All week long, Detroit Lions fans have been hoping for a Christmas miracle. After starting the season with a 1-6 record, by the time the calendar hit December 25, the Lions could find themselves in playoff places.Heck, even the Eagles lost!
But the Lions couldn’t handle their own business. In fact, they rarely showed up. The Carolina Panthers got it from the opening whistle.In Dan Campbell’s own words— “An absolute butt kick.”
Saturday had some standouts, but I mostly agree with Campbell’s assessment. Let’s take a closer look at the report card for week 16.
It’s hard to blame Jared Goff for this. With no running his game to help him take the pressure off, Goff completed 25 of his 42 passes for 355 yards and his three runs scored. He was able to effectively push the ball downfield and connected on some deep shots.His 8.45 yards/pass was the seventh-highest this week, among quarterbacks who have thrown 25 or more times. he was the third highest.
That said, failed snaps turned out to be very costly. The Lions had an early opportunity to take the lead. This could certainly change the trajectory of the rest of the game. Whether it’s Goff’s fault or center Frank Ragno’s fault is debatable, but ultimately it’s up to Goff to keep the ball from hitting the ground.
Still, this was a very solid game overall. Goff has shown his toughness by scoring several big hits and continued to maintain his presence in solid pockets, accomplishing all of that while breaking down cold tales.
Running back: D
Jamal Williams and Dandre Swift combined for 23 yards on 11 carries, neither of which was fundamentally a factor in their receiving games.
The Lions’ rushing offense has been more or less dead the last few weeks, and while the offensive line certainly isn’t improving the situation, Detroit’s back isn’t running confidently. Any Tackle. In fact, for the entire season, the Lions ranked tied for 26th in contact yards per rush (1.4) in running games.
Simply put, Lions need more.
Tight end: B+
Shane Zylstra is one of probably two or three players who can keep their heads high in Saturday’s performance. Only he had 29 snaps and Zilstra had 26 yards on 5 passes and he had 3 touchdowns and he scored 3 points in one game, the 2nd tightest in Lions history. Now it’s the end (Joe Foria). Rookie James Mitchell also threw for a career-high 31 yards, including a 22-yard catch-and-run.
However, the tight end suffers from strong blocks, which continues to be a major problem for this unit.
Wide receiver: B
DJ Chark made some explosive plays, but Josh Reynolds’ drop (and pass interference) late in the game basically sealed the Lions loss. Amon-Ra St. Brown continues to put up a tough fight, holding onto the ball while scoring two or three big hits. Even Caliph Raymond got loose in the Panthers’ secondary for a huge 56-yard gain.
But one has to wonder when the Lions will really release first-round pick Jameson Williams. He’s only a month into action, but he’s only played in 11 snaps in this game, despite the Lions needing explosive plays to keep up with the Carolinas. did not. I understand taking him slow but these are the big games now. Maybe this is worth entering the coaching section.
Offensive line: D
Considering all the obvious pass downs the Lions have encountered, pass protection is fine, despite two sacks and seven quarterback hits (many of which came on the final drive of the game). That said, the Panthers hit four passes at the line.
Of course, the main failure of the Lions’ offensive line was another game that was physically dominated in the run game.The longest run by a Detroit back was 4 yards.
It was a very disappointing performance for a unit that had been snubbed in the Pro Bowl and had been talking all week about using it as motivation.
Defense line: D-
In the first half alone, the Panthers rushed for 240 yards and three touchdowns. By the end of the game, Carolina set franchise records for rushing yards totaling 570 and 320 yards in his single contest.
According to the PFF, the Panthers had 139 rushing yards before contact. That meant the Lions’ defensive line couldn’t even get their hands on these guys until it was too late.
The only reason this isn’t an F is because it calmed down a bit in the second half. The Panthers “only” rushed 80 yards on 21 carries (3.8 YPC) in the last two quarters.
Linebacker + Secondary: F
Just lump those two together because it was up to them to hold their rushes to 5–10 yards instead of allowing explosive 15+ yard plays on the ground. mission failed. The Panthers had him rushing for 15 yards or more eight times in the entire game.
The backseven was constantly out of position with misdirection, and on rare occasions played gaped football, losing left and right tackles. Even the players were some of Saturday’s biggest culprits.
Together, D’Onta Foreman and Chuba Hubbard made nine breaking tackles on 39 carries, according to the PFF. That is 1 him for every 4.3 carries.
Coverage was not very good. Sam Darnold only chewed his passes in the secondary for 250 yards (he 11.4 yards per attempt) in his 22 passes. The Lions were again weak on his shots deep, able to hit 47, 43 and 36 yards.
Special Team: B
Nothing remarkable happened on the special team, but this is good when it comes to punt and kick coverage.
Justin Jackson excelled as a kick returner, averaging 28.0 yards per return on four chances. Michael Badgley scored both kicks. But Caliph his Raymond didn’t even get a chance to punt his return because the Lions’ defense was so bad.
What the Panthers did on Saturday came as no surprise. In fact, every week the coaching staff talked about exactly what they had to do.
Campbell on Tuesday:
“They chase the ball and they have an identity offensively too. They’re off the rocks. They have aggressive, downhill, consistent backs.”
Wednesday’s defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn:
“It’s something we talk about every week as long as we stop running. We know what they want to do, who we are and what we want to do. It will be a good test of a man’s will. And our comrades will challenge.”
Needless to say, the Lions weren’t ready to take the challenge. Obviously, the coach knew what the Panthers would throw at them, so some of the blame lies with the players themselves, but at the same time, his plan for the Lions’ game wasn’t good enough defensively either.
The Panthers threw a lot of tough looks at the Lions, but Detroit stubbornly stayed in the many nickel packages, hoping to help the secondary step up and run support. That was clearly not the case for play this week, as DeShon Elliott was replaced by the inexperienced (and ineffective) Ifeatu Melifonwu.
Offensively, I could nitpick about playcalls here and there, but the biggest problem facing that side of the ball is the unit’s inability to run the game it’s been running for two months now. Manning shouldn’t be an issue with a decent offensive line and somewhat capable runners.
Such a performance is totally unacceptable if this team really wants to play soccer in December and January.