Justin Rogers' Lions grades: Almost no passing marks in opening rout

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Detroit — Justin Rogers grades the Detroit Lions' performance in Monday’s 48-17 loss to the New York Jets.


We haven’t seen Matthew Stafford play this poorly in a couple years, dating to an early-season benching in a loss to the Arizona Cardinals. I don’t want to excuse the other guilty parties, we’ll get to them, but the franchise passer reverted to some bad habits that had seemingly been extinguished at this stage of his career — gunning into non-existent windows, telegraphing throws and missing defenders in the passing lane. The result, four interceptions and his worst passer rating at home since his rookie season.  Grade: F

Robby Anderson (11) holds on to the ball to score a touchdown despite the efforts of Lions defensive back Tavon Wilson in the first quarter. For those counting, after the interception, Sam Darnold completed 16 of his final 20 throws.

Running backs

The Lions’ invested heavily in the ground game this offseason, so LeGarrette Blount losing seven yards on the first carry was symbolic of the disappointment. He finished with minus-3 yards on four carries, before he was knocked from the game with an undisclosed injury. Rookie Kerryon Johnson looked OK, in limited action, but certainly not enough to rescue the overall mark. Grade: D-

Wide receivers

Kenny Golladay might have been Detroit’s lone bright spot. The second-year receiver let one deep ball slip through his hands early, but routinely found himself open and on the receiving end of Stafford targets, finishing with seven catches for 112 yards. Also, props are deserved for punching the ball free from the defender after an interception and falling on the fumble, giving the ball back to the Lions.

Golden Tate also had a drop, but ran a crisp out-and-up route for a big gain, setting up his 24-yard touchdown later in the drive. Marvin Jones had two deep throws hit him in the hands, before hitting the ground, limiting him to 54 yards on eight targets. Grade: C-

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Tight ends

As one colleague said coming off the elevator postgame, “I’m sure the tight ends played, I just don’t remember seeing them.” The group was a non-factor in the passing game and certainly wasn't effective blocking on the outside for the running backs or Stafford. Collectively, the four tight ends were targeted four times, catching a pair of passes for a whopping 12 yards. And Michael Roberts’ false start to begin the second half was almost comical. Grade: F

Offensive line

No group has received more attention from general manager Bob Quinn, but despite a relatively low hit count on Stafford (four and no sacks), the quarterback rarely had much time to process his throws. And where were the run lanes? Once again, the troubling trend of backs getting hit behind the line was too often an issue. Grade: D-

Defensive line

There was a modicum of pass-rush pressure early, including a Ziggy Ansah sack, but it dried up before the end of the first half. Even more troubling was the run defense, which couldn’t set a reliable edge to save its life. The Jets ran all over the Lions, including a 62-yard touchdown where Isaiah Crowell came through the initial level with ease. Grade: F


Devon Kennard led the Lions with six tackles and a sack, which isn’t bad for a guy playing on the line of scrimmage, but he was part of the edge-setting issues. Jarrad Davis and the rest of the crew weren’t anywhere close to effective, overall. Davis’ coverage woes showed up again when he was beat for a third-down reception. All linebackers not named Kennard combined for eight tackles.  Grade: F


If it wasn’t for Quandre Diggs opening the game with a pick-six, the secondary would get a failing mark, too. Believe it or not, despite a rookie quarterback making his debut, the interception was the only pass the Lions got their hands on. For those counting, after the interception, Sam Darnold completed 16 of his final 20 throws. Grade: D

Special teams

Andre Roberts, the former Lions return man, had himself a day against porous coverage. He returned one punt 43 yards, setting up a touchdown, then took another to the house himself, dancing along the sideline for the 78-yard score.

Detroit, on the other hand, got nothing out of its return game. And Matt Prater missed two field goals, one because of a bad snap and another because he pulled it wide. Grade: F


Embarrassing. There’s no other way to put it. We were sold on the idea that the preseason meant nothing, but the pass-rush struggles, the inability to stop the run and the poor offensive execution all lingered into the opener against the Jets. Despite a grueling training camp and the mantra that hard work will pay off, the Lions somehow looked thoroughly unprepared. The cherry on top, Jets defenders said the Lions were tipping their plays. Grade: F