Midseason Report: Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are in a good position after the first half of the season, having already won more games this season (five) than last (four) and have seen improved play from a lot of their units.
So, for the most part, the Lions had a fairly even grading process. If they don’t make the playoffs, though, they could end up with a harsher final 2013 evaluation.
GRADING THE DETROIT LIONS
|Quarterbacks||Matthew Stafford is having the best season of his career and has led his team to three come-from-behind wins. He still makes some erratic decisions and his accuracy on intermediate and deep routes is less than 50 percent, but he has led his team to a 5-3 record and is growing in almost every facet.|
|Running Backs||As pure runners, the duo of Reggie Bush and Joique Bell has been good, but not great. Bush has been exactly what Detroit wanted as far as a hybrid receiver/runner, but he has dropped a lot of passes.|
|Wide Receivers||Calvin Johnson is the best receiver in the NFL and third in the league in receiving despite playing two fewer games than A.J. Green and DeSean Jackson, the two guys ahead of him. Kris Durham has emerged as a reliable target. Overall, though, drops remain an issue.|
|Tight Ends||Joseph Fauria has been a revelation -- when he has the ball thrown to him. Through either the game plans or because he's still learning how to be a complete tight end, Fauria has had games of great production or ones in which he didn't see a pass thrown his way. Brandon Pettigrew has played well the past month after struggling at the beginning of the year.|
|Offensive Line||Center Dominic Raiola is having one of the best seasons of his career and right guard Larry Warford has been the Lions' most consistent rookie. Detroit has also kept Stafford well protected despite injuries at both tackle spots.|
|Defensive Line||This is a tough grade to assess. From a statistics standpoint, Detroit's front four have not had numbers one would expect, but they have done a really good job pressuring quarterbacks. Ndamukong Suh is playing consistently and Ziggy Ansah has shown spurts of being a future good defensive end.|
|Linebackers||The only reason this is not an A is because they haven't been that great against the run. But DeAndre Levy is having the best season of his career and has been in the right position at the right time almost every time. Stephen Tulloch is playing fully healthy and back to a good level.|
|Secondary||The safeties have been good for the most part. Glover Quin was an inspired signing and has helped Louis Delmas play the most consistently of his career. But the cornerback play knocks this grade down. Chris Houston, Darius Slay and Bill Bentley have been inconsistent. Rashean Mathis has been consistent -- but inconsistently healthy. Too many big plays given up.|
|Special Teams||Sam Martin was worth drafting in April as he has been one of the best punters in the league save for a shank late against Cincinnati. David Akers has been fine as a kicker, but has had two kicks blocked due to poor protection. Kick and punt coverage have been great. Kick and punt return, headed by Micheal Spurlock, have been below average.|
|Coaching||Detroit's coaching staff, headed by Jim Schwartz, has not made any colossal blunders or any massive game-changers positively. It has just done a good job coaching this season in almost every facet. Detroit is 5-3 at the halfway point and is in playoff contention. The biggest question has been two-minute situations, which have been suspect.|
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