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Detroit Lions Week 15 grades: Hard to find positives in blowout vs. Buccaneers

Our report card is very sad this week.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions started slow and finished with an implosion in their 38-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. As team continues to struggle defensively and start to really feel the injuries on offense, it’s harder and harder to see the positives in this team, both for 2019 and beyond.

With that in mind, here’s a look at our Week 15 report card.

Quarterback: F

David Blough’s Thanksgiving debut is beginning to look more and more like a fluke. Blough was inaccurate, indecisive and made a game-sealing pick-six just when it looked like the Lions may actually make a three-touchdown comeback.

The offense has never looked so hapless this season. This used to be one of the best teams at avoiding three-and-outs on offense, yet four of their first six possessions did exactly that.

Running backs: D-

Wes Hills two touchdowns were nice and he’s a great story, but if we’re being honest he was not a very effective running back on Sunday. He rushed for just 21 yards on 10 carries—and that was aided by a 15-yard run late in the game. That means he had just 6 yards on nine carries before that.

In addition, J.D McKissic had a late fumble and Ty Johnson remains a non-factor.

Tight ends: D

Jesse James had a couple of drops, but also put up his best performance of the year with three catches for 31 yards. Isaac Nauta also had a drop, while Logan Thomas didn’t register a catch on four targets.

Wide receivers: B

Hard to blame receivers for much of anything that happened on Sunday. Danny Amendola surpassed 100 yards for the third time this season (and just his 11th time in his career). He tried as hard as he could to provide an emotional spark, too.

Kenny Golladay and Chris Lacy added a couple of big plays that nearly got the team back in the game.

Still, you could tell this unit was missing Marvin Jones Jr.

Offensive line: D

An overmatched and beat-up offensive line held their own against a good Buccaneers defensive line. They ceded just two sacks and a handful of hurries, but failed to open much of anything at all in the running game. Granted, this was the NFL’s best run defense they were up against, but it was still disappointing to see considering how improved Detroit has been in the running game.

Defensive line: C

Pressure was still at a minimum, as it has been all year. Trey Flowers managed to get to Jameis Winston a few times, but failed to take him down on at least two occasions.

The good news is that Detroit’s run defense continues to look dominant. Taking away the four kneel downs at the end of the game, the Lions allowed just 50 rushing yards on 25 carries—for exactly 2.0 yards per carry.

Linebackers: C+

Credit Jahlani Tavai for his first career interception and a quarterback hit to go with it. Devon Kennard also had a solid game before leaving with an injury—tallying four tackles, one sack and two tackles for loss.

But the Lions’ linebackers were pretty awful in coverage, as Winston managed to find open spots in zone early and often.

Secondary: F

There’s no way around it. The Lions secondary was just awful on Sunday. This may have been their worst performance of the year, as they allowed the Mike Evans-less Buccaneers to throw all over them, averaging 10.9 yards per passing attempt on Sunday.

Two receivers—Chris Godwin and Breshad Perriman—went over 100 yards receiving. Perriman had three touchdowns, and it didn’t matter if it was Rashaan Melvin or Amani Oruwariye guarding him.

Put it all together, and the Lions allowed nine passing plays of 20 yards or more on Sunday, which is about eight too many. To be frank, it was downright embarrassing, even for this defense.

Special teams: B

Not really much to say here. Sam Martin had a ridiculous punt that bounced out at the 1-yard line. Matt Prater made all of his kicks. Nothing of significance happened in the return game for either team. Special teams wasn’t a factor on Sunday for either team, which I guess is a good thing.

Coaching: D

This is a glass half full/half empty kind of situation. Do you blame the coaching staff for the team’s horrible start or do you give them credit for halftime adjustments and keeping the team mentally in the game until Blough’s game-losing interception?

Well, the truth is they should be blamed/credited with both. Detroit came out with a lot of zone on defense and Winston picked them apart. Bad coaching. They settled down for a bit in the second half, but then the players got burned anyways in man-coverage.

In the end, I suppose you can give this staff some credit for the team showing “fight.” But when the team is losing games in an all too familiar pattern, I’m not exactly ready to pat them on the back for getting their players to “play hard,” when that’s resulting in 21-point losses.

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