Justin Rogers’ Lions grades: Poor marks for putrid game

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is crushed by the Bears' Cornelius Washington late in the fourth quarter on Sunday in Chicago.

Chicago – Justin Rogers grades the Detroit Lions' performance in Sunday's  17-14 loss to the Chicago Bears.


Matthew Stafford has had better games. He had to deal with some pressure, but certainly not an extraordinary amount. Still, he wasn’t able to effectively operate much beyond the short areas. The veteran quarterback made multiple mistakes, throwing a pass beyond the line of scrimmage, misfiring behind Theo Riddick on a third-down play and wide of tight end Eric Ebron on a pass that was picked in the fourth quarter, ending a potential scoring drive.  Grade: D

Running backs

The team never seemed committed to establishing the ground game and when they did hand it off, running room was sparse for the backs, who managed a combined 49 yards on 16 carries. After getting stuffed for a loss because of poor blocking on a goal line carry, Zach Zenner flashed with a 10-yard run and a 22-yard reception on Detroit’s ensuing possession. Grade: D+

Wide receivers

Golden Tate’s disastrous start to the season hit a low point when he ran the wrong route at the end of the first half, resulting in an interception. He finished with just one catch for one yard, to go with a successful two-point conversion catch. Marvin Jones led the group once again, hauling in five balls for 74 yards. He also dropped one. Anquan Boldin had a team-high six grabs, but gained just 31 yards. On the flip side, four of those catches resulted in a first down. Grade: D

Bumbling performance vs. Bears drops Lions to 1-3

Tight ends

Ebron continues to battle through multiple injuries, but that doesn’t excuse his blunders against the Bears. He dropped an early third-down pass that would have given the Lions a first down. He also committed two penalties, a false start and holding infraction. Catching four passes for 42 yards is not enough to offset the mistakes.  Grade: D-

Offensive line

The pass protection was acceptable, allowing two sacks and no other quarterback knockdowns, but where were the run lanes? The Lions had two cracks from near the goal line and couldn’t power it in, settling for a field goal, which proved to be the difference. Additionally, the line committed three penalties, including two holding infractions.  Grade: D

Defensive line

The pass rush was non-existent once again. Sure, Kerry Hyder recorded another sack, and that’s a nice story, but Bears quarterback Brian Hoyer had way too much time to operate in the pocket, allowing the veteran to post the second-best passer rating of his career. If that wasn’t bad enough, rookie running back Jordan Howard churned out 111 yards on 23 carries.  Grade: F


The linebackers share some culpability in Howard’s performance, but the group showed some improvement in coverage. Are we grading on a curve compared to some of the awful performances earlier this season? Maybe. Bears tight end Zach Miller was limited to a season-low three catches, but there was yet another zone coverage breakdown involving rookie Antwione Williams, resulting in a wide open touchdown. Grade: D+


The worst play came on a stumble, when nickel Quandre Diggs lost his footing, allowing Eddie Royal to catch and run for 64 yards to set up the Bears’ game-winning touchdown. That came one play after Diggs had made an impressive stop for a loss. Darius Slay had a pretty nice day, recording his first career sack to go with three pass breakups. Grade: C-

Special teams

Andre Roberts’ 85-yard punt return for a touchdown was the Lions’ best play of the day. Matt Prater made both of his field goals, including a 50-yarder to get the team on the board. And Sam Martin had another strong day punting the ball, although he didn’t get an ideal strike on the onside kick, ending hopes of a rally. Grade: B


For the third consecutive week, we’re failing the coaches. The Lions came out embarrassingly flat in a game they needed to win against an opponent that had been struggling and banged-up coming into the matchup. The defense showed some improvement, but given the caliber of the competition, it should have been more. There’s no excuse for Hoyer and Howard having such efficient performances.  Offensively, Detroit was putrid. The offense showed could never establish rhythm and flamed out whenever the Lions got within sight of the end zone. Grade: F