The Detroit Lions were crushed on the road by the New England Patriots losing 29-0. The Lions did not do anything well all game. The offensive was largely ineffective. When they did move the ball, they could not finish drives. The Lions did not score once in their 7 drives into enemy territory. On defense, it was more of the same for the Lions. The Lions only forced one punt despite playing a rookie making his first start. Here's how each position group fared in the loss.
Detroit Lions Week 5 Report Card: Offense
For the first time this season, bad Jared Goff resurfaced. Goff has been prone to ups and downs throughout his career. To start the season, he had been at the peak of his abilities, but this week, he played as bad as he ever has. The Patriots were able to pressure Goff, and he could not handle it. He was never comfortable in the pocket, and it was apparent. He was rushing throws and bailing too quickly in the pocket. The most obvious example was on fourth and 2. If he waited for a beat longer, he had a wide-open touchdown. Instead, he threw it short, and the Lions turned it over on downs.
Goff also turned the ball over twice in back-breaking fashion. In the first, Goff misread corner Jack Jones when targeting TJ Hockenson. Jones sat on the wheel route and snagged the easy interception. Goff can't make those mistakes, especially on first down in the red zone. The second was just as soul-crushing. On fourth down, Goff bailed out of the pocket and was stripped for a Patriots touchdown. Goff needs to get rid of the ball or at worst just eat the ball and take the sack. This game proved why Goff's future is up in the air. He needs to be way better when things break down. If he can't improve there, the Lions need to move on and find a true QB for the future.
Overall Grade: F
The Patriots did find a way to slow down the Lions' potent rushing attack. The running backs still put up a respectable 3.9 yards per carry. However, with how the running backs have been humming, it was a down performance in that aspect. Craig Reynolds added a big catch on a screen and put up a nice 68 receiving yards. Like all position groups, the running backs did have some costly mistakes. Reynolds had a costly mistake bouncing it outside and losing 7 yards leading up to Goff's fumble. Also, Justin Jackson had a bad offensive PI negating a touchdown. The running backs did not have a horrible game, but they have room to improve.
Overall Grade: C-
This week highlighted the importance of a healthy Amon-Ra St Brown, who played 85% of the team's snaps. Without their star, the receiving group was largely ineffective. Outside of Josh Reynolds, the receivers just did not make many plays. No one had a particularly down game, but the Lions lacked depth without St Brown, DJ Chark, and Jameson Williams. Kalif Raymond is a fine specialist, but he is better in a gadget role than as WR2. Tom Kennedy is a great lovable story, but he's not good enough to beat starting NFL DBs. This is not as concerning as other groups as the Lions just need to get healthy.
Overall Grade: D+
TJ Hockenson's rollercoaster season continues. A week after putting up a crazy stat line, Hockenson crashed to Earth. He only grabbed one pass for a measly 6 yards. With St Brown and Chark out, the Lions needed Hockenson to step up, and he did not. This was not all his fault as Goff played horribly, but Hockenson can be better as well. With his mediocre run blocking, Hockenson needs to be a consistent pass-catching option to justify a big contract this offseason.
Overall Grade: F
Matt Judon and the Patriots' defensive line took it to the Lions' offensive line. Judon was a problem beating both Taylor Decker and Peneii Sewell for sacks. On top of that, he was generating pressure all day and harassing Goff. The entire offensive line struggled to keep the pocket clean for Goff. For the first time this year, the offensive line was soundly beaten, and Goff and the rest of the offense struggled because of it.
Overall Grade: D
Overall Grade for Offense: F
Detroit Lions Week 5 Report Card: Defense & Special Teams
Once again, the Lions were unable to generate any pressure. Playing a young quarterback, the Lions needed to find a way to get to him and completely failed. Even when they did, they could not make any plays like when Aidan Hutchinson whiffed on an easy sack. One slight positive is the play of Isaiah Buggs. Buggs made a nice play and got a sack which was negated by an illegal contact, but a nice play by him. On top of that, he and Alim McNeill form a nice run-stuffing duo in the middle. That is nice, but if the Lions can't figure out a way to generate a pass rush, the Lions' defense will continue to be hapless.
Overall Grade: D
Another really weak game against the run for the Lions. The Lions are good against runs up the middle but struggle against everything else. Rhamondre Stevenson gashed the Lions all game picking up 161 yards on 6.4 yards a carry. Without the true threat of a passing game, the linebackers should have keyed on the run game to shut it down. Even then, they could not stop Stevenson as he ran all over the Lions. If Derrick Barnes and Alex Anzalone don't step up, the Lions will be looking for their replacements this off-season.
Overall Grade: D
The Lions tried to mix it up this week, starting Savion Smith, AJ Parker, and Will Harris for the first time this year. Once the game started, the secondary was rocked with injuries. Smith, Okudah, DeShon Elliot, and Ifeatu Melifonwu all left with injuries at some point in the game. It got so bad that at one point, rookie cornerback Chase Lucas was playing safety. Honestly, the group performed well given the circumstances.
The sore spot in the game was Okudah's struggles. He was beaten a couple of times for some big plays. On top of that, he was called for 2 DPIs. One of them was a horrible call, but on the other, he was in a good position and was too grabby. All corners are going to have rough games, so hopefully, Okudah can bounce back and continue his strong play.
Overall Grade: D+
Special teams were the only unit that had a good day. Maurice Alexander had a nice 47-yard return giving the offense good field position. Jack Fox proved Bill Belicheck right, with 2 nice punts and one inside the 20. Unfortunately, the Lions did not get to use new kicker Michael Badgley as Dan Campbell remained aggressive on 4th down. It's fair to wonder if Campbell trusts Badgley as he chose to go for it on 4th and 9 instead of kicking a 50-yard field goal. We'll never know if Badgley would have made the kick, but special teams did their job when called on.
Overall Grade: B+
Overall Grade for Defense and Special Teams: D
Easily, this week was the worst performance by the coaching staff in their two years. Campbell was outclassed by Bill Belicheck all game. The Lions could not get any rhythm going on offense. Campbell and Ben Johnson could not figure out the Patriots' defense all game. It seemed like whenever they were having mild success, they would stop doing what was working and stall out the drive. Defensively, once again, the Lions could not take away any part of the offensive game plan. The Lions should have devoted all resources to stopping the run and easy passes like screens to make Zappe beat them. They did not do that, and Bailey Zappe got an easy first win.
Campbell also needs to figure out 4th down decision-making. The Lions went for it 6 times and did not convert a single one. It is good to be aggressive on fourth down especially as the Lions still lack talent. However, Campbell needs to get a better feel for the game. The Lions may have benefited by getting 3 points and getting something positive on the scoreboard. If they had done that early, could it have prevented some of the snowballing? Maybe, maybe not, but without a doubt, Campbell's decision-making kept points off the board.
Overall Grade: F
This game was a total stinker for the Lions. Luckily, after this dud, the Lions have the bye week to regroup after a rough 3 weeks. The Lions need to spend the time getting healthy, but more importantly, doing a lot of self-scouting. Everyone needs to take a long look in the mirror and figure out how to go forward from here.
The offense needs to become more consistent especially when St Brown and D'Andre Swift are out or game planned against. Defensively, everything needs to be improved, but particularly, the Lions need to figure out some sort of pass rush. Finally, the coaches also need to improve as well. Campbell needs to grow as a game manager big time. There is no book he can read, but Campbell needs to talk with other coaches or whatever to improve his game feel. If he doesn't, it will continue to cost the Lions game, and eventually, it will cost him his job.