The Detroit Lions’ loss to the Chicago Bears was nothing new. The same, consistent problems reared their ugly heads, which means this is going to be a familiar report card, but one particularly harsh on the coaches. Let’s get into it.
Much like last week, Matthew Stafford was hardly the only problem in Sunday’s game, but he was indeed part of the problem
Early on, the Lions offense sputtered because poor running plays set Stafford and the Lions offense behind the sticks. But Stafford had his chances and he missed on them. He took sacks he didn’t need to take, he passed on easy scrambles for first down, and he forced balls into tight coverage.
His touch is off, his awareness is off and he’s turning the ball over like it’s 2012.
Running backs: C+
Kerryon Johnson had a hell of a game and had he not fumbled, the backs probably would’ve gotten a solid B. Johnson’s 3.6 yards per carry doesn’t look all that good, but the rookie back fought for every inch and was also active in the running game.
That being said, LeGarrette Blount is as close to useless as you can get right now. His first five carries went for exactly -1 yards.
Theo Riddick spent a lot of time on the field as a pass protector and had a couple of nice runs after the catch, resulting in six catches for 60 yards.
Tight ends: D+
The Lions only had two active tight ends this week, as Luke Willson was inactive with a shoulder injury. Both Levine Toilolo and Michael Roberts suffered in-game injuries against the Bears and were largely non-factors in this game, despite the fact that the Bears were vulnerable over the middle of the field. They duo combined for two catches.
Wide receivers: C
Kenny Golladay made a few impressive catches on the day, and Marvin Jones Jr. had Detroit’s longest play of the game (32 yards). But no one is getting consistently open and right now the Lions simply don’t have a third wide receiver.
From @NextGenStats, the NFL average separation a WR gets from his nearest defender at time of catch/incompletion is 2.8 yards.— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) November 12, 2018
For the Lions yesterday:
-TJ Jones 2.48 yards
-Kenny Golladay 2.33
-Michael Roberts 1.78
-Marvin Jones 1.25
Anthony Miller, meanwhile, was 4.72 yards
TJ Jones had one catch and Brandon Powell only got playing time late in the game.
Offensive line: F
I suppose you could say allowing just six sacks is an improvement over last week, but when your former first-round left tackle has this happen to him...
... something is very very wrong.
(Note: Decker actually has his foot stepped on by Frank Ragnow on this play, making his job nearly impossible against Mack. Still, while this was more unfortunate than a sign of bad play, it pretty well encapsulates how poor this unit is playing together)
The giant lanes in the running game are gone, no one seems to be able to pass protect, and and I’m starting wonder if I hallucinated the first half of the season when the Lions offensive line could actually play football.
Defensive line: B
The Lions were able to actually make the Chicago Bears offense one-dimensional. Thanks to another solid game from Damon Harrison Sr. and A’Shawn Robinson, the Lions held Chicago to just 54 rushing yards on 22 carries (2.5 YPC). This is the run defense improvement we’ve seen on tape over the past two week, but hadn’t seen in the box score until Sunday.
The line gets dinged because they’re still struggling to create a pass rush, but in fairness to them, opposing quarterbacks are getting rid of the ball quicker and quicker, due to horrible coverage (more on that later).
Jarrad Davis was either seen missing tackles, failing to contain Mitchell Trubisky as a spy or being beat in coverage. He wasn’t responsible for any huge plays, but it seems like he messed up on a lot of little ones. The personal foul penalty was dumb, but overall not that costly (6 yards).
No other linebacker made any plays worthy of mention here. Pretty standard day from them.
The Lions defensive backs were bad enough with Darius Slay, but now we know there was actually room to fall without him. There were mental breakdowns, there were poor plays on the ball, there were penalties and there was just straight one-on-one domination from the Bears receivers.
Quandre Diggs had a pretty darn good game and it wasn’t nearly enough to compensate for just how bad everyone else was. Let’s take a look at opposing quarterbacks over the past three weeks:
The last 3 opposing QBs vs. the #Lions— Pride of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) November 12, 2018
55-for-69 for 767 yards (11.1 Y/A), 7 TDs, 1 INT — Passer rating: 140.8
That’s not just bad. That’s absolutely terrifyingly bad.
Special teams: B-
The Lions made a 52-yard field goal in windy Chicago, recovered an onside kick, and pretty much limited the Bears’ return game to a non-factor. However, they also were responsible for a couple of penalties, and Sam Martin was bad again. Overall, it’s a net positive, but not by much.
Let’s start with the little nuisances. I thought this was Matt Patricia’s worst in-game management of the season. Early in the game, the Lions burned a timeout after they weren’t ready to kick a 55-yard field goal. After the timeout, the Lions decided to punt. In that situation, the Lions should have just taken a delay of game penalty. They really could have used that timeout at the end of the half to get one more possession.
The Lions went for it on fourth down five times in this game, but it should’ve been six. Detroit’s defense was not stopping Chicago early in the game, and with the Lions facing a fourth-and-inches from their own 34-yard line, they opted to punt instead of participate in the shootout that was clearly happening.
There were also the questionable challenges late in the game, both of which the Lions lost and cost Detroit valuable timeouts. Detroit also went up-tempo to start the game, which was met with some early success, but the Lions abandoned those plans before the drive was even through.
But on a macro scale, this was just as big of a disaster. The Lions clearly don’t have a workable gameplan on offense without Golden Tate. Defensively, they can’t seem to get the defensive backs on the same page, and this team has looked wildly outmatched in the past three weeks with no marked improvement. Playoff hopes are long gone, and this team seems headed back to the Pre-Caldwell dark ages.