Lions grades: Plenty of Fs to go around in loss to Vikings
Detroit — Justin Rogers grades the Detroit Lions' performance in their 27-9 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
It has felt impossible to grade Matthew Stafford the past month. The excuses are built-in, from injuries to personnel, but he's also doing nothing to elevate the team around him. For the second time in three games, he finished with fewer than 120 passing yards, averaging an ugly 3.7 yards per pass attempt against the Vikings. And after the game, he admitted he had a role in some of the atrocious first-half calls that contributed to keeping the Lions out of the end zone. Grade: F
LeGarrette Blount had another miserable performance, averaging under three yards per carry once again, plus dropping a pair of passes. He's unquestionably been one of the season's biggest disappointments. Theo Riddick wasn't any better, touching the ball seven times and gaining five yards. He's well on his way to playing himself out of a spot on Detroit's roster in 2019. The only redeeming outing came from Zach Zenner, who managed a respectable 45 yards on eight carries. How he wasn't featured more in the game plan is beyond me. Grade: D
Wide receivers/tight ends
Kenny Golladay and TJ Jones combined for 12 catches and 100 yards, but we can't gloss over the fact that Golladay was targeted 15 times for his 58 yards. He dropped one and also committed two penalties. No one else from the group had more than one reception or 12 yards. Grade: D
The ground game was inconsistent and the Vikings mustered 12 tackles for loss, eight quarterback hits and three sacks. A few of those negative plays came out on the perimeter on passing plays, but the front didn't get enough push after a promising start on the game's opening possession. Grade: D-
For the better part of the first half, Detroit's front was dominant. The Vikings couldn't get anything going on the ground and the Lions came up with a pair of sacks, including one from Romeo Okwara, who now has a team-high 7.5 on the year. But the front didn't finish quite as strongly, with no pressure on Kirk Cousins' Hail Mary at the end of the first half and more leaks against the run after A'Shawn Robinson went out with a knee injury. Grade: C
Jarrad Davis and Christian Jones tallied five tackles apiece, but neither player had a splash play. No turnovers, no sacks, no tackles for loss, no meaningful pass-rush pressure. The same can be said for the typically productive edge defender Devon Kennard. Grade: D
Cousins threw 28 passes and the Lions didn't get their hands on any of them. Darius Slay busted a coverage in the second quarter, resulting in a 40-yard gain and leading to the Vikings' first touchdown. Additionally, no one was in position to make a play on the Hail Mary, while Glover Quin surrendered a second-half touchdown out of play-action in what have been his final game at Ford Field. Grade: F
There was some good and some bad with the special teams. Andy Jones and Tracy Walker combined to down a punt at the 2 early in the contest, and the Lions nearly blocked a Vikings punt, contributing to great field position on a drive that netted a field goal. Speaking of field goals, Matt Prater was a perfect 3-for-3 on the day.
The setbacks came in the form of a muffed punt by the returning Jamal Agnew and Walker obliterating the return man before the ball arrived, a critical 15-yard penalty that jump-started the Hail Mary drive. Grade: C+
The play-calling on offensive was far too predictable and conservative, particularly once the Lions worked into Vikings territory. Week after week, the team has shown it has no idea how to succeed with its current personnel.
Defensively, the Lions came out playing very well, but once things started to unravel, the coaching staff struggled to get the team refocused. The Hail Mary at the end of the first half seemed to drain the team's energy and confidence, on both sides of the ball. Grade: F