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Other Week 4 Game Recaps

Week 4 Game Recap: Detroit Lions 14, Chicago Bears 17

What you need to know

Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions played a terribly sloppy football game on the road in Chicago in Week 4. The Lions were ineffective in all phases of the game and looked out of sync and out of sorts for most of the game. The running game continues to miss injured running back Ameer Abdullah and struggled to out the offense in good situations and the passing game looked flat and disjointed.

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears finally won a football game! When the season began, who would have guessed that it would take strong efforts from Brian Hoyer, Jordan Howard and Eddie Royal for the Bears to register their first win of the 2016 season?!?!? If not for those three guys on offense, Chicago would have found itself on the losing end of another winnable game.

Hoyer suddenly looks like a viable option under center for the Bears. Howard suddenly looks like the best running back on the Bears roster. Royal suddenly looks like the most reliable pass-catching option on the field.

Even with three big efforts from the aforementioned three, the Bears still only put up 17 points on a Detroit squad playing without its two best defensive players. While itís a step in the right direction, the Bearsí offense still has a lot of growing up to do.

Detroit Lions

QB Matthew Stafford, 63 offensive snaps, Pass: 23 - 36 - 213 - 0 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 2 - 17 - 0
The passing offense was incredibly inefficient in this contest as Stafford was only able to generate 213 yards passing on 36 attempts. While he was accurate, he just didn't challenge the deeper parts of the field as he only attempted two throws of 20+ yards, one close to being complete and another that was clearly overthrown. Stafford was forced to move off of his drop as pressure pushed him out of the pocket multiple times in this game. When he moved to his right he was still somewhat accurate but when he moved to his left he had a hard time being accurate with his throws. The passing attack looked out of sorts from the start and Stafford actually crossed the line of scrimmage by at least two yards before throwing a pass in the first quarter. The offense had zero flow and rhythm throughout the entire game, and the only way the offense moved the ball was utilizing short throws and screen passes. It was a tight game pretty much the entire way and the Lions out up only three points in the first half. Stafford drove the Lions down the field and into Bears territory late in the second quarter, but a miscommunication between Stafford and receiver Golden Tate caused an interception, taking away an opportunity to put points on the board in a very close contest. From an accuracy standpoint, Stafford was 15-of-19 on 20 throws in the first half, not counting the interception that wasn't his fault. The Lions got behind in the second half but stuck to their offensive script which called for runs that were mostly ineffective. Stafford remained accurate in the second half but the Bears defense contained the offense throughout the game, limiting them the entire day. Most of Stafford's throws were to the short and intermediate areas of the field and his biggest play was actually a screen pass that went to running back Zach Zenner for 22 yards. Stafford worked the middle of the field throughout the game, hitting slants to receiver Marvin Jones and crossing routes to receiver Anquan Boldin and tight end Eric Ebron. It stands out that Stafford didn't challenge the boundary at all in this game. The Lions got the ball trailing 17-6 midway through the fourth quarter, and Stafford put together a nice drive to push the Lions down the field, but an errant throw/miscommunication led to an interception that ultimately ended the ball game. Stafford led Ebron too far or underthrew Boldin, and it wasn't a good throw or decision as there were three defenders covering two Lions. However, it's not too difficult to see a problem in the route with Ebron and Boldin ending up so close together. That sums up the offense on this day, as they only accumulated two field goals and a two-point conversion in the game.

RB Theo Riddick, 51 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 31 - 0, Rec: 4 - 27 - 0 (7 targets)
Riddick started the football game for the Lions and like last week, he struggled to make anything happen early in the game. Riddick is putting forth great effort and he runs hard between the tackles but is limited as a traditional runner and should be viewed as a pass catching option used out in space. In the first quarter, Riddick dropped a pass on second down as Stafford scrambled away from pressure. Riddick continues to make the first defender miss as a pass catcher and was dangerous in this area of the game Sunday. The Lions ran mainly out of the shotgun, and when Riddick can see a cutback lane he is very effective. Riddick ran behind guard Larry Warford and right tackle Riley Reiff for 11 yards and on another carry he started left, but curt it back quickly to the right side, taking the ball down to the one yard line. After that play, Riddick got a red zone carry but had absolutely nowhere to go and was stuffed for no gain. He was targeted seven times and ended up with four catches, totaling 27 yards. Riddick was dangerous as a receiver and had catches of 10 yards and eight yards. He had a nice reception set up but slipped as he was cutting on the Solder Field turf and fell after gaining five yards. Overall, Riddick is not perfectly set up to be a traditional running back and it showed in this game as he was fairly ineffective generating 31 yards on 11 carries.

