After weeks and weeks of hiding their report card from their parents, the Detroit Lions will be able to display Monday night’s grades proudly on their refrigerator. The Lions dismantled the Packers in nearly every way in their most complete performance of the year. Here’s a breakdown of how they graded out.
It’s hard to imagine Matthew Stafford having a more-perfect performance against the Packers. Typically a good Stafford performance includes a slow start and a big finish, or a down quarter in the third stanza. But Stafford was on point from start to finish, for all four quarters.
Stafford put up season highs in passer rating (132.4), completion percentage (78.8) and yards per attempt (10.9). He was absolutely lethal.
Running backs: D
Things got off to a very promising start for Ameer Abdullah. Detroit finally gave him red zone and third down touches, and Abdullah rewarded them early with a 4-yard touchdown scamper.
But it was all downhill from there. Abdullah fumbled two times on Monday, once in the red zone, which is absolutely the last thing the Lions need considering their ongoing red zone issues.
In the end, the Lions back combined for 31 carries and just 60 rushing yards. Less than 2 yards per carry is absolutely atrocious and the Packers run defense isn’t even all that good.
Wide receivers: A+
Marvin Jones Jr., Golden Tate and T.J. Jones combined for 16 catches, 249 yards and two touchdowns on just 22 targets. Detroit’s receivers were getting open, sure-handed and even play-making after the catch.
This is the second straight game that the Lions receivers have shown out to be a formidable unit, which is a relief after their early-season struggles.
Tight ends: B+
Eric Ebron and Darren Fells didn’t have much of an impact in the passing game, but they didn’t have any negative plays in that regard, either. Ebron hauled in three catches on four targets, gaining 35 yards and two first downs. Fells, too, had a first-down pickup.
The two also didn’t stick out for any good or bad reasons as blockers, which is a tick up from typical games.
Offensive line: B
For the second straight game, pass protection was excellent for Matthew Stafford. Detroit was sacked just once on the day, and it came on a gimmick flea-flicker play that was doomed to fail.
But the offensive line gets dinged for more red zone failures in which there were no visible holes available for Detroit’s backs. The Lions’ front five just can’t seem to get any push on the goal line and it resulted in one of the ugliest quarterback sneak attempts I’ve ever seen.
Defensive line: B-
The Lions hadn’t had a sack in two games, and they finally crossed that barrier with three against the Packers. Although one of those came from a safety blitz courtesy of Tavon Wilson and another from linebacker Tahir Whitehead, Detroit was bringing quarterback pressure on a fairly consistent basis.
It wasn’t a breakout performance from anyone on the team, but it was a good overall effort from a unit that has been struggling all year. A step in the right direction, but there is still plenty of room to grow here.
Though Tahir Whitehead made a few very good plays, including his first sack of the year and an additional tackle for loss, the linebackers actually struggled a bit against the Packers.
Jarrad Davis looked a bit hesitant out there and found himself in the wrong gaps on a couple of occasions. Detroit’s linebackers weren’t their typical swarming selves, and as a result, the Packers actually managed to rush for 4.6 yards per carry. Had the Lions offense not gotten out to such a big lead, Green Bay could have controlled the game on the ground.
The Lions just have so many playmakers in their secondary right now. Tavon Wilson is a run-stopping machine. Darius Slay is a lockdown cornerback. Glover Quin is good for at least two game-changing plays a game, and Quandre Diggs is having a career year in the nickel. Even DJ Hayden had himself a night:
Lions CB Quandre Diggs was impressive— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) November 7, 2017
The Lions are still trying to figure out some issues with their No. 2 corner position, as Nevin Lawson struggled a bit, but we saw Teez Tabor in the game early. Maybe that role increases as we enter the final half of the season.
Special teams: C+
The Lions really didn’t have any plays that moved the needle on special teams. A’Shawn Robinson did have an early blocked field goal, which prevented the Lions from falling behind on the first possession of the game. However, the Lions’ kick coverage wasn’t all that good (20.0 yards per return), and Detroit’s return game was just bad.
Matt Prater missed a 55-yarder, but that is completely forgivable in 30-degree weather at Lambeau. What isn’t forgivable is Sam Martin’s 0 punting yards. WHAT GIVES, SAM?
Despite some of the same red zone issues we saw last week, the Lions’ game plan was masterful considering it was the Packers with the extra week of preparation for this game. The Lions didn’t just control the clock on offense like they did last year, they were finishing drives. Detroit put up points in six of eight drives, and it would have been seven had Prater not missed that field goal.
In terms of in-game decisions, you could make an argument that the Lions should have gone for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, but if the Steelers game taught us anything, it’s that this goal-line offense is really bad and sometimes it’s okay to just take the points. While I typically like going for it in every situation like that, I would have been fine with either decision there.
As for Jim Bob Cooter, who had been on the hot seat after his past few performances, you can really see him trying to switch things up. For the second week in a row, we saw some brand new plays, including an extremely successful goal-line toss to Ameer Abdullah for Detroit’s second touchdown of the game.