight that’s defined them through the first five games and looked unprepared, on both sides of the ball.
Down three touchdowns late in the contest, Campbell should have pulled Goff, who was struggling, and the team’s use of timeouts inside the two-minute warning, despite trailing by 23, felt unnecessary. Grade: F