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Detroit Lions: Week 7 Report Card

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The Detroit Lions continued their losing streak falling to the Dallas Cowboys 24-6. Coming off the bye week, the Lions defense looked much improved, only giving up 10 points until the last three minutes of the game and a few Lions turnovers. Unfortunately, the Detroit Lions' shorthanded offense could not hold up their end of the bargain. The Lions turned the ball over five times and failed to score a touchdown. Another disappointing game, as only one side of the ball, showed up, leading to a loss. Here is how each group graded out in another one-sided game.

Detroit Lions Offense: D

Quarterback: F

After a strong start to the season, Jared Goff has strung together a few awful starts. Once again, Goff's warts showed up big time, costing the Detroit Lions the game. Simply, Goff needs to be better at taking care of the ball. Goff threw two interceptions, one of them on 2nd and 2 with no pressure. In a favorable down and distance, Goff cannot make that throw.

He also showed his struggles against pressure. Goff gave away two fumbles as he could not escape pressure and coughed up the ball. Plus, as seen below, Goff had Kalif Raymond open on a long pass, but he faded in the pocket into pressure and was sacked. Goff's pocket awareness is poor, and he does not have the athleticism to break out of sacks. That in itself could be a death blow, but pair that with his inability to hold on to the ball, and it does not look promising for Goff's future. Goff has shown that he can be incredibly effective in the right circumstances, but he cannot continue to have these horrendous valleys if he wants to be a starter in the NFL.

Running back: C

With D'Andre Swift out again, Jamaal Williams was thrust into starting duty again. As usual, Williams stepped in and was productive. He picked up 79 yards on an efficient 5.3 yards a carry. Williams doesn't bring the dynamic element that Swift provides in the run-and-pass game, but he can churn out effective runs. Obviously, with Williams, the game's biggest play will bring him down. On a 1st and goal from the one down 4, Williams gave away his first career fumble, and the Detroit Lions were unable to recover from there. If he punches it in there, it would be a totally different game that the Detroit Lions could've ended up on top. That play brings down the grade, but outside of that, a good performance in relief by Williams.

Wide Receiver: D+

This group was short-handed without DJ Chark and Amon-Ra St Brown, and it showed on the field. The group was largely ineffective in the game, failing to make any plays. Kalif Raymond had a nice performance grabbing five passes for 75 yards, but no one else had over 15 yards. The receivers' struggles can largely be blamed on Goff's ineffectiveness, but they did not do much to improve their grades.

Tight Ends: B

While the receivers failed to have an impact, the tight end group had a solid day against the Cowboys. T.J. Hockenson had 48 yards in a solid performance. On top of that, TE 2 Brock Wright stepped up, grabbing all 4 of his targets for 57 yards. Wright's game could have been even bigger, but he was brought down half a yard from scoring the go-ahead touchdown in the second half. If he got an extra half-step, it would have capped off a great “National Tight End Day”, and potentially led to a win.

Offensive Line: B-

On Sunday, the offensive line had its hands full with one of the best defensive lines in football. Despite giving up five sacks, the Lions' line held their own, as several could be attributed to Goff, RBs, and TEs getting beat. One of the biggest bright spots of the game was Peneii Sewell. Going up against stud Micah Parsons, Peneii did not get beat by one of the best edge rushers in the league. A great performance by a building block for the Detroit Lions' future. The pass protection did falter at the end of the game, which can't happen. But the Cowboys' defense is one of the best, especially if they can pin their ears back and rush the passer. In a putrid performance by the offense, not much blame can be placed on the play of the line.

Detroit Lions

Detroit Lions Defense: A-

Defensive Line: B

The defensive line still struggles at consistently winning 1-on-1s, but Sunday was a strong step in the right direction. Rookie Aidan Hutchinson easily had his best game. He beat both tackles a few times and showed some great moves to get to the passer. The result was 1.5 sacks and also 1 QB hit and hurry (per PFF). Another rookie, Josh Paschal, had a big impact in his first game of the year. Paschal looked quick and strong as he made some really nice plays against the run. If the rookie defensive ends continue like this, they can prove they both could be building blocks in the defensive rebuild.

Linebackers: B-

The Detroit Lions linebackers continued their trend for 2022. They did a pretty good job in the run game, limiting Ezekiel Elliot to only 3.8 YPC. Both Malcolm Rodriguez and Alex Anzalone were big contributors there, doing a great job tackling good Dallas running backs. However, they did struggle in pass coverage, specifically Anzalone. Dalton Schultz racked up 49 yards and also drew a third-down holding on Anzalone. A solid performance by the group, but to get to the next level, the Lions need better coverage.

Defensive Backs: A-

The biggest positive of the game was easily Jeff Okudah. Against the run-heavy Cowboys, Okudah played a new role as a hybrid safety/nickel/linebacker role, and the results were great. Okudah did a great job fitting the run as he racked up 15 tackles and one TFL. On top of that, he only gave up 22 yards receiving on the day (per PFF). A tremendous day for Okudah in a new creative role.

Outside of Okudah, it was a good day for the defensive backs. Kerby Joseph looked much better in his 3rd start. He did drop an interception, but he had a big forced fumble and looked much more comfortable. For a rookie who did not play much in college, it is promising to see him make strides already. The rest of the unit was solid, as they limited Dak Prescott to only 207 yards on the day.

Special Teams: C

In good news, Michael Badgley had his first two kicks as a Lion, including a 53-yarder. Hopefully, he keeps this up and settles the kicker position. Otherwise, the rest of the special teams' units looked solid. The only negative was giving up a 52-yard punt return. Luckily, the defense recovered and didn't give up points, but with the lack of talent, the Lions can't afford to give up chunks on special teams.

Coaching: B+

Despite the loss, the Detroit Lions coaching staff had a strong showing off the bye. Aaron Glenn especially did a great job putting his players in roles to succeed. Okudah and Hutchinson are shining examples of that. He put them both in new positions, and they both shined. Ben Johnson‘s unit did not have the same success as Glenn's, but that wasn't completely on him. The offense was able to move the ball but failed to score either due to turnovers or stalling out. Some of that can be attributed to the players.

After struggling against the Patriots, Dan Campbell did not have any glaring game management issues. My one small gripe with Campell was at the end of the first half. After forcing a fumble, the Lions had a few nice runs and were at their own 15 with about 1:15 left. Instead of running out the clock, the Lions could have been aggressive and aimed for at least a field goal with three timeouts. It may have resulted in nothing, but on the road, the Lions should have been aggressive to get all the total points possible.

Final Thoughts

A bummer of a loss for the Detroit Lions as they finally had the defensive performance they had been waiting for all year. The young guys on the defensive end stepped up big time, and the defense looked actually good. However, without St Brown and Swift, the offense could not get anything going. Their top playmakers were out, and the turnovers were just too much to overcome. For the rest of the year, the Lions need to hope their young defensive players keep playing well and the offense improves with health.

All stats via ESPN, unless noted

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