Justin Rogers’ Lions grades: Plenty of praise for offense, failing marks all around on ‘D’

Detroit News

Detroit — Justin Rogers of The Detroit News grades the Lions’ performance following the team’s 48-45 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Quarterbacks

Jared Goff wasn’t perfect, but given what he was working with, down his top two receivers as well as dual-threat running back D’Andre Swift, it was a pretty impressive showing from Detroit’s signal-caller. After working through some early struggles with his makeshift arsenal, he went on to complete 26 of his 39 throws for 378 yards and four touchdowns.

On the downside, Goff threw a brutal interception to open the second half, a turnover that was returned 40 yards for a touchdown. That hurts even more given the one-score differential. Goff also nearly threw an interception earlier in the contest, putting it directly into the hands of an underneath defender he missed working through his progressions. Grade: B+

Running backs

Without Swift, Detroit’s backfield continued to operate at a high level. Jamaal Williams followed up his two-touchdown performance from last week with another pair of trips into the end zone. The second came at the end of a personal-best 51-yard run, while his 108 total rushing yards were the second most of his career.

The only bad thing you could say about Williams’ day was he dropped a pair of passes during a single possession, but the Lions still managed to score a touchdown on the drive.

Craig Reynolds and Justin Jackson did well in complementary roles, with Reynolds adding a 21-yard carry and a 12-yard reception, while Jackson hauled in a short touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Grade: A

Wide receivers/tight ends

After struggling to make a dent as a pass catcher the first three games, T.J. Hockenson exploded for a career-high 179 yards and two touchdowns, setting the franchise’s single-game receiving record for the tight end position.

Additionally, Josh Reynolds had a second consecutive productive game, hauling in seven balls for 81 yards and a touchdown, while Tom Kennedy came up from the practice squad and chipped in three grabs for 54 yards, including a key fourth-down conversion in the fourth quarter.

Quintez Cephus had less of an impact, although one of his two receptions came on a successful fake punt. Meanwhile, Kalif Raymond added three grabs for 38 yards but also lost a fumble, which Seattle turned into a touchdown. Grade: B+

Offensive line

The linemen had some issues with holding, but there were times they were asked to block for an inordinate amount of time as Detroit’s backup receiving corps occasionally struggled to get separation.

Otherwise, it was an impressive showing for a front that’s still starting two backups. The Lions averaged a hearty 5.8 yards on the ground and Goff was sacked just once and hit three times, despite dropping back to pass 39 times. Grade: A-

Defensive line

Zero sacks, just two quarterback hits and problems setting the edge against an opponent that ran for 235 yards. It’s all unacceptable for a unit that should be producing at a much higher level, given the investment made into it. Grade: F

Linebackers

From the start of the contest, the Lions linebackers were an issue as Alex Anzalone got beat to the perimeter twice by his coverage assignment on a game-opening scoring drive.

Malcolm Rodriguez flashed, leading the team with 11 tackles, including one behind the line after he blew up an attempted screen pass. But he was inconsistent with his assignments, including being out of position on quarterback Geno Smith’s first-quarter touchdown run.

Speaking of being out of position, Chris Board gave away the edge on Rashaad Penny’s long touchdown run late in the fourth quarter, which essentially squashed any hope of a comeback. Grade: F

Secondary

In an anticipated matchup, DK Metcalf got the best of Jeff Okudah a handful of times, including a 54-yard catch-and-run to the 2-yard line, all part of a 149-yard day for the supersized receiver.

Tyler Lockett also had a strong day for the Seahawks, hauling in six grabs for 91 yards and getting the best of Amani Oruwariye for a 34-yarder in the second half when the Lions were counting on the cornerback after sending eight on a blitz.

Rookie safety Kerby Joseph also struggled in his debut as a starter, giving up a touchdown in man coverage on the opening drive and getting his signals crossed with Oruwariye that led to a coverage bust on a later TD. Grade: F

Special teams

The Lions’ special teams kept them in the game early, with Rodriguez forcing a fumble that the Lions recovered while covering a punt. And punter Jack Fox successfully converted a fake for his third time in four tries, delivering a good ball to Cephus to keep the drive afloat.

But kicker Dominik Eberle, making his Lions debut, had a day to forget. Despite nailing a 49-yard field goal, he missed two extra points and sent a kickoff out of bounds, giving Seattle the ball at the 40-yard line when the defense was already struggling. Grade: C-

Coaches

Obviously, the defense let the Lions down in spectacular fashion and coordinator Aaron Glenn deserves any and all the criticism coming his way, given his unit was wholly unprepared to stop one of the league’s least-potent offenses.

But we cannot ignore the masterful job offensive coordinator Ben Johnson did, orchestrating a game plan that produced 520 yards and 45 points while missing the offense’s three best weapons.

In terms of clock management and general decision-making, there are no real qualms. The Lions did well to milk every last second off the clock, scoring a touchdown on the final play of the first half. Grade: C-

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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