The Detroit Lions held their own for four quarters against the Green Bay Packers, but by the end of the game, it was clear they just were good enough to pull off a big upset at home. It was an embarrassingly bad performance, which is certainly an upgrade from the Matt Patricia era, but all of the Lions’ roster deficiencies were on display, especially on defense.
Here’s a look at our Week 14 report card for the Lions.
In the first half, Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers were absolutely dueling. Look at the stats after two quarters:
Aaron Rodgers: 12-of-15, 149 yards, 2 TDs, 147.6 passer rating
Matthew Stafford: 17-of-22, 203 yards, 1 TD, 120.1 passer rating
Stafford cooled off considerably in the second half, amassing just 41 passing yards before leaving with an injury, but he barely had any opportunities because the Packers possessions were lasting 7 minutes at a time. Overall, it was a very solid game from Stafford, with his only blemishes being a couple sacks he probably could’ve avoided taking.
Chase Daniel had one really good pass on a third-and-9 and that’s the only notable thing he did.
Running backs: B-
Nothing spectacular from this unit. The Lions chose to abandon the run pretty early in this game, leaving D’Andre Swift’s return to be pretty muted. That being said, the running backs were somewhat lethal in the screen game against the Packers. Swift, Adrian Peterson, and Kerryon Johnson all combined for six catches and 59 yards. Johnson and Swift also punched it in on the goal line, as Detroit’s red zone offense continues to look much improved .
Tight ends: C
Hockenson finished with six catches, 43 yards and a touchdown, but it came on 11 targets. Hockenson had a drop or two and is getting almost no yards after the catch, as he frustratingly falls down after nearly every completion. Hockenson was also tagged with an obvious holding.
As for everyone else, Hunter Bryant still hasn’t been worked into the offensive lineup, and Jesse James was purely an adequate blocker on Sunday.
Wide receivers: C
I don’t care what the box score says, I’m giving Marvin Jones Jr. credit for this.
Dear god he caught it. pic.twitter.com/aMLMktPSL9— Jeremy Reisman (@DetroitOnLion) December 13, 2020
Quintez Cephus had a drop, and receivers weren’t getting much separation from a solid Packers secondary.
Still, this unit managed to make the most out of their opportunities. Mohamed Sanu made a couple of early, impactful completions. Danny Amendola continues to be one of Stafford’s favorite targets—pulling in six of seven targets for 66 yards. And, dangit, Marvin Jones caught that ball.
Offensive line: D
Against a poor front seven, the Lions couldn’t get anything going on the ground. Their longest run of the game was an 11-yard end around by Jamal Agnew. The longest run for Detroit’s running backs: 5 yards.
Additionally, Stafford got pretty beat up by the Packers. Matt Nelson had a rough game, as Stafford took six quarterback hits and 4.0 sacks.
Defensive line: F
On the other side of the ball, the Lions defensive line combined for one quarterback hit and zero sacks. Aaron Rodgers had absolutely all day to pass, and he used it to pick apart the Lions defense without any sort of discomfort in the pocket. Rodgers, who hasn’t scrambled the ball much this year, also easily found escape lanes to pick up first downs with his feet and also get into the end zone on a critical third-and-goal from the 6.
Detroit did do a decent job at stopping the run, but Aaron Jones still managed 4.6 yards per carry on 10 rushes. The Lions were beat up on the defensive line and it showed.
Detroit tried to generate a pass rush by blitzing linebackers fairly often, and it did not work. When the linebackers weren’t blitzing, they were getting absolutely torched in coverage. It’s hard to point to a single member of the Lions linebacking corps that even had an acceptable day out there, which is becoming par for the course for this unit.
The secondary was given absolutely no help from anyone else on the field, yet still managed to break up three Aaron Rodgers passes, including good plays from Darryl Roberts and Mike Ford.
However, everything else was really, really bad. Amani Oruwariye continues to struggle after assuming Detroit’s No. 1 cornerback role due to injury. Duron Harmon took a bad angle on Davante Adams’ 56-yard touchdown.
The secondary gets credit for making a few plays that actually got the defense off the field, but outside of those few plays, it was another long day for Detroit’s defensive backs.
Special teams: B
Jamal Agnew finally got his big kickoff return late on Sunday, and it gave Detroit one last miracle chance to win the game. However, it was an otherwise quiet day from special teams (which is often a good thing).
I loved that the Lions didn’t go into a shell with 35 seconds left in the half and tried to score points. The offensive play-calling was fairly solid, especially to start the game. And the Lions realized early on that this was going to be a shootout and embraced it, rather than forcing a running game that 1) wasn’t working and 2) was only going to eat up clock.
However, the Lions also showed absolutely no urgency in the fourth quarter of the game when they were down 14 points. Their 13-play touchdown drive that turned it back into a one-score game took 5:31 off the clock, featured zero no-huddle, and the Lions often took the play clock all the way down to zero. Detroit had to know there was a good chance the Packers weren’t done scoring (they weren’t), so they absolutely should’ve upped the tempo there.
Still, you have to give Darrell Bevell credit for making this team look competent and competitive against one of the best teams in the NFL, despite having a roster that is injury depleted and just worse than Green Bay’s.