While the officiating stole most of the headlines from “Monday Night Football” there’s plenty of analysis to actually get to. So let’s put away our Detroit vs. Everybody shirts for a second and talk about the Detroit Lions’ performance against the Green Bay Packers.
Here’s our Week 6 report card.
Matthew Stafford came out on Monday night dealing, completing 12 of 16 passes for 219 yards in the first half alone. He dropped perfect bombs to Marvin Hall and Kenny Golladay in the first quarter, and was just picking apart a good Packers secondary for the first 30 minutes of the game.
Unfortunately, Stafford couldn’t replicate his performance in the second half. He went just 6 of 16 for 46 yards in the final two quarters. While some of that isn’t his fault, he did miss on a few key throws and just didn’t look as composed as he did in the first half.
Running backs: D
While I still think Kerryon Johnson is more than capable of being a good running back and most of Detroit’s problems lie with the blocking, no running back made a single important play in this game.
Worst of all, Johnson’s drop/fumble/whatever late in the game stalled a Detroit drive that could have potentially ended the game. Detroit settled for three to go up nine after the drop, but had Johnson held onto the ball, the Lions could have not only scored a touchdown but ran a lot more clock.
Tight ends: D
It wasn’t a great day for T.J. Hockenson, who had another critical drop that cost the Lions four points early in the game—even though I insist it was a catch by today’s rules. And while he did pull in four catches for 21 yards, his mistakes loom large in a one-point loss.
Wide receivers: C+
Kenny Golladay continues to look like a stud and the big-play machine expected out of a No. 1 receiver, and it’s nice to see Marvin Hall making another big play. But the Lions’ No. 2 and 3 receiver were essentially invisible in this game.
Danny Amendola saw just one target, while Marvin Jones Jr. pulled in just two catches for 17 yards on five targets. After the infamous pass interference non-call, Jones dropped a chain-moving third down pass, and the Lions never got the ball back after that— Another critical mistake the Lions made that could have overcome a bad break.
Offensive line: C-
Whatever the Lions are doing as a run blocking unit is not working. The Packers came into this game allowing 5.2 yards per carry. The Lions rushed for just 2.8 yards per carry. Detroit has now failed to hit 4.0 yards per carry in four of their first five games, and that is a huge reason why this team is continuing to forfeit leads late in the game.
That being said, I thought pass protection was actually pretty solid in this game. They did give up three sacks on the day, but for the most part, Stafford had a clean pocket in his 38 pass dropbacks.
Defensive line: C-
Given that the Lions, again, produced mostly three and four-man rushes against the Packers, Detroit’s lack of pass rush was somewhat predictable, and maybe not so much on the players themselves. Even so, the Lions did get to Aaron Rodgers on a few key downs, and when they weren’t being unfairly flagged about it, that pressure created sacks and incompletions.
But a mediocre pass rush combined with some ridiculously-sized rushing lanes is a bad look for this defensive front that continues to wildly underperform based on preseason expectations.
Jarrad Davis continues to really struggle defending the run. Davis and Christian Jones are huge liabilities in coverage, as well, and they’re lucky Aaron Jones was having a bad day.
This has been the Lions’ worst unit all season long, and they showed exactly why on Monday night. The only saving grace was Jarrad Davis’ well-disguised blitz that forced a third-down incompletion. That’s the only positive thing I have to say about this unit.
While Detroit certainly benefited from a beat-up Packers receiving corps, they mostly did their job throughout the entire game. Giving Aaron Rodgers as much time as they did, Detroit’s coverage held up pretty darn well. Justin Coleman added three more passes defended to his already illustrious 2019 season. Rashaan Melvin added another to his bounce-back season. And Darius Slay was never heard nor seen from because Rodgers didn’t bother looking his way for the majority of the night.
All that being said, they gave up too many plays in the fourth quarter. Aaron Rodgers went 9-of-13 for 147 yards and a touchdown (and a fluky interception) in the final quarter alone. Much like in the Chiefs game, they were one or two plays short of a game-winning performance.
Special teams: B
The too many men penalty was an utter disaster and cost the Lions at least four points. But other than that, the Lions’ special teams unit was actually quite good. Their coverage teams have done a lot better after a shaky start to the year, and they even forced a turnover after Dee Virgin blasted the Packers’ punt returner.
Oh, and Matt Prater is a god among men.
In terms of in-game decisions, I don’t have any problems with how head coach Matt Patricia handled the game. One could argue that he should have challenged pass interference in the fourth quarter, but given how that new rule has been implemented so far, I don’t think that call gets overturned, and the Lions would end up needing that timeout late.
However, the Lions have now blown three fourth-quarter leads and nearly blown a fourth. At some point, that has to fall on the coaching. This team is getting outplayed in the fourth quarter, and whether that’s due to fatigue or poor game-planning out of the half, it ultimately falls on the coaching.