The Detroit Lions midseason grades are just what the doctor ordered as the boys from Motown head into their bye week 6-2 and lead the NFC North by two games. Other than the two losses, they have looked like one of the best teams in the NFC for the entire season and Dan Campbell has the boys playing very well. With eight weeks down, this bye week, and nine weeks remaining, this is the perfect time to grade out how the first half of the season has gone.
Detroit Lions midseason grades: Offense
The Detroit Lions offense was never a question mark coming into the season. Led by Jared Goff and a strong, but injured, offensive line, they have been one of the more balanced attacks in the NFL, rushing the ball 44% of the time and throwing it 56%. These numbers took a bit of a hit with David Montgomery out for the past couple of weeks as the offense has found different ways to get the ball into their playmaker's hands. Overall, their offense is sixth in the NFL in DVOA. Let's break it down by position
There's no doubt that Jared Goff is in a position to have this team in the playoffs and potentially win a playoff game for the first time in decades. His play has elevated those around him and when he's gotten comfortable in games it usually means bad news for the other team. So far, Goff is completing 68% of his passes for 2,174 yards and 12 touchdowns against five interceptions. His play hasn't been perfect, but it's been pretty close. He can clean up some self-described “stupid mistakes,” and if he does this offense will keep climbing the charts.
Overall Grade: A-
When the Lions traded up to get Jahmyr Gibbs, Detroit collectively lost their mind. It didn't make sense at the time, but Monday night he showed why he was drafted there by Brad Holmes. He's the leading rusher on the team and is averaging 5.3 yards per attempt. He's added 165 yards through the air, for a grand total of 564 scrimmage yards through six games, putting him third all-time in franchise history between
But, he's not the only occupier of the backfield. The Lions signed Montgomery in the offseason and he's been just as good. Though down for the last few weeks due to injury, he's still amassed nearly 400 yards rushing and six touchdowns. The backfield of the Lions is formidable and should be a scary matchup for anyone in the second half and into the playoffs. Health is the only concern.
Overall Grade: A
Jared Goff would not be able to do what he does without this cast of characters being the targets he's throwing to. St. Brown is a top-10 receiver with a minimum of 44 snaps, Josh Reynolds has only two drops in 30 targets, and though he's struggled with drops Jameson Williams is getting into the flow of the offense. Overall this unit is like the running backs and the quarterback, they're solid and talented and really make this offense really, really good. Jameson's slow development does knock their grade a bit, however.
Overall Grade: B+
Sam LaPorta is the man. He's averaging 10.1 yards per catch and only four drops in 59 targets. He's also turned in good marks in his blocking grades and has been an absolute impact on offense. Brock Wright has been more of a role-filler but is as needed as the stars. Mitchell for his efforts hasn't played since Green Bay as the Lions have rolled with two tight ends. The production they've gotten from their tight ends in the passing game has expanded the passing attack and paid dividends in the run game.
Overall Grade: A
Led by their bookends Penei Sewell and Taylor Decker the offensive line is the backbone of this offense. Even with a makeshift interior line against the Las Vegas Raiders, the line held up well and kept Goff upright while opening a ton of holes for Gibbs. Overall, the Lions' offensive line grades out second-best in pass blocking and third-best in run blocking in the league, which plays into their high grade here. Even with their depth being tested, they're standing tall and performing well.
Overall Grade: A+
Detroit Lions midseason grades: Defense
The biggest question mark on the Lions in the offseason was their defense, and rightfully so. It was often said last season that had their defense been even mid-level they'd have been a playoff team. Well, this year, they're a little better than mid-level. Overall, they grade out as the 14th-best defense but are top-10 in DVOA (7). There are still improvements that could be made, especially in the banged-up secondary, but they have been really good.
The Lions front was thought to be a need to be addressed this past offseason, and even the most recent trade deadline, but GM Brad Holmes chose to stand pat both times. And, while there could still be improvements along the line, Aaron Glenn has been able to scheme well enough to create a nightmare for offenses. Their biggest issue, however, is their pass-rush abilities. They've stuffed the run well, but unless Glenn brings blitzers the Lions have trouble getting home. They're currently 21st in the league in pass rush grade and hopefully with the return of James Houston, that will improve.
Overall Grade: B
The Lions' linebackers have really been the reason that the defense has made strides this season. With first-round pick Jack Campbell playing well and Alex Anzalone having one of the best seasons of his career have really made the Lions a force defensively. Others like Derrick Barnes have also taken strides which has helped this corps really lynchpin the defense.
Overall Grade: A-
The secondary was the most addressed position in the offseason and is also one of the more banged-up position groups. Both C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Emmanuel Moseley have played in very minimal games due to injury and even Jerry Jacobs missed the game in Baltimore. But Their back end with Kerby Joseph, Tracey Walker, and nickel Brian Branch have been physical and ball-hawking and they're fun to watch.
Overall Grade: B
Detroit Lions midseason grades: Special Teams
The Lions' special teams are a strong suit of the team, especially when Jack Fox is your punter. Overall they rank 12th in DVOA, which is good for the third facet of your team. With Riley Patterson having nailed down the place-kicking job, and doing a solid job, the special teams are in a place that can help flip fields, scrape out points from drives, and push this team forward.
Overall Grade: A-
The Lions are 6-2 and literally control their own destiny when it comes to the playoffs. The bigger question is what seed with be when they arrive in the postseason? While we don't want to count the chickens before they hatch, it is an exciting time around these parts watching this team. Every group graded has room for improvement and every group graded has outperformed early season expectations. Let's get the boys rested up and ready for the Los Angeles Chargers come week 10.