Detroit Lions 2021 Midseason Report Card: Evaluating the 0-8 start
By Zach Payne
Special Teams- 3.8/5 Stars
This special team’s grade is heavily inflated by Jack Fox being arguably the best punter in the league. However, it is also boosted by the incredible trick plays that were executed to perfection against the Rams.
The special teams’ grade is relatively simple week-to-week. Did they allow a ton of return yards? Did they get any good returns themselves? Were field goals made? And usually, this unit satisfies all those criteria which is good. Dave Fipp has done a really good job with this unit, and there really is nothing to complain about.
Now speaking of coaching.
Coaching Staff- 2.7/5 Stars
This has been the toughest grade to hand out each week. Let’s start with the play-calling because in general, I think it has been pretty good.
The team is putting their players in the best position they possibly could, I touched on this briefly when talking about how Anthony Lynn is dialing up plays to help get Swift into space. And Aaron Glenn has done an even better job of this, and he has been particularly effective callint blitzes.
It’s play calls like this that give me hope for what this team could eventually be. That being said, there have certainly been learning experiences. For instance, at the end of both the Week 3 and Week 5 losses to the Ravens and Vikings. When the game was on the line, Glenn only rushed three and drop eight into coverage. Those passive calls have been cited as why the Lions lost those games (even though there was a multitude of reasons).
And as for Lynn, as we went over earlier the offense has gotten into these funks where they are brutal for extended stretches of time. It seems these stretches occur when Swift isn’t able to get into open space, which leads to a really simple game plan for opposing defenses. The Lions’ offense needs to become more adaptable somehow. With the pieces that are available, Lynn will be challenged to boost the production of his unit.
Then there is head coach Dan Campbell. He is the heartbeat of this team without question. He has kept the team mostly motivated, though on-field effort has wained at times.
If the above trend holds, that means a good performance ins coming agaonst the Steelers in Week 10.
Overall the work the coaching staff is doing has been commendable. Fostering consistency is the next frontier.
No one enjoys losing every week, and the 2021 Lions have found some fascinating new ways to break the hearts of their fans. It has certainly been a rough eight weeks for everyone involved.
It’s important to remember this is the first year of a rebuild. This was never going to be a good season. While some fans seem to have forgotten this, the front office surely has not. The stretch run of the season might not be a lot better than the first eight weeks, but a win or two would be a positive development.
Overall Midseason Grade: 2.4 stars