Lions' first-half observations: Offensive woes continue vs. Ravens

Nolan Bianchi
The Detroit News

Detroit — Well, the Lions have officially gone four straight quarters without a point.

This might come as a surprise to someone who watched the first half of last Monday’s loss in Green Bay, but their struggles against the Ravens on Sunday have largely been a continuation of what plagued them in the second half of their 35-17 loss to the Packers.

Lions quarterback Jared Goff (16) watches from the field against the Ravens in the first half Sunday at Ford Field.

For starters, Jared Goff has not been good.

Goff showed some signs that he might be in for a long day on the opening drive — and really, the opening play, when he missed an open Kalif Raymond on a comeback route that would have immediately moved the chains. An uncatchable ball to Darren Fells on third-and-11 ultimately ended that opening drive.

He’s just 8-for-15 with 58 passing yards.

In Goff’s defense, though, his line isn’t giving him nearly as much time to throw as it was in the first half on Monday night. 

The run game has been effective — Swift has 35 yards on just five carries and Jamaal Williams has 30 on 5 — but it’s hard to believe that the Lions will get to use it frequently in the second half, especially if the Ravens are able to get a quick score out of the locker room. Should the Lions get a stop, though, they’d be wise to lean on that run game as much as they can in the final two quarters.

Price is right, the rest of secondary is wrong

The entire Lions defense held up rather strongly in the first half — at least until the last two drives (we’ll get to that later) — but it was the play of a young buck at corner that continues to impress.

Second-year cornerback Bobby Price got the start and made a terrific play to knock down one of the Ravens’ longest passing attempt of the half, swatting a shot to Sammy Watkins down the sideline in the second quarter. He broke up another pass to the end zone on second-and-18, late in the second quarter, and then talked a little bit of smack with the Ravens quarterback. He’s feeling himself, and rightfully so. He also had two tackles.

Elsewhere, the Lions secondary better buckle up, or it’s going to be a very long second half.

Jackson has completed just a handful of deep passes on the Lions, but it’s through no real fault of his own that he doesn’t have at least 200 yards passing. Marquise Brown blatantly dropped two surefire touchdown passes on the Ravens’ final drive of the first half, and there’s no reason to believe that the Lions’ secondary won’t continue to break down. 

The Lions are at a similar juncture here as they were Monday night in Green Bay after 30 minutes. They’ve done a pretty good job of keeping an MVP quarterback contained, but overwhelming evidence says they can only do it for so long.

The difference, of course, being that the Lions had a lead at halftime on Monday night.

New guys at linebacker 

Lions linebacker Jamie Collins was inactive after the organization made it clear they were looking to trade him earlier this week, and the two guys tabbed to replace him have made their presence felt early.

Jalen Reeves-Maybin, the fifth-year veteran, dropped Devonta Freeman for a loss of 2 on third down of the Ravens’ opening drive.

Derrick Barnes made his first tackle of the game on a second-and-8 situation midway through the first quarter, helping Romeo Okwara in pursuit of Freeman. Moments later, it was Barnes teaming up with Tracy Walker to bring down Lamar Jackson for no gain. Other than that, he hasn't been much of a difference-maker.

The Lions aren’t getting scorched over the middle anywhere near as bad as they were at times over the first two weeks, but again, it’s not crazy to think that could change over the next two quarters.

Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.