Lions vs. Panthers report card, scores: The defense gets coal in their socks
For the past week, Detroit Lions fans have been begging for a Christmas miracle. After a 1-6 start to the season, the Lions could have found themselves on the playing field by the December 25 date. Everyone did their job: the Giants lost, the Leaders lost, the Seahawks lost. Heck, even the Eagles lost!
But the Lions failed to take care of their own business. In fact, they hardly showed up for work at all. The Carolina Panthers took it to them on the opening whistle as it was-In the words of Dan Campbell– “Absolute ass kicking.”
While there were a few notables on Saturday, I mostly agree with Campbell’s assessment. This was a big hit. Let’s take a closer look at our 16th week report card.
It’s hard to blame Jared Goff for this. With no running game to help take the pressure off him, Goff completed 25 of 42 passes for 355 yards and three goals. He was able to drive the ball down effectively and connected several deep shots. His 8.45 yards attempted per pass was seventh-highest for the week and third-highest among quarterbacks who have thrown more than 25 times.
However, the failed shot turned out to be very expensive. The Lions had a chance to take an early lead, which could have definitely changed the course of the rest of the game. Whether it was a Goff foul or the center Frank Ragnow is up for debate, but it’s still up to Goff to make sure the ball doesn’t hit the ground.
However, overall this was a very solid game from Goff, who showed toughness by taking some big hits, continued to gain a solid pocket presence, and achieved it all while bucking his cold-weather narrative.
Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift each combined for 23 yards on 11 carries and were both primarily non-players in the receiving game.
The Lions’ rushing offense has been dead, more or less, for several weeks now, and while the offensive line certainly doesn’t help the situation, the Detroit running backs aren’t running confidently, nor are they broke. any He treats. In fact, for the entire season, the Lions ranked 26th in post-contact yards per rush (1.4) in a running game.
Simply put, Lions need more of their backs—much more than that.
Tight ends: B+
Shane Zylstra is one of two or three players who can hold his head high with his performance on Saturday. On just 29 snaps, Zylstra caught five passes for 26 yards and three touchdowns—becoming only the second Lions tight end ever to score three points in a game (Joe Fauria). Rookie James Mitchell also threw for a career-high 31 yards, including a nice catch and run for 22 yards.
But the tight ends suffered from blocking aggressively, which is still a major problem with this unit.
Wide receptors: b
DJ Chark made several explosive plays, but a Josh Reynolds fall (and pass tackle) late in the game essentially knocked the Lions out. Amon Ra St. Brown continues to hit the punch, making two big jabs but still holding on to the ball. Even Califf Raymond lost in the Panthers’ secondary for a huge gain of 56 yards.
However, one has to wonder when the Lions will truly allow a first-round pick to pick Jameson Williams. He’s been active for a month now, but he’s only played 11 snaps in this game, despite the Lions needing explosive plays to keep up with Carolina. I understand he took it slow, but these are big games now. If he is as good as the amount of capital spent on him would suggest, start building a game plan around the guy. Perhaps this is worth going to the training department.
Offensive line: Dr
Given all the clear passes the Lions found themselves on, I actually thought the pass protection was good despite the two sacks and seven quarterback hits (many of which happened in the game’s final drive). However, the Panthers also had a four pass streak.
Of course, the main failure of the Lions’ offensive line was another game where they were physically dominated in the running game. The longest running distance for a Detroit running back was 4 yards.
For a unit that has been talking all week about being snubbed in the Pro Bowl and using motivation, this was a very disappointing performance.
Defensive line: D-
In the first half alone, the Panthers rushed for 240 yards and three touchdowns. By the end of the game, Carolina set a franchise record for total rushing yards and yards in a single contest with 570 total yards and 320 rushing yards.
Per PFF, the Panthers had 139 rushing yards before connecting, meaning the Lions defensive line wasn’t even going to get a hand on these guys until it was too late.
The only reason we don’t have an F is that things settled down a bit in the second half. The Panthers “only” rushed for 80 yards on 21 carries (3.8 YPC) in the final two quarters.
Linebacker + Secondary: F
We’re just going to group those two together, because they had to keep the rush to 5-10 yards instead of allowing the play more than 15 yards on the ground. Mission failed. The Panthers had eight rushes of over 15 yards throughout the game.
The seven fullbacks were always out of position due to misdirection, and on the rare occasions they played gaping football, missing right and left tackles. Even players who usually handle the sound, like cornerback Jeff Okuda, were some of the biggest offenders on Saturday.
PFF, D’Onta Foreman and Chuba Hubbard combined for nine broken tackles over 39 carries — or one in every 4.3 carries or so.
It did not improve in coverage. Sam Darnold chewed the secondary for 250 yards on just 22 catches (11.4 yards per attempt). The Lions were, once again, vulnerable to deep snaps, allowing completions of 47, 43, and 36 yards.
Special teams: b
Nothing really noteworthy happened on special teams, which is a good thing when it comes to covering punts and kicks.
Justin Jackson was good as a kick returner, averaging 28.0 yards per return on four chances. Michael Badgley took both of his kicks. But Calif Raymond didn’t even get a chance to return from the penalty spot because of how bad the Lions’ defense was.
Nothing about the Panthers did on Saturday was surprising. In fact, the coaching staff has been talking all week about the exact thing they need to do.
Campbell on Tuesday:
“They run behind the ball, offensively, they have an identity. They want to run the football. They want the play pass. This left tackle (Panthers T Ikem Ekwonu) comes off the rock. This O-line comes off the rock. They’ve got stability from their backs that are aggressive and downhill.” “.
Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn Wednesday:
“This is something we talk about every week in terms of stopping running. I know it’s a cliché, everyone says it, but it’s true in terms of who we are and who we are. I’ve been talking about who we are for the past two weeks, so we know what they want to do, and they know Who are we and what do we want to do. And man, this is going to be a good fight, and this is going to be a good test of the will of the men in this field. And our men are going to be up to the challenge.”
It is fair to say that the lions were not up to the challenge. Obviously, some of the blame rests with the players themselves, because the coaches knew what the Panthers were going to throw at them. But at the same time, the Lions’ game plan wasn’t on a defensive level.
The Panthers threw a lot of heavy looks at the Lions, but Detroit stubbornly stayed in plenty of nickel packages, hoping their secondary team would step up and help run support. But with Okudah not at his best, and DeShon Elliott replaced by the inexperienced (and ineffective) Ifeatu Melifonwu, that clearly wasn’t the play this week.
Offensively, I can do some criticism about calling a play here and there, but the biggest problem facing this side of the ball is the unit’s inability to run a running game for two full months now. Individuals shouldn’t be the problem with a decent offensive line and fairly capable runners. However, Detroit hasn’t seen any progress here and seems to be getting worse.
If this team really wants to compete in football in December-January, then such offers are completely unacceptable.
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