Detroit Lions vs. Oakland Raiders: Game Grades for Each Lions Unit

Brandon Alisoglu@@BrandonAlisogluCorrespondent IAugust 16, 2014

Detroit Lions vs. Oakland Raiders: Game Grades for Each Lions Unit

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    The Detroit Lions fell to the Oakland Raiders late Friday night, but we all know the final score doesn't matter. What does matter is how the team performed and progressed.

    So did the first-team offense capitalize on all of the offseason moves that were aimed toward creating a top-notch unit? Did the defense figure out how to manufacture pressure?

    And what about the coaches?

    Trust me, it's all here. Click through to find out how each positional unit on the team graded out in its second preseason game. 


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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    The big question all offseason has been how Matthew Stafford will take to the new offense. Granted, it's too early to say anything definitive, but you can't ask for much more than his performance against the Raiders.

    Stafford finished with just one incomplete pass in 10 attempts, racking up 88 yards and two touchdowns. He looked comfortable and decisive on every play, finding the open man while shredding any semblance of an Oakland defense.

    And it appears that Dan Orlovsky was paying attention.

    Orlovsky came out just as hot and, more importantly, decisive. He was running through his progressions much quicker while delivering accurate throws that consistently found the open man.

    Kellen Moore, however, never established himself. He didn't enjoy the clean pockets he saw last week and the result was the poor performance of a guy trying to hold on as a third quarterback.

    Grade: B+

Running Back

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    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    The first half was the tale of two running backs who are heading in different directions.

    Reggie Bush continued to confound those that assumed he was a decent receiver. For the second straight week, he dropped a pass that he had no business dropping. And his tentative rushing didn't do anything to erase the memory.

    Conversely, Joique Bell showed some serious heart. He ran tough but didn't seem to make any headway considering his seven yards on three carries.

    The stars of the offseason from the backfield kept things rolling, though.

    Theo Riddick finally got to show what he's capable of on an early third-quarter screen pass. He seemingly made every Raider on the field miss as he sidestepped his way halfway down the field.

    And, of course, new fan favorite George Winn took the ball in for the one-yard score to cap the drive. The Detroit running backs didn't end up with many yards, but there were a few plays that proved this backfield can be special.

    Grade: C+

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    If the quarterbacks played so well, it only makes sense that those on the receiving end did, too.

    And they did.

    From Golden Tate's double move leading to an easy opening touchdown to Ryan Broyles' tough catches, there was little to be upset about.

    Corey Fuller also added to his growing legacy. On the first drive of the third quarter, he took a short throw, weaved his way through traffic and came within inches of the end zone.

    The most important development may have been Eric Ebron's play. He still looked a bit confused out there, juggling his first catch before ultimately bringing it in, but his second catch proved he had the concentration necessary to be a valuable asset.

    Even Kris Durham got in on the act with a Calvin Johnson-esque grab in the first quarter. He went over the defensive back in an aggressive manner to haul in the game's second score.

    Lastly, Andrew Peacock continued his effort from last week. Neither of his catches were spectacular, but he's proven himself to be a poor man's Ryan Broyles, who himself put together another solid performance. 

    Grade: B

Offensive Line

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    The fun ends here.

    There has been a lot to celebrate about Detroit's skill-playing units, but the offensive line left a lot to be desired.

    As mentioned previously, the running backs were constantly battling to get two or three yards. That isn't because they were dancing in the backfield.

    No lineman looked particularly impressive, but guard Rodney Austin continued to prove that he isn't the interior line depth the Lions desperately need. Don't be surprised if Garrett Reynolds beats him out in the end.

    The pass protection was decent through the first two-and-a-half quarters, but it started to fall apart in the fourth quarter. Granted, none of those players are likely to make the team, but it's concerning that the offensive line still can't open any holes.

    Grade: C- 

Defensive Line

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    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    What happened to the defensive line?

    The starters were average at best. The headliners generated a tiny bit of pressure, with George Johnson making the biggest impact on the game with an early hurry and a later sack.

