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Detroit Lions Week 2 report card: Offense sputters, defense fails vs. Packers

Slip, sliding away.

Detroit Lions v Green Bay Packers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Matt Patricia, you may want to check your mail frequently and repeatedly. Because if your parents see the report card that you’re about to get, you’re going to be grounded. I hope you have the mailman’s schedule memorized and some whiteout handy, because you’re about to lose cell phone privileges for a month.

Here is the Detroit Lions’ Week 2 report card after their 42-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Quarterback: D

Whether it’s due to the shortened offseason combined with almost a year off from football or some injury that he suffered early in the game, Matthew Stafford was not sharp at all in this game. He was inaccurate, he took more unnecessary sacks, and, most importantly, he made another critical error that erased any small chance that the Lions come out of Lambeau with a win.

After Jamie Collins Sr. made this defense’s only big play of the year—finally forcing the Packers to a punt with a third-down sack—Stafford’s rebuttal was to throw a pick-six on the very next play from scrimmage. There’s no excuse for that play (see Week 12 from last year). He’s a 12-year veteran who got played by a 24-year-old defensive back in his second career start. You just can’t do that.

Running backs: B

After the devastating drop at the end of the game last week, you love to see D’Andre Swift respond by catching all five passes thrown his way the following week. He’ll continue to be a nice offensive weapon for this team in the passing game, as the Lions slowly work him into the running game, as well.

Kerryon Johnson had an excellent bounce-back game after many were writing his eulogy last week. Meanwhile, Adrian Peterson ripped off another big 25-yard run early in the game. It’s a shame the score dictated that the Lions move away from the running game, because that was the one thing that was actually working on Sunday.

Tight ends: C

T.J. Hockenson had a big first half, hauling in three passes for 58 yards. But he completely disappeared in the second, catching just one pass for 4 yards. Granted, he didn’t see any other targets, but when this team is down three scores in the second half, and your top-10 draft pick isn’t part of the game plan, something is wrong.

Meanwhile, rumors this offseason that Jesse James would be more involved in the passing game this year have been extremely exaggerated. He quite literally hasn’t been targeted a single time yet in the 2020 season.

Wide receivers: D

To put it bluntly, the Lions receivers were blanketed by Packers defenders all game. Though Green Bay only had four passes defended on the day, Stafford had trouble finding any open receivers on Sunday. Marvin Jones Jr. lost his battle against Jaire Alexander (four catches for just 23 yards and a score) decisively. Meanwhile, the Lions didn’t get meaningful contributions from Quintez Cephus until the game was already over.

Offensive line: D+

Oday Aboushi did some heavily lifting to drag this entire unit down. Not only did he give up a handful of pressures, but he also committed a drive-killing personal foul with a late, stupid hit. Aboushi then followed it up with a holding penalty that stopped the clock during a later play whose entire purpose was to run the clock.

I haven’t said this a lot lately, but T.J. Lang was right:

Joe Dahl went to IR this week, and the Lions have to consider getting a different replacement than Aboushi, because his performance was uniquely terrible.

Elsewhere, Tyrell Crosby struggled a bit, while the usual suspects—Taylor Decker and Frank Ragnow—were fine.

Defense: F

Okay, normally I would split things up by unit here. To save some time, everyone gets an F.

The defensive line is, again, creating no pressure. The coaching staff would honestly be fine with that, as long as they were containing Aaron Rodgers within the pocket and stuffing the run. The Lions did neither of those things. Da’Shawn Hand didn’t do enough to accommodate the loss of Nick Williams. Trey Flowers didn’t even crack the damn box score.

The linebackers remain the bane of this defense’s existence. They’re consistently filling the wrong run gaps and missing tackles. Their coverage abilities remain terrible, whether they’re in man or zone. Crossing route after crossing route, we saw linebackers running into their own guys, leaving a Packers receiver wide open.

And what’s there to say about the secondary. Do we want to talk about the countless defensive holding penalties from this unit? Or how about Jeff Okudah’s concerning NFL debut? Or how about the fact that both Will Harris and Duron Harmon took god-awful angles on Aaron Jones’ 75-yard touchdown? Harmon made a couple of good plays in pass defense, but that is not enough to save a unit that couldn’t make a single play when they needed it.

Here’s the glum reality of the defense right now:

  • They’ve given up the third-most points in the league (34.5 PPG)
  • They’ve given up more rushing yards than anyone in the league (204.0 per game)
  • They’re allowing 6.5 yards per carry, which is almost a full yard more than the next worse defense (Texans, 5.6)
  • They’ve forced zero turnovers and generated just two sacks

Special teams: C+

I’m not going to bag on Matt Prater too hard for missing another 55+ yard field goal. Meanwhile, Jack Fox continues to absolutely murder the ball. This week he upped his average from 49.3 yards per punt to 54.2(!!!). He pinned another two inside the 20-yard line and didn’t surrender a touchback.

His most impressive punt of the day came when the Lions were backed up in their own endzone. From his own 5-yard line, Fox booted a 57 yard punt that backed Green Bay to their own 38, and he had enough hangtime to force a fair catch.

The Lions have now allowed a total of just 6 yards of punt return through two games thanks largely to great punting from Fox.

Unfortunately, Jamal Agnew had a dumb personal foul penalty that caused the Lions to start at their own 10-yard line. The next play was a pick six. Yikes.

Coaching: F

First, let’s talk about in-game management issues. There weren’t a ton this week, but I do feel like the bad ones they made had a deep impact on the outcome.

One of the biggest turning points of the game came with 1:48 left in the first half. The Lions had the ball with a 14-10 lead and an opportunity to extend that before half.

However, it became clear that the Lions’ priority was not to score there. Their priority—given that the Packers only had one timeout—was to make sure Aaron Rodgers didn’t get the ball back in time to score. So they come out and run on first down, bleeding 20-30 second off the clock and earning just 4 yards. It’s not a horrible play, but it shows the true intentions of this coaching staff. They play passively. They play scared.

As luck would have it, the Lions would take a sack on the next play, forcing Green Bay to use their final timeout. And with no other choice but to run it on third-and-16 from their own 1-yard line, the Lions couldn’t even run the extra 40 seconds off the clock properly. Oday Aboushi gets a killer holding penalty that causes Rodgers to get the ball back with over a minute left instead of 20 seconds. A potential field goal quickly turns into a touchdown and the Lions head into halftime having forfeited a lead they never saw again.

A few possessions into the second half, the Lions found themselves down 31-14—three possessions. It’s fourth-and-1 from their own 34-yard line. With his defense showing no signs of life, it was for Matt Patricia to get aggressive and go for it. The Lions didn’t go for it. Meanwhile, let’s check in on the 2-0 Arizona Cardinals:

Up 20-0. Fourth-and-1 from their own 28-yard line. Almost identical situations, except one team is down three scores, the other is up three scores. And the team leading by three scores is the one being aggressive. What else needs to be said here?

Then there’s the fact that we’re in Year 3 of Matt Patricia’s defense and it’s never been worse than it is right now. He’s got the players in the locker room that don’t despise him. He’s got the veterans who know the scheme and the draft picks that were hand selected for this regime. And Patricia is still gunning this car in reverse like it was Cameron’s dad’s Ferrari.