Justin Rogers’ Lions grades: From defense to decisions, Detroit fails miserably

Detroit News

Detroit — Justin Rogers grades the Detroit Lions’ performance in their 44-6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Quarterback

Jared Goff opened the game with a crisp 18-yard pass to tight end T.J. Hockenson, showing a willingness to work the ball downfield, and by the half, the quarterback was 14-for-17 with one of those three completions an ugly drop.

Goff’s biggest flaw in this game was eating too many sacks. Some of that was trying to do too much, and other times it was lacking awareness of the pressure and the need to throw away the ball.

One time he did throw it away, it was on fourth down, but unlike the last time he made that mistake, he insisted this was a physical error, not a mental one. Grade: D

Running backs

With Jamaal Williams sidelined by a thigh injury, the Lions tried to lean more heavily on D’Andre Swift, but the dynamic dual-threat finished with 51 yards on 17 touches. On the handful of times he was able to get into space, he wasn’t able to make a defender miss. Worse yet, he coughed up a fumble, which would have hurt more if the game wasn’t already out of reach.

Rookie Jermar Jefferson stepped into his first action of the season and was relatively quiet until he broke through the line for an 8-yard touchdown romp midway through the fourth quarter to help the Lions avoid a shutout.

Godwin Igwebuike actually did more with his limited opportunities, gaining 18 yards on three carries and adding 40 more as a pass-catcher. Grade: F

Wide receivers/tight ends

Hockenson, as he frequently does, set the pace for Detroit’s pass-catchers. Starting with the game-opening grab down the seam, he ended up catching 10 balls for 89 yards. On the flip side, he committed another false-start penalty.

For the receivers, rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown did some good things, hauling in three balls, including a hard-fought first down and a 34-yarder to kickstart a drive that ultimately stalled in Eagles’ territory. He had another long gain into the red zone wiped out by an illegal-formation penalty.

Outside of those two, Detroit’s receivers were skunked. To be fair, they didn’t see many targets, but KhaDarel Hodge dropped one across the middle that helped kill a series. Grade: D

Offensive line

Matt Nelson had a rough day, getting beat for a pair of sacks, and rookie Penei Sewell can be blamed for another. In total, Goff was dropped behind the line six times and hit another seven, if you include the contact that caused an errant throw on the two-point conversion.

On the ground, the Lions didn’t muster a carry longer than nine yards, with the backs averaging 3.0 yards on their 17 attempts.  Grade: F

Defensive line

The Eagles came into the game an efficient running team, but that was largely because of quarterback Jalen Hurts’ ability to make plays with his feet. But against the Lions, they had no problem getting push up front, leading to 46 carries netting 236 yards and four touchdowns.

Grade: F

Linebackers

The linebackers weren’t much help against the run, either, and while the pass rush from the outside ‘backers generated a little bit of pressure on Hurts’ limited drop backs, they didn’t hit him once, let alone sack the quarterback.  Grade: F

Secondary

Tight end Dallas Goedert presented some issues for Detroit in the back end, with the linebackers, safeties and substitute nickel cornerback Will Harris sharing the blame for the six-catch, 72-yard performance on seven targets. Harris also got beat for a 16-yard grab on a crosser in the red zone that set up Philadelphia’s first touchdown.

The Eagles didn’t really test the Lions on the outside as Hurts finished with 103 yards on 14 attempts.  Grade: C-

Special teams

For the first time since his first kick in a Lions uniform, Austin Seibert missed a field goal, sending a 47-yard effort wide left in the opening quarter. Punter Jack Fox was solid, not spectacular, outside of an early boot, which pinned the Eagles at the 4-yard line to start their first possession.

Detroit’s return game is starting to look a little more dynamic as the season progresses. Igwebuike had a 41-yard kickoff return and Kalif Raymond brought the lone punt he fielded back 11 yards. Grade: C+

Coaches

Dan Campbell said it for me in his postgame comments, acknowledging multiple times he was outcoached. And while he didn’t regret the decision to go for it on fourth down at the end of the first half, I question what was to be gained with 22 yards to go and 13 seconds on the clock. Yeah, those three points wouldn’t have mattered in hindsight, but being down two scores instead of three at the break has the potential to be significant most weeks.

There are other things, too, such as the illegal formation penalty, which Campbell said is something a player should learn Day One, yet it’s the second time for the Lions in three weeks. And on defense, counting the players was an issue, as the team was twice flagged for 12 players on the field.

Finally, why stick with Goff until the bitter end? He was only lifted from the game inside two minutes, after the Lions needlessly called timeout to stop the clock, prolonging the embarrassment. Down 30 or more points in the fourth quarter, there’s no excuse for having your starting QB still in the game. Grade: F

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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