Detroit Lions vs. Cleveland Browns: Live Grades and Analysis for Detroit

Nick Kostora@@nickkostoraContributor IIIOctober 13, 2013

Aug 15, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Detroit Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley (98) during a preseason game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions made up for a poor first-half performance as they defeated the Cleveland Browns 31-17 in Week 6.

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 13:  Tight end Joseph Fauria #80 of the Detroit Lions celebrates after scoring a touchdown with tackle Corey Hilliard #78 against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 13, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt S
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

 Final Grades

Pass Offense: The second half provided a fresh start for the entire Lions offense. Matthew Stafford spread the ball around and let his receivers do the work. He finished the game with 248 yards passing and four touchdowns. Tight end Joseph Fauria caught three huge touchdowns and is a prime red-zone target, while Kris Durham carried some of the slack left behind by the hampered Calvin Johnson.

Pass Defense: Brandon Weeden did make some nice throws, but throwing two interceptions to DeAndre Levy may have been the catalyst for Detroit’s victory. Josh Gordon had 126 yards receiving, but no one else had a real impact in the passing game and the Lions played sound pass defense, especially in the second half. Levy was the clear standout, but Chris Houston also had an impact with six tackles.

Run Offense: Detroit’s ground game was by no means great today, but it at least became decent in the second half. Reggie Bush found some traction, gaining 78 rushing yards on the day, but it is the way he and Joique Bell catch passes out of the backfield that makes them such a dynamic duo. Still, that poor first half weighs heavily on the overall grade.

Run Defense: Outside of Travis Benjamin’s 45-yard rush, Cleveland did very little in the running game all day. Willis McGahee and Chris Ogbonnaya combined for just 61 yards on the ground and never established a real presence in Cleveland’s offense. The Browns were passing the ball for most of the contest.

Special Teams: David Akers got involved with a field goal, but Sam Martin was the best thing about Detroit’s special teams as he had five punts for 229 yards. It’s never acceptable to take a punter in the fifth round of the NFL Draft, but Martin is very good. Michael Spurlock did almost nothing in the return game.

Coaching: The Lions utilized ball-control offense in the second half and found ways to put points on the board without taking too many huge risks offensively. The offense struggled mightily without Johnson last week, but the decoy strategy was highly effective this time around. A great win that moves Detroit to 4-2.

First-Half Grades

Pass Offense: Calvin Johnson dropped a touchdown pass in the first quarter and a first-down pass in the second quarter. He is clearly not himself, and the rest of the passing game has largely followed suit. Kris Durham does have 50 yards receiving and Matthew Stafford has hooked up with six different pass-catchers, but there have been multiple drops and no consistency. Stafford has only 83 passing yards.

Pass Defense: Detroit’s secondary had a real chance to dominate against Brandon Weeden. Instead, the pass defense has been suspect and Weeden has thrown for two touchdowns, Weeden has found Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron a few times, and is starting to find rhythm. A second-quarter interception by DeAndre Levy shifted the momentum for a short time in Detroit’s favor.

Run Offense: Reggie Bush and Joique Bell are not finding the room on the ground that had been hoped for. Cleveland has been stout up the middle, only allowing 27 total rushing yards. Detroit needs to establish the run in order to open up the play-action passing game, and it has not been there to this point.

Run Defense: Travis Benjamin had an impressive 45-yard rush, but the Lions have largely shut down the rest of Cleveland’s ground game. Willis McGahee has just 33 yards on eight carries, while Chris Ogbonnaya has a mere 10 rushing yards. Cleveland had 16 total rushing attempts in the first half of play.

Special Teams: Sam Martin continues to elevate his play as a punter. He pinned Cleveland on its own 5-yard line and drew a penalty on another punt. David Akers has not yet attempted a field goal, and Michael Spurlock continues to be a non-factor as a returner. He needs to step his game up in a hurry to keep his job.

Coaching: The game plan has been simple offensively: Spread the ball around and use Johnson mainly as a decoy. Things will have to change in the second half, however, as putting up seven points in the first half is not good enough.