Justin Rogers' Lions grades: Failing marks all around for disastrous day
Minneapolis — Justin Rogers grades the Detroit Lions' performance in their 20-7 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
After an impressive debut, David Blough looked the part of an undrafted rookie in his second start. The final stat line is far from good, with 205 yards on 40 pass attempts, but even that is a wildly inflated representation of reality. The majority of his production came in the fourth quarter, when the Vikings were sitting on a lead and playing soft coverage.
Blough showed poor pocket awareness, unnecessarily taking multiple sacks instead of throwing the ball away, and the first of his two interceptions was an awful throw under duress. Grade: F
The Lions gave Bo Scarbrough plenty of opportunities, but he didn't do much with them, gaining 65 yards on 19 carries. At the very least, most of those were positive gains, but his long was seven yards and he got stuffed on a third-and-1.
The rest of the rotation didn't contribute much either. Ty Johnson and J.D. McKissic combined for five yards on three carries, and McKissic's four receptions netted just 16 yards, with none resulting in a first down. Grade: D+
Wide receivers/tight ends
Kenny Golladay caught his NFL-leading 10th touchdown, but it came in garbage time. In fact, four of his six receptions came in the final 5:10 when the Vikings were conceding short throws.
Danny Amendola chipped in five grabs, including three first-down catches, but only 34 total yards. And tight end Jesse James continues to disappoint as a free-agent addition, catching a single pass, late in the game, in the team's first week since losing T.J. Hockenson to a season-ending ankle injury.
James was also beat for a sack, although he never should have been asked to block Danielle Hunter one-on-one in the first place. Grade: D
Blough deserves plenty of blame for the sacks, but the offensive line didn't exactly provide him great time in the pocket. Hunter got the best of Rick Wagner twice before the right tackle exited with a knee injury, while Everson Griffen, the other half of the Vikings' dynamic edge-rushing tandem, also got home once for a sack.
The holes in the ground game were few and far between and it's hardly Scarbrough's fault he was hit in the backfield on third-and-short. Grade: D+
The Lions did a nice job limiting the efficiency of the Vikings' ground game. Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison saw a heavy workload, but managed just 108 yards on 32 carries.
Detroit's pass rush, on the other hand, was nearly punchless. Trey Flowers recorded the team's lone sack and the front four didn't register another hit on Kirk Cousins, who had all the time he needed to pick apart the secondary. Grade: D+
The linebackers played their part in stopping the Vikings' ground game and the opposing backs only had one big play in the pass game, when the Vikings put Jarrad Davis in conflict with his coverage responsibility and Cousins connected with fullback C.J. Ham for a 25-yard pickup.
The worst part of the linebacking performances was penalties, as both Jahlani Tavai and Christian Jones got hit with 15-yard flags for lowering their helmets on hits. Grade: D+
Amani Oruwariye got the start, despite Rashaan Melvin being back, and the rookie was beat for a touchdown on a crossing pattern in the first quarter. Darius Slay was directly responsible for the Vikings' other touchdown, getting toasted for a long completion at the end of the first half, setting Cook up for a short scoring scamper.
In total, Cousins completed 85 percent of his throws in the first half and 80 percent on the day. Grade: D
Sam Martin punted well and the coverage units were decent, resulting in a net average over 43 yards for the punter. Kicker Matt Prater didn't do his job, though, missing his long field goal attempt. He nearly missed an extra point, as well, clanking it in off the upright. Grade: C-
At some level, it's fair to ask what the staff was supposed to do with this matchup. The Lions were outmanned on the road and everyone knew it, including Vegas, which had the Vikings favored by double-digits throughout the week.
Statistically, the defense did OK, but that's at least in part due to the Vikings putting it in cruise control in the second half. It was Detroit's offense that was most problematic this week. Yes, it's a lot to expect Blough to perform well against an experienced and tenacious Vikings front, but five three-and-out possessions and two turnovers is a disastrous day, any way you slice it. Grade: D