RB Zach Zenner, 5 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 12 - 0, Rec: 1 - 22 - 0 (1 targets)
Zenner entered the game after Washington was injured and saw very limited action because of how the game played out. He did have a red zone touch as he got a carry on third and goal from the one yard line. Bears linebacker John Timu made a great play, blitzing through the open A gap and blowing up the play before it got started and forcing a two yard loss. Zenner caught a screen pass and showed some speed, beating the linebacker and turning the corner for a 22-yard gain helping the Lions to move off of their goal line. He also had another carry that went for 11 yards, showing quickness and good vision while getting the ball north and south in a hurry. Zenner is also a nice alternative as a between the tackles runner and can be productive in the right scenario.

RB Dwayne Washington, 7 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 6 - 0, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (1 targets)
Washington was limited in this game by an ankle injury and touched the ball only three times in the game. He caught one pass (eight yards) and carried the ball twice (one for five yards and one for one yard) in this contest. Washington is a viable alternative as a between the tackles runner to running back Theo Riddick as he is much better in space and as a pass-catching option.

WR Anquan Boldin, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 31 - 0 (8 targets)
Boldin was targeted eight times in this game, most coming in the short throwing game. He is still very effective using his big body to create separation, and the Lions use him to move the chains. He caught six passes and totaled 31 yards, but four of those catches went for first downs. The other area where the Lions are using him is in the pick/rub game as they're deploying him out of the slot and running the outside receiver behind him into a clearing. Boldin is helping with the tempo and rhythm of the offense and those are very critical things for Stafford.

WR Marvin Jones, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 74 - 0 (7 targets)
Jones continues to lead the Lions down the field passing attack as he caught five balls and registered 74 yards. Jones did have a drop in the second half over the middle of the field, but he was as dangerous as any Lions offensive player was on Sunday. Jones was utilized on slant routes Sunday as his quickness and ability to separate in short areas allowed him to get open into the middle of the field. Also, the Lions are giving him help, running combination routes and rub concepts to give him space. Jones caught slant passes of 17 yards, seven yards, another for 17 yards and a fourth for 19 yards in this game. He also caught a quick screen pass and made the first defender miss, taking the pass for 15 yards, 14 of which came after the catch. Jones is generating yards after the catch and is a threat at all times because of his body control and ability to adjust to the ball in the air. Jones was targeted seven times in this game.

WR Golden Tate, 36 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 1 - 0 (4 targets)
Tate looks out of sorts and his 2016 season has not started well on any level. In this game he was targeted four times total and most were very close to the line of scrimmage. Tate was targeted on a quick out, but Bears defensive back Bryce Callahan made a nice play and stopped him before Tate could make him miss. He was targeted a few yards down the field down the right sideline but couldn't create separation and dropped a ball that he most times would catch. Tate ran the wrong route at the end of the first half, running up the field instead of breaking out to the sideline and it led to an interception, costing the Lions an opportunity at points. He did not see the field much the rest of the day but came on late in the fourth quarter to catch a two-point conversion. Tate has the look of a player that is hurt and simply not in sync on any level with his quarterback.

TE Eric Ebron, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 42 - 0 (5 targets)
Ebron had an up and down day against the Bears. He is a mismatch as a receiver because of his athleticism, but he made multiple mental errors that hurt the offense in this game. He had a drop on the Lions first drive, and he was called for a false start early in the game as well. He was flagged for a holding call in the second half that negated a nice run. Also, he was late on an assignment to come across the formation to kick a defender out, and he quit on the play after missing the block. Riddick made that defender miss but Ebron had his back turned and Riddick eventually was tackled for a five-yard loss. As a receiving option, Ebron was dangerous as his combination of size and speed gave the Bears fits. He looks much more comfortable catching the ball and is a reliable weapon running up the seam or over the middle of the field. Ebron's longest catch went for 13 yards and he was targeted five times total in the game.

