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Detroit Lions report card, position grades: Dominant 3-phase performance vs. Jaguars

The Detroit Lions put up an honor roll performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars. We give out grades here.

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NFL: DEC 04 Jaguars at Lions Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Detroit Lions handed out their first true whooping of the 2022 season, and it’s time to give the Lions players and coaches their due. It’s been an incredible five-game run for the team, and it all culminated on Sunday with a 40-14 beatdown of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

It’s hard to complain about the performance of any single unit from the entire team on Sunday... so I won’t.

Here are my grades for the Lions’ Week 13 win over the Jaguars.

Quarterback: A

“Our quarterback played as good as you can play. I think he played as good as any quarterback can play today. We knew he needed a big game, it was a completion game. I thought he was on fire.”

That was Dan Campbell after Sunday’s win and it’s hard to argue with him. Jared Goff played as perfect of a game as you could expect against the Jaguars. Not only was Goff accurate most of the day, but he often delivered the ball with a defender in his face or out of platform.

Perhaps most promising was Goff’s deep ball. Just look at this dang chart:

And even when Goff did take his two sacks of the day, he minimized the damage to just 3 total yards with some surprising mobility and pocket presence.

Here are some more fun stats for your Monday morning:

  • Goff’s completion percentage (75.6) was sixth-highest of the week and was 6.6% higher than expectation, per NextGenStats
  • His 115.9 passer rating was the fourth-highest of the week
  • His adjusted net yards per pass attempt (8.77) was fourth highest of the week

Running backs: B+

D’Andre Swift had a nice bounce-back game, totaling 111 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. I still think he’s having issues with his overall vision, but it’s nice to see him carving out a role in the receiving game, where he may be the most dangerous right now.

Elsewhere, Jamaal Williams keeps doing Jamaal Williams things (mostly scoring touchdowns and converting short-yardage situations). Justin Jackson did have a bad drop that would have resulted in a big gain, but he’s still showing he’s got solid value as RB3 (not to mention his day on special teams, but more on that later).

Tight ends: C

Not much moving the needle in either direction here. Brock Wright and Shane Zylstra combined for three catches and 29 yards, while rookie James Mitchell was shut out in the box score. However, the crew only got three targets, so they couldn’t have turned their opportunities into anything more.

In terms of blocking, I still think this unit has a long way to go, especially as pass protectors.

Wide receivers: A+

Here are your top three Lions receivers:

  • Amon-Ra St. Brown: Caught 11 of 12 targets for 114 yards and 2 TDs
  • DJ Chark: Caught 5 of 6 targets for 98 yards
  • Josh Reynolds: Caught 3 of 4 targets for 19 yards

All of that combined: 19-of-22 for 231 yards and 2 TDs or a 140.7 passer rating when targeting the top options.

Offensive line: B+

The Lions still have a problem at right guard as Kayode Awosika somewhat surprisingly kept right guard duties despite Dan Skipper being freed up after the return of Jonah Jackson.

However, it’s hard to complain about the rest of the offensive line. Detroit’s impressive bookend tackles held Travon Walker and Josh Allen to just a single quarterback hit, and according to PFF, Penei Sewell didn’t allow a single pressure on 43 dropbacks—the first time he’s done that all year.

Defensive line: B

John Cominsky had a couple of big plays, including a pair of run stops and a third-down pass batted down. Aidan Hutchinson and Benito Jones shared a sack. James Houston looks like a third-down weapon, tallying his third sack in two games.

Those were all big plays, but there was certainly more to be desired from this group as a whole. Pass rush was inconsistent, but the run defense was improved, allowing Travis Etienne—who averages well over 5.0 yards per carry—to just 54 yards and 4.2 YPC.

Linebackers: B+

As far as my memory takes me, the only true “bad” play from the linebacking corps was Derrick Barnes taking a poor angle on a pass to Etienne. However, Barnes quickly made up for it with an impressive pursuit on a running play shortly thereafter, resulting in a tackle for loss.

Meanwhile, Alex Anzalone had another positive game, blowing up a screen and recovering Etienne's early fumble.

Detroit also used the Lions’ linebacking corps early and often as pass rushers, and it often forced the ball out quick for Trevor Lawrence, forcing a completion percentage of just 54.8, his fourth-lowest mark of the season.

Secondary: B+

It wasn’t a perfect day from the secondary and only Will Harris and Jerry Jacobs notched pass breakups. However, they held strong against a pretty darn good set of receivers and a quarterback capable of dropping dimes.

The Lions gave up a pass play of 37 yards early on, and one of 20 yards late. On the other 29 passing attempts, Lawrence was just 15-of-29 for 122 yards.

And here’s another blurb from PFF:

Cornerback Jeffrey Okudah has done all he can this season to shake the bust label that followed him his first two seasons with the Lions. Against the Jaguars he was targeted seven times and allowed only two catches for nine yards. Over his past three games, Okudah has allowed a grand total of 26 yards into his coverage.

Special teams: A

Michael Badgley was a perfect 4-for-4 on field goals and 4-for-4 on extra points. Both of Justin Jackson’s kick returns went for more than 30 yards. Kalif Raymond continues to show that he can make the first man miss on his punt returns. Meanwhile, the coverage team held the dangerous Jamal Agnew to kick returns of just 21 and 25 yards.

PLUS, you never punted.

You literally could not ask for a better performance from special teams.

Coaching: A

First, we have to give it up to offensive coordinator Ben Johnson—while we still can(?). After getting criticized for his third-and-1 call on Thanksgiving, Johnson had a nearly perfect day on third down calls against the Jaguars. Detroit converted on 8-of-12 third downs. Here’s what Goff had to say after the game when I asked him about Johnson’s impact.

“He’s the mastermind. He really is. He’s done a hell of a job every single week, kind of reloading the chamber and just giving us more bullets to go with every single week. Every single week it seems like we’ve got a good plan and a bunch of touchdown plays, a bunch of explosive plays, and the run game as well, just what he’s been able to do and designing that, and again, every week it seems like we come back, and we’ve got an even better plan and then a better plan”

But credit to literally everyone this week. This was a three-phase win with each unit doing their job.

Of course, the man behind it all is Dan Campbell. It wouldn’t have been completely surprising to see this team have a let-down game after dropping a tough one to the Bills last week. Instead, they put together their best performance of the year, and that means Campbell is clearly steering this team into the right mental space every week.

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