Lions Week 1 Grades: Defense Stumbles After Poor Early Effort

JaMycal Hasty

Getty JaMycal Hasty scores against the Lions defense.

The Detroit Lions had an up and down day against the San Francisco 49ers, falling behind early but roaring back for a big finish in a near comeback on the afternoon.

Knowing this, Week 1 was always going to be a mixed bag in terms of the grading process, but for the Lions, that is even more of the case given how inconsistent the team was amid what turned out to be a narrow 41-33 loss on the field.

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So what do the grades look like for this week? Here’s a look at the ledger following the first game of the season playing out.

Lions’ Offense Grade vs. 49ers


Detroit’s running game, led by Jamaal Williams and his 54 yards and 1 touchdown, was just abut the biggest bright spot on the day for the team offensively. D’Andre Swift added 39 yards on the ground, and the Lions moved people around up front. In the passing game, Jared Goff had some inconsistencies, but still finished with 3 touchdowns and 338 yards passing. T.J. Hockenson looked like he was in command as well at tight end, outplaying George Kittle with 97 yards and 1 touchdown in the game. Detroit’s small-name receivers left something to be desired on the day as a group and have to work to improve. Still, once the Lions jell, they could prove to be dangerous at times on the offensive side of things.

Lions’ Defense Grade vs. 49ers


After a rough start to the game, Detroit’s defense seemed to settle in during the second half and generate a few more stops as well as some pressure. They did force 3 turnovers which was a solid amount on the game, and also managed to hold San Francisco to just 10 second half points. It was too little, too late, however. Detroit’s secondary needs to step up and is looking like a potential liability without some fast development. The defensive line has to provide more resistance against the run and generate more sacks. It wasn’t a great day for Detroit’s defense, as it rarely felt like the team was in command. Allowing 442 yards of total offense without offering much resistance is a good way to get docked in the grading department.

Lions’ Special Teams Grade vs. 49ers


Punter Jack Fox is rarely going to be the reason the Lions’ special teams struggles, so leave him out of the discussion. Kicker Austin Seibert was a mixed bag, connecting on all of his extra points and striking for a 49 yard field goal in the first half. Seibert did, however, badly miss a 52 yard field goal, showing what an up and down year this could be for the Lions. In terms of the return game, Godwin Igwebuike looked shaky at times as a kick returner, muffing the ball once in a while. The Lions have some issues to iron out here moving forward in the next few weeks.

Lions’ Coaching Grade vs. 49ers


The coaching wasn’t the reason the Lions lost the game, as execution and a few blown plays were the biggest problems. Schematically, it’s easy to see what the Lions want to do, but the only trouble is, they may not have the players to do it just yet. It’s easy to see that the staff cares and has passion, which is a plus. Additionally, the players didn’t quit and lay down when they were being beaten badly in the first half. That shows the team has the staff’s respect and attention, which is good news. It might not have been a win for the Lions, but the fight they showed proved the message of the staff is sinking in. That is good news for the program they are trying to build.

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