Quick reads: Agnew, Jones take off; Lions' run game slows down
Nolan Bianchi of The Detroit News has three quick reads on the Lions’ 27-24 win over the Chargers on Sunday:
Jones' big day
Veteran receiver Marvin Jones Jr. had his first big game of the season. The eighth-year wideout hauled in six passes for 101 yards and a touchdown, picking up the slack for a normally sure-handed Kenny Golladay, who brought in just two of the eight passes sent his way.
Jones' big day wasn't just a matter of total volume — it was about consistency. His first catch was a diving, 20-yard completion on Detroit's opening drive, his final catch an 18-yard grab that allowed the Lions to keep their drive moving and burn some clock late in the fourth. Four of his six catches went for a first down, with another giving the Lions a two-score lead in the fourth quarter.
Happy returns for Agnew
The status of Jamal Agnew was largely unknown throughout much of the week, as the former All-Pro returner was relieved of his duties during last week's win over the Chargers for muffing his second punt in as many weeks.
He silenced critics in a big way — and in a hurry — by returning Philadelphia's first kickoff of the day 100 yards for a Lions touchdown. The most surprising part of Agnew's touchdown was that it wasn't called back for a block in the back, marking the start of what turned out to be a rather positive day by the Lions' special teams, which as a whole looked downright awful through two weeks.
The special teams would receive higher praise for Sunday's performance, but a fourth-quarter Matt Prater field goal was easily blocked by Malcolm Jenkins and it nearly cost Detroit the game. Agnew's role as a punt returner was restored in the fourth quarter, where he ripped off a 24-yard return in his first shot.
Run game woes
Kerryon Johnson has yet to have a breakout game under new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. The second-year back out of Auburn struggled again in Sunday's win, averaging a measly 1.8 yards per carry on 20 carries. Not much of that is Johnson's fault, as the positive yardage he did gain against the Eagles was usually a result of him making a defender miss in the backfield.
The pass protection has been solid, as Sunday's win in Philadelphia marked the second consecutive week that the Lions' offensive line didn't give up a sack. But Detroit's ineffectiveness in the run game has failed to open up a more complete passing game. Not only that, but the Lions' running woes have hampered their ability to close out games.
With 6:59 remaining, Detroit got the ball with a 3-point lead and the chance to close out the game with a solid drive. Kerryon Johnson and Ty Johnson combined for a yard on three carries, resulting in a Lions punt. Then, after getting it in Philadelphia territory and 2:18 on the clock, Kerryon Johnson was stopped for no gain on first down and second down before the Lions eventually settled for a field goal, which was blocked.
While Kerryon Johnson's final stats were dismal, the Lions' team rushing in the fourth quarter was downright embarrassing: Nine rushes for minus-1 yard. That won't be good enough in December and needs to be addressed.