The Detroit Lions lost their 2022 season opener to The Philadelphia Eagles 38-35 in a valiant comeback effort. Despite the close score, some positions played better than others. Let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly.
A below average grade for a below average performance from Jared Goff. With about 5 minutes left in the first half, Goff held a horrendous statline of 4 completions for 11 yards and a pick. It’s hard to put all the blame on Goff though, as the play calling early certainly did not help. For some reason, the first year offensive coordinator Ben Johnson abandoned the run and play action pass, which led to an extremely successful opening drive. There was clearly miscommunication between Goff and TJ Hockenson on the interception as well during the second quarter, which was returned for a touchdown. Goff stepped up significantly in the second half, in which he threw a pair of touchdowns including a clutch 22 yard dime to DJ Chark to make it a 3 point game. Goff finished with 215 yards in the air and an 80.3 passer rating.
Running Backs: A
D’andre Swift was clearly the best player on any side of the ball for The Lions on Sunday. The third year back broke off a 50 yard run on the second play of the game. The offense ran through Swift, and he had a career day against a stout Philadelphia run defense. Swift recorded 144 yds on the ground with a touchdown, averaging 9.6 yards per carry. Jamaal Williams also had himself a day, as he provided some of the goal line work for the team. While William’s stat line does not jump off of the page, his two touchdowns showed just how effective he can be in short yardage situations. Swift and Williams have potential to be one of the best running back duos in the league this year.
Wide Receivers: C+
One of the biggest question marks on The 2022 Detroit Lions was the receiving core. Headlined by second year standout Amon-Ra St. Brown, free agent pickup DJ Chark, and safety valve Josh Reynolds, we expected them to be much improved from last year, but by how much? The first half effort from the wide receivers was disappointing, but the group really came alive in the second half. Both St. Brown and Chark each found the end zone, with St. Brown leading all the receivers in yards and receptions with 8 catches for 64 yards. Drops seemed to be an issue for all three of the starting receivers, with Reynold having a crucial one that led to The Lions punting late in the game. Overall, the group was not terrible, especially not in the second half, but they do need to be more consistent.
Tight Ends: C
TJ Hockenson had an average game, nothing more and nothing less. He caught 4 passes for 38 yards, including a third down conversion on the opening drive of the game. Since taking him 8th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft, Hockenson has only had one 100-yard receiving game. The Lions drafted him to be a dominant tight end who can control the middle of the field. We hope to see more from him in the receiving department this season.
Offensive Line: B
The Lions’ strongest unit played solid against The Eagles. Missing starting right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Logan Stenberg stepped in and was the weakest link on the offensive line, posting just a 25.9 PFF grade. The rest of the unit was solid, only allowing one sack. Where the group really shined was in the run game, as they dominated Philadelphia’s defensive front. The Lions averaged over 6 yards per carry, and played a big part in D’andre Swift’s big day. It will be interesting to see how the team plays going forward, as next week they play one of the best defensive lines in the NFL, The Washington Commanders.
Front Seven: D+
The front seven for The Lions debuted plenty of new faces, including 2nd overall pick Aidan Hutchinson and 6th round pick Malcolm Rodriguez. Returning faces such as Alim McNeil and Charles Harris also anchor a defensive line that is looking to improve from being one of the worst in the league in 2021. Clearly, this group is still a work in progress, as they were absolutely torched on the ground. Jalen Hurts specifically, was running all over the place as he rushed for 90 yards and avoided sacks left and right. Rodriguez surprisingly boasted the best PFF grade out of any defender with a solid 73.4, but overall the group played poorly one sunday. They allowed 126 yards to running backs, and allowed 4 rushing touchdowns, all from different players.
Similarly to the defensive front, this secondary had a lot of questions going into Sunday. AJ Brown completely destroyed this secondary, posting 155 receiving yards on 10 catches. Amani Oruwariye struggled against Brown, and safety turned corner Will Harris let up a huge reception to the former Tennessee Titan which led to a touchdown at the end of the first half. Two players certainly stood out in the secondary, Jeff Okudah and Tracy Walker III. Okudah shutdown Philadelphia’s number 2 option in Devonta Smith, who recorded 0 catches on 4 targets. Okudah played impressively in coverage and had 10 tackles as well. Tracy Walker led the team in tackles with 13, and recorded a sack before being ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct in the third quarter.