Patriots fans got to see somewhat of a repeat of last week’s blowout in Tampa Bay, only this time it was the Patriots on the receiving end of the beat down. The Lions beat the Patriots in all three phases of the game, with their offense putting up 34 points, 27 of which came in the first half, and their defense holding the Patriots to only 10 points. Tom Brady was harassed all night by the Lions’ front four, getting sacked twice by Cliff Avril and hit on virtually every drop back.
Here are my initial observations:
- It’s tough to point the finger at one offensive lineman because Tom Brady felt pressure from the left, right, and up the middle. Matt Light seeing his first action of the preseason at left tackle, looked slow and got beat on a few speed rushes, which was always the knock on him. Sebastian Vollmer was also uncharacteristically beat on a few occasions, and Rich Ohrnberger was completely outmatched filling in for an injured Dan Connolly (who didn’t do too well while he was in the game) at right guard.
- Tom Brady was obviously rattled being under so much pressure that he missed some easy throws. There was even an occasion or two where a blitz was picked up but Brady hurried the throw and skipped it at the feet of his intended target. Do you think the rest of the NFL was watching?
- Chad Ochocinco doesn’t seem to be any closer to being on the same page as Tom Brady. He was targeted four times in the game and didn’t come up with a single catch. One pass from Brian Hoyer simply bounced right off of Ocho’s hands. That wasn’t being uncomfortable with the playbook, that was just generally being uncomfortable.
- The defense looked like vintage 2010 with its pass rush and pass coverage. Matthew Stafford barely got any turf skids on his jersey. The Lions opened up with some screen plays which put the defense on its heels and slowed down the attack, which then lead to deeper shots down the field.
- What may be even more troubling and worrisome about the defense was the seeming lack of communication and confusion among the back seven. You could see players, like Jerod Mayo and Patrick Chung for example, arguing after a big Lions play. Guys were obviously missing assignments or not communicating adjustments properly. Not what you want to see in the third preseason game from your starters.
- Julien Edelman returning punts was one of the lone bright spots of the night. He’s very shifty and excels at making guys miss in space. If he’s healthy (see below), he could make a guy like Brandon Tate dispensable.
- Injuries from the game will be something to monitor going forward. Dan Connolly injured his right ankle, Wes Welker injured his neck while making a tackle on a Brady INT, Julien Edelman injured his hand, and Jonathon Wilhite had an undisclosed injury but was clearly banged up on a play where he broke up a pass.
- Bill Belichick was obviously unhappy in his post-game press conference. He put a lot of blame on himself. “Well, no question about who the better team was tonight. I think that, obviously, I did a poor job of having this team ready to play and we didn’t do really anything very well, in any phase of the game — certainly not good enough to win,” Belichick said. “…I don’t feel very good about the job that I did…Obviously, we were not coached very well and we didn’t play very well.”