Saturday was one of those days when nothing seemed to go right for the Detroit Lions. Even when Detroit appeared to get a quick defensive stop to start the game, an offsides penalty quickly erased that. For the next 58 minutes of the game, there were almost no positives.
The butt-whooping at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was one of the worst we’ve ever seen of this franchise, and with a history so rich in failure, that’s saying something.
So with that in mind, here are my Lions grades for Week 16.
Chase Daniel must be extremely valuable in quarterback meeting rooms, because his level of play on Saturday doesn’t warrant the three-year, $13.05 million contract the Lions gave him. Daniel didn’t anything particularly egregious against the Bucs, but the offense had absolutely no life to it. He went 13-of-18, but he attempted just three passes more than 10 yards down field and zero beyond 15.
David Blough came in and was arguably worse. He threw a terrible interception and probably should have had another on just 10 passes.
Running backs: C
This is starting to become a pattern for D’Andre Swift. For 95 percent of the game, he’s been very, very good. But that last five percent, he makes an inexcusable mistake. He’s now fumbled in back-to-back games, but it’s still hard to ignore how exciting it is every time he touches the ball. I mean, look at this:
Swift turned 14 touches into 70 yards, which qualifies for a pretty good day. 4.5 yards per carry against the best run defense almost qualifies it as a great day, but that fumble looms large again.
Wide receivers/Tight ends: C-
I’m combining both wide receivers and tight ends in this one, because they had to deal with very bad quarterback play, and it’s hard to give them an honest assessment. None of them made any big plays, but none were really given the opportunity to, either.
Offensive line: D
The Buccaneers have an aggressive defense, and the Lions didn’t have much of an answer for it. Tampa tallied 11 quarterback hits on the day and four sacks. And while the Lions did finish with a respectable 4.9 yards per carry, it wasn’t nearly enough for Detroit.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai looks like the liability we expected him to be in pass protection. Taylor Decker took a horrible false start penalty on a fourth-and-1, and Joe Dahl looks like he should probably stay at guard for the rest of his career.
Defensive line: D-
The only thing that is preventing the defensive line from getting an F is the two sacks notched collectively by Everson Griffen and Romeo Okwara. Everything else was a disaster.
Two offside penalties erased third down stops. There were exactly zero quarterback hits outside the two sacks. And the Buccaneers rushed for 111 yards and 4.3 yards per carry without their top running back.
Without Jamie Collins Sr., we finally found the answer to the question, “Can this linebacking corps get any worse?” Yes, yes it can. It didn’t matter what the Lions tried to do with their linebackers. Blitz them? Couldn’t get home. Man-to-man coverage? Toast. Zone coverage? Wide open spaces for Tom Brady to pick apart.
The Buccaneers completed 10 passes of 20 yards or more in this game. I think that says it all.
Special teams: A
Matt Prater didn’t miss a kick. Jack Fox dropped five of eight punts inside the 20 yards line. And Jamal Agnew did this:
I don’t want to bag on coaching too much here. Robert Prince and company were put in an impossible situation. Take a half-injured roster with two first-time play callers and try to look halfway decent against Tom Brady and a playoff-bound Bucs team.
They obviously failed miserably at that, and the Lions also made a bunch of weird, uncharacteristic mistakes that had the opposing head coach saying this after the game.
Bucs coach Bruce Arians on #Lions penalties (offside/false start) that negated their sack against Brady on opening drive and stunted next possession with 4&1 at midfield: "There’s no doubt, their discipline or lack of, helped us tremendously."— Larry Lage (@LarryLage) December 26, 2020
That’s not a good look, and this was a poorly prepared team by any stretch of the imagination. Still, I’m showing mercy because everyone on that sideline or up in the booth was not playing with a full deck of cards.