Justin Rogers' Lions grades: Ugly outing for David Blough, secondary
Detroit — Justin Rogers grades the Detroit Lions' performance after Sunday's 38-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
We get it, David Blough is an undrafted rookie being asked to keep a depleted offense afloat, but his production isn't cutting it. With three first-quarter possessions, the Lions mustered a measly yard. Through the first half, the offense netted one or fewer first downs on five of the six series. And when it looked like the team might to be able to establish a little momentum coming out of the break, Blough sailed a pass that was intercepted.
Despite all that, the Lions did claw their way back into the game. But with a chance to tie it late in the fourth quarter, Blough tossed another pick, this one coming back for a touchdown. Grade: F
Wes Hills managed to score two touchdowns in his debut on a pair of third-and-goal plunges from a yard out. But outside of a 15-yard carry in the fourth quarter, he managed 6 yards with his other nine carries. And on the touchdowns, the ball security looked shaky, with the ball popping free just after he crossed the goal line on both scores.
Beyond Hills, Detroit's backs combined for 29 yards on nine touches. That's not enough to take any pressure off Blough. Grade: D-
Wide receivers/tight ends
With Marvin Jones out, Danny Amendola stepped up and caught eight passes for 102 yards. His 46-yard grab in the third quarter, setting up Detroit's first touchdown, was an improbable catch through tight coverage and pass interference by the corner.
Kenny Golladay struggled to find room to operate, finishing with three catches for 44 yards on seven targets. Meanwhile, tight end Jesse James had his most productive day in a Lions uniform, but it's doubtful anyone is celebrating three grabs for 31 yards that were paired with a couple drops. Grade: C-
The Lions never really got going on the ground, averaging 2 yards on the backs' 13 carries. As for Blough's protection, it was average at best. He was sacked only twice, but absorbed another four hits behind the line and was forced to scramble on five occasions. Grade: D+
The Lions had another good day against the run, limiting the Buccaneers to 49 yards on 29 carries. The pass rush was less consistent. The front four did hit quarterback Jameis Winston five times, including a pair of sacks, but too often they left enough time for the opposition to do damage on longer-developing routes. Grade: C
On the first series of the game, Jalen Reeves-Maybin got beat for a long reception before Jahlani Tavai intercepted a pass ending the drive. That summed up the linebackers' day perfectly — a little good, a little bad, an overall neutral performance. Grade: C
Time and time again, Winston picked apart Detroit's secondary downfield for big gains, including four touchdowns of 25 yards or longer. It was a group failure as Will Harris, Rashaan Melvin, Amani Oruwariye and Tracy Walker each got beat on those scoring strikes.
Additionally, Tampa Bay's top receiver, Chris Godwin, didn't score, but he paced the team with 121 yards on five grabs. Grade: F
A bright spot in defeat. Punter Sam Martin was at his best and averaged 51.6 yards on his boots, with one skipping into the end zone the lone negative on his day. Matt Prater only had the opportunity to kick one field goal, but he knocked home the 44-yard effort without issue in the second quarter. Grade: A-
A second straight sluggish start put the Lions in a nasty hole they weren't able to climb out of. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell has a huge challenge and can't seem to find a way to curb the number of three-and-outs on the side of the ball where he's responsible.
The defense wasn't much better out the gate, and after they allowed two long touchdown drives, coach Matt Patricia held a full-unit meeting on the sideline. His message didn't sink in immediately, as the defense allowed another long scoring drive. But they settled down after that and played well, especially after making some halftime adjustments.
It's a moral victory no one cares about after seven straight losses, but once again, the Lions didn't fold despite a huge hole and a rash of injuries to key players. This team does fight until the bitter end, even though they're clearly not talented enough to get the job done. Grade: C-