The Detroit Lions are winners of back-to-back games for the first time in the Dan Campbell era. It wasn’t the prettiest of wins against the Chicago Bears—and that is reflected in this week’s report card—but the most important mark of all is a tally in the win position.
Here are my positional grades for the Detroit Lions 31-30 victory over the Chicago Bears.
We’re going to go ahead and pretend that interception that never happened ever happened. Because other than that play—that, again, does not count—Jared Goff played a phenomenal game against the Bears.
One of the biggest criticism levied against Goff is that he has not been able to elevate a poor set of receivers around him, and in the fourth quarter against the Bears, that’s exactly what he did. In the final 15 minutes, Goff went 6-of-8 for 98 yards, with four of those completions going to Kalif Raymond, Justin Jackson, and Tom Kennedy—three guys who would not start on most teams.
He was also pretty darn good in the first half, completing 10-of-14 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown.
Goff managed the pocket well for most of the game and made some narrow-window throws. He was the Lions offense on a day in which the run game struggled and pass protection was unreliable.
He gets dropped a half-grade for a pretty bad third quarter, but otherwise, I thought this was a good day from Goff.
Running backs: C-
Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift found the end zone, but it was otherwise ineffective days from the Lions backfield. Swift does not look like his old self, as he appears extra cautious in avoiding contact and was caught a couple times running too much east/west and not enough north/south.
To be fair to this group, the Bears didn’t make things easy, especially for Williams:
Per @NextGenStats, Jamaal Williams faced an 8+ man box on 50% of his carries vs. the Bears. Only Nick Chubb and… (gulp) Khalil Herbert saw a higher percentage in Week 10.— Jeremy Reisman (@DetroitOnLion) November 14, 2022
Unlike previous weeks, the Lions running backs were not targeted much in the pass game. However, Williams did have a really nice blitz pickup on one of Detroit’s big pass plays in the first half.
Tight ends: C-
Another tight end this week, as Brock Wright did a great job selling the block on this key fourth-and-goal conversion:
But that was just about it from the tight end group in the receiving game. Rookie James Mitchell added just one catch for 4 yards. Shane Zylstra did have a critical drop on third down, though Goff’s pass didn’t do him any favors.
On first viewing, I don’t have much of an opinion on the tight ends’ blocking.
Wide receivers: B
Amon-Ra St. Brown has damn near unstoppable in Chicago, catching 10 of 11 targets for the fourth 100-yard game of his young career.
It was a pretty quiet day for the rest of the receiving corps... until the most important drive of the game. Tom Kennedy made his one and only catch—a 44-yard explosive play—on Detroit’s game-winning drive, and Kalif Raymond added 20 of his own a few plays before that.
Offensive line: D
Disappointing day from the offensive line. The Chicago Bears defensive line isn’t good, and they were allowing 4.9 yards per carry for the season. Detroit failed to dominate the trenches, averaging just 3.1 yards per carry on the ground, and they had another frustrating failed third-and-1 conversion.
Pass protection was acceptable, but there Bears did seem to confuse the front five on a few occasions, creating a free rusher at Goff.
Defensive line: C
I have mixed feelings about the defensive line. On one hand, the Lions were absolutely gashed by runs up the middle. While the focus was mostly on Justin Fields’ day, Khalil Herbert and David Montgomery were dominant, as well. They combined for 19 carries and 94 yards (4.95 YPC).
Early in the game, the Lions struggled to contain Fields, but they finished extremely strong on that front. Designed runs were a different story (and I think LBs and DBs were more to blame there), but when it came to keeping Fields within the pocket and not letting him escape, I think the Lions actually did a phenomenal job. If Isaiah Buggs makes that tackle on the Fields short TD run, they may have been perfect on the day.
Aidan Hutchinson, in particular, played Fields phenomenally. He kept him corralled for most the game, and he forced Fields to hesitate on a screen play that would eventually turn into a pick-six.
Jarrad Davis got a somewhat surprising elevation from the practice squad and immediately had a nice pass breakup in the first quarter. Alex Anzalone pitched in with 10 tackles and a pass defended (that may or may not have been pass interference) and even forced a fumble.
A lot of good and a lot of bad from this unit. Kerby Joseph had a game to forget, blowing coverage on the first Cole Kmet touchdown, and he may have very well been responsible for the missed assignment on the 50-yard touchdown, too:
But the Lions were largely not beaten by Fields’ arm, and Jeff Okudah had a fantastic day in coverage. Sure, the pick-six was largely a gift, but credit to him for actually making the play.
Additionally, the Lions secondary was absolutely in lockdown mode on the Bears’ final drive. Fields took a couple coverage sacks to lose the game.
Special teams: D
Jack Fox was uncharacteristically horrible, shanking a pair of boots in this game, and the Lions allowed a 50-yard kick return. Detroit responded with a nice 39-yard kick return of their own, but it didn’t really end up mattering with essentially no time left in the first half (more on that later).
Give the Lions coaching staff credit for creating a defensive gameplan that may not have been perfect, but came up big in big moments.
Offensively speaking, I still have some issues. It’s clear the Bears were selling out to stop the run, trying to force Goff to beat them. But here’s the thing: Goff was beating them in the first half. And what does Dan Campbell tell the FOX sideline reporter at halftime? We need to run the ball. Detroit comes out in the third quarter and runs three times en route to a quick three and out, and before you know it, Detroit is down 14.
Additionally, I was annoyed with how Campbell failed to utilize his timeouts at the end of the first half. As a reminder, here was the scenario: The Bears had the ball first-and-10 at the Lions’ 18-yard line at the two-minute warning. That’s plenty of time for Chicago to score, but it’s also plenty of time to carve out another offensive possession for Detroit. The Lions had all three timeouts, and Chicago would only end up running five more plays. That means four out of those five plays could’ve ended with a stopped clock (3 timeouts and the eventual TD), giving Detroit plenty of time to try and re-take the lead before halftime. Instead, they let the clock run, and a huge kickoff return went to waste. Detroit’s offense was rolling up until this point in the game, and it is the head coach’s job to maximize the amount of opportunities for their team to score.
Overall, though, this is nitpicky. Detroit made critical plays in the fourth quarter, and that started with critical play calls. Kudos to Ben Johnson and Aaron Glenn for helping close out the game.