The Patriots visited Detroit to take on the Lions for their third preseason tilt of the year, and were unceremoniously dumped 40-9 by the home team. This dropped New England to 2-1 on the preseason, and we are now only two short weeks away from the beginning of the 2013 regular season.
Shortly after the game ended, I gave my “quick hit” takeaways from the contest, this can be read by simply clicking here.
However there was a lot to digest from the game, so here are 10 additional thoughts of mine concerning the Patriots and their horrid performance.
1. Second Team Defense Forgot How To Tackle
One of the few bright spots from the Patriots perspective was how the first team defense performed in half number one of this game. But the second unit was just horrible. For some reasons the front seven forgot how to rush the passer and tackle the running back. Joique Bell racked up 52 yards on only five carries against this second unit, and while he is a talented back that deserves a lot of the credit, he should not have gained that much yards. The Pats forgot how to play defense for the third quarter of this game, and it really contributed to the whole tone of the contest from the Patriots point of view.
2. No Playing Time For Tebow
Third string quarterback Tim Tebow did not see the field once in this loss, and I think that this is a pretty good indication that he may not make the final roster in New England. Tebow has had a forgettable preseason, and it may cost him his job with the Patriots.