Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia speaks to the media after the 34-22 loss to the Bears on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, in Chicago.
Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press
Free Press sports writer Dave Birkett grades the Detroit Lions’ positions from Sunday’s 34-22 loss to the Chicago Bears:
Matthew Stafford is getting shell-shocked. Stafford had another sub-par game Sunday as he completed just 25 of 42 passes for 274 yards. He threw two interceptions, though one came on a fourth-down play that was essentially a punt, and he took another six sacks. After being sacked 16 times in the last two games, Stafford understandably appears to be feeling pressure early at times and underthrowing his receivers at others. He did run for a first down on a fourth-and-2 in the second half, when his pump fake got a blitzing Bryce Callahan to leave his feet, but there wasn’t a whole lot of positive to take from the day.
Kerryon Johnson didn’t have a huge day statistically for the Lions, but he was one of the few bright spots as he scored rushing and receiving touchdowns and accounted for 89 yards from scrimmage. Johnson had 14 carries for 51 yards, and his best run might have been a 1-yard gain when he ran away from Khalil Mack in the backfield to pick up a first down in the second quarter. He did lose a fumble fighting for extra yards on the second possession of the second half. Nick Bellore was stuffed for no gain on the first carry of his career, a third-and-1 play in the second quarter when the Lions lined him up as the only back in their backfield and motioned Johnson his way at the snap. And LeGarrette Blount twice failed to convert on goal-line runs from the 1.
Wide receivers/tight ends
Kenny Golladay had six catches for 78 yards and a touchdown in his return to his hometown of Chicago. Golladay made nice catches on a third-and-12 conversion in the second quarter, when he stretched to reach a pass near the sideline, and again on a fourth-and-10 play when he beat Prince Amukamara for the ball. Golladay was lucky to avoid a fumble when Matt Nagy was slow to challenge a play. The Lions’ first sack came when TJ Jones blocked down a Bears defensive end as Callahan got home with a blitz. Michael Roberts made a difficult catch on the play he injured his shoulder. Marvin Jones had the Lions’ longest catch of the day, 32 yards, but he also drew an illegal-block-in-the-back penalty on a Johnson run and couldn’t hang onto a pass over the middle against Amukamara.
It was another rough day for an offensive line that was responsible for five of the Bears’ six sacks. Roquan Smith got a sack when Frank Ragnow and Graham Glasgow didn’t pick up his stunt (Kenny Wiggins also gave up a pressure on the play). Rick Wagner gave up sacks to Mack and Leonard Floyd (on a great spin move), and he whiffed on a block on Roy Robertson-Harris when Blount was stuffed at the line of scrimmage on the final play of the first quarter. Ragnow gave up a second sack to Bilal Nichols, and Mack overpowered Taylor Decker on his way to Stafford a second time. Give Glasgow credit for clearing a hole on Johnson’s 10-yard run with a nice pulling block on fourth-and-2 early in the game.
Old story, new opponent, but the Lions once again failed to get adequate pressure on an opposing quarterback. Da’Shawn Hand had the Lions’ only sack Sunday, a near-safety of Mitchell Trubisky early in the fourth quarter. Damon Harrison took to Twitter to say he was responsible for two Bears touchdowns, Trubisky’s 4-yard run in the second quarter and Tarik Cohen’s 2-yard touchdown in the first. On both plays, Bears center Cody Whitehair appeared to out-leverage Harrison to open a hole. The Lions did hold the Bears to 54 yards rushing as a team, far and away their best performance of the year.
Jarrad Davis appeared to pick the wrong hole on Cohen’s touchdown run and he got blocked by Jordan Howard on Trubisky’s designed quarterback draw for a score. Davis tied Harrison for the team lead with six tackles, but he also let Trubisky scramble for a first down on a third-and-4 play in the fourth quarter when he was spying the QB. Devon Kennard had two quarterback hits but also was whistled for a neutral-zone infraction on third-and-4 on the Bears’ second drive. Kennard and Christian Jones showed good awareness when they hemmed in Cohen on a screen pass in the first half, and Jones had five tackles in his return to Chicago.
The Lions secondary was bad without top cornerback Darius Slay, repeatedly letting Bears receivers run free for easy catches as Trubisky threw for a career-high 355 yards. Allen Robinson beat DeShawn Shead for a 35-yard gain on the opening drive, when Shead got turned around in coverage, and later for a 36-yard touchdown when Lions coaches did Shead no favors by having him play press coverage on third-and-15. Shead said he was responsible for the confusion that led to Anthony Miller getting loose a 45-yard touchdown later in the first half. Quandre Diggs also got beat by Robinson for a long gain on the second drive, and he gave up a 45-yard pass to Miller when Christian Jones accidentally knocked him over while trying to bump Miller off the line. Nevin Lawson was called for a defensive holding penalty in the third quarter and Glover Quin missed a tackle on Miller’s touchdown. Diggs did make a bone-jarring hit on Cohen in the third quarter and Tracy Walker had good coverage on a near-interception, but there were too many bad plays to count.
New special-teams coach, same old problems as the Lions picked up two more special-teams penalties Sunday to give them 17 on the year. Charles Washington made a great play as the Lions recovered one of two onside kicks, hustling to deflect the ball in front of the Bears’ returnman for Nick Bellore to recover. Matt Prater made a 52-yard field goal, but the Lions failed on both their two-point conversion attempts, gave up an 18-yard punt return to Cohen, and Sam Martin hit his final punt just 37 yards while dealing with an unspecified injury.
This is three straight games the Lions have no-showed for, and the fifth time this season they’ve looked absolutely unprepared for or uninterested in their opponent. That falls directly on head coach Matt Patricia, who’s taken a 9-7 team and turned them into one of the worst in the NFL. The Lions had to take a timeout on their opening drive when they didn’t have enough players on the field for a field-goal attempt, then punted out of the timeout when they could have just taken the delay-of-game penalty and backed up five yards. The Lions had to burn a second timeout when confusion in the secondary left Quin matched one-on-one with Miller, and half the Lions defense on the opposite side of the field. And they left a timeout on the board in the first half when the Bears gifted them a clock stoppage while backed up near their own goal line with just under a minute to play. Patricia failed on both challenges and the Lions had no timeouts for the final 7:21 of the game, and I wasn’t a fan of the fullback dive play when Bellore was stopped for no gain on third-and-1 with the Lions down 13. The coaching was so bad, it deserves it’s own grading scale.
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