Chicago Bears

QB Brian Hoyer, 69 offensive snaps, Pass: 28 - 36 - 302 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - -3 - 0
Brian Hoyer put forth an exceptional effort in Chicagoís 17-14 win over the Detroit Lions. Hoyer, starting his second game under center since joining the Bears in the offseason, completed 28 of 36 passes for 302 yards and two touchdowns.

Pressure or no pressure, Hoyer made all the throws. With pressure in his face, Hoyer completed 6 of 8 passes for 44 yards and two TDs. This stat is encouraging because of Chicagoís inconsistent offensive line play. While the majority of Hoyerís throws were to underneath receivers, he completed 2 of 3 passes for 86 yards on throws of 20-plus yards down the field.

As long as Hoyer continues to manage games efficiently, thereís no reason to believe he canít put up half-way decent numbers until Jay Cutler returns to the lineup.

RB Jordan Howard, 63 offensive snaps, Rush: 23 - 111 - 0, Rec: 3 - 21 - 0 (4 targets)
It looks like the Chicago Bears have found its running back of the future. Jordan Howard will remember his first-ever NFL start for the rest of his life; a performance that included 111 yards on 23 carries and three catches for 21 yards.

Howard found success running in every which direction, behind an offensive line that run blocked better than it had all season. Thereís no doubt that Howard will continue to see the lionís share of the snaps until Jeremy Langford returns to the field in a few weeks.

If Howard continues to rack up yards, as we suspect he will this week against the Indianapolis Colts, the decision of who starts when Langford returns will be a very difficult one. Howard arguably is a better up-and-down rusher than Langford, and he also is a better pass-catcher than Langford, who has struggled with drops in his short career.

It Howard is available in your league, grab him immediately.

WR Eddie Royal, 36 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 111 - 1 (7 targets)
Eddie Royal has been the saving grace of the Chicago Bearsí offense. Royal was the Bearsí best receiver in Sundayís 17-14 win over the Detroit Lions. Royal caught seven of seven targets for 111 yards and one touchdown.

Royal once again looks to be one of the best slot receivers in football, returning to a form many of us forgot about after his two years in Chicago of being on and off the field.

Chicagoís offense, with Brian Hoyer under center, is set up perfectly for a receiver like Royal. Hoyer attempted 36 passes on Sunday, 33 of which came within 20 yards of the line of scrimmage. Unless the game plan changes in the coming weeks, thereís no reason to think Royal canít be a five-to-seven reception guy on a weekly basis.

WR Kevin White, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 55 - 0 (9 targets)
Kevin White on Sunday took another step forward in his growth as an NFL wide receiver, White caught six passes on nine targets for 55 yards. His nine targets led the team. White also left the game early due to an ankle injury. White is set to have an MRI on Monday on his injured ankle. So thereís bad with the good.

White, while he has not been the burner we all thought he would be, is making a name for himself as a steady pass-catcher in the middle of the field. Given how much Brian Hoyer has relied on the underneath route in his two starts, thereís no reason to think White cannot continue to rack up receptions, given heís able to stay on the field.

WR Alshon Jeffery, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 46 - 0 (5 targets)
Alshon Jeffery served as a great decoy in the Bearsí 17-14 win over the Lions. Jeffery is known for making big plays downfield. But no, not Sunday against Detroit. Jeffery caught only three passes on five targets for 46 yards. Jeffery only tied for third on the team in targets. The lack of production really doesnít have anything Jeffery is or isnít doing, it more so is because Brian Hoyer is more efficient throwing underneath. When Jeffery runs 15-plus yards down the field, he draws enough defensive attention to create space for pass-catchers like Kevin White, Eddie Royal and Zach Miller.

Donít expect this trend to change until opposing defenses adjust to Chicagoís willingness to move the ball in smaller increments.

TE Zach Miller, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 31 - 1 (3 targets)
Zach Miller very much was an afterthought of Chicagoís offense in Sundayís 17-14 win over the Detroit Lions. Miller only received three targets on the day, catching all three of those targets for 21 yards and one touchdown. Itís somewhat surprising to see Miller finish the game with only three catches, seeing as 33 of 36 Hoyer attempts came within 20 yards of the line of scrimmage.

Chicagoís offense still is finding itself after suffering injuries on the offensive line and at quarterback. When the dust settles, Miller more than likely will be standing in the middle of the field waiting to catch the football.