    And Nick Fairley? He might as well be non-existent.

    His demotion ended up legitimate, as C.J. Mosley started in his place. Yet, Fairley did nothing to show he cared.

    The supposed strength of this team seems to be deteriorating quickly. Once again Andre Fluellen was shoved three yards deep into the end zone on the Raiders' second score.

    You know things are bleak when you're holding on to Gregory Hickman. He wasn't as active as a week ago, but he looked good enough this week to survive the first cut.

    Grade: C-


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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    The defense overall was unimpressive. However, the saving grace was Stephen Tulloch.

    Tulloch has been struggling to cover people stretching back to last season, but he took a large step forward in this game. He didn't fall for play-action fakes, and he regularly swallowed up running backs coming out of the backfield.

    Other than him, there is little to report.

    Tahir Whitehead continued his strong-ish play. He was the only one to read a late screen and has shown he has gained enough weight to handle blockers and tough ball-carriers.

    But it's getting a bit worrisome that Kyle Van Noy can't seem to find his way. It's early, and nobody should label him a project, but you'd like to see more from the second-rounder at this point.

    Grade: C-


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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    The defense as a whole could be summarized by the defensive backs. There were long stretches of futility saved by a couple of key plays.

    The Raiders were driving early until the ball bounced off an Oakland receiver into the hands of James Ihedibgo. It should be noted that it's the type of play that the Lions wouldn't make last year. They never took advantage of an opponent's mistake.

    However, those plays were drowned in a sea of missed assignments and poor coverage.

    Too often, Raiders were running free with nary a Lion in sight. The tackling wasn't terrible, but they easily gave up almost 200 yards to Derek Carr and Matt Schaub.

    Still, one interesting play belonged to Chris Greenwood. He challenged James Jones in the end zone and knocked the ball away enough to keep the Raiders off the board.

    But it isn't enough to erase the bad. Perhaps the lasting memory of this game should be the barrage of holding penalties.

    Grade: D+

Special Teams

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    The kicking battle has been hard-fought over the past two months and looked like it was destined to stretch into late August. That might not be true anymore.

    Nate Freese knocked in a 55-yard field goal to close out the first half that proved he's the man for the job. He only connected on one of his extended point-after attempts, but the long field goal will be the lasting memory.

    Giorgio Tavecchio didn't do anything to hurt his position, but Freese has proven he can handle the job. It's likely that nobody will remember that missed PAT from Freese. It's also just as likely that no one will care.

    Lastly, the coverage teams were pretty solid with one exception. And the high point was Nevin Lawson downing a punt on the two-inch line.

    Grade: B+


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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    The preseason is not going to be a coach's defining moment, but one unit looked much further along than the other.

    Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi wasn't nearly as shy as he was in Week 1. The starters came out firing, using double moves to establish a rhythm that the Raiders couldn't catch up to.

    The defense, however, was another story.

    Perhaps defensive coordinator Teryl Austin isn't worried about showing his hand this early. However, his defense failed to make an impression. Whether it was creating pressure, shutting down running lanes or locking down receivers, nothing seemed to work.

    Austin will get the benefit of the doubt because nobody wants to tip their hand this early. Still, it would be nice to know that the defense is capable of preventing first downs occasionally.

    Grade: C+

Final Grades

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press
    Positional UnitGrade
    Running BacksC+
    Wide Receivers and Tight EndsB
    Offensive LineC-
    Defensive LineC-
    Special TeamsB+
    Cumulative GradeC

    The cumulative grade doesn't match the potential of this team.

    The first-team offense was explosive and unstoppable. It was everything that fans could possibly hope for.

    The defense didn't measure up, but much like the Saints, it only has to take advantage of the opportunities that arise. To that end, James Ihedigbo did enough to make sure the top players on this team were winners.

    Depth will continue to be an issue for Detroit so long as so much of the cap is committed to a few stars. However, pass coverage could be the bugaboo that haunts this team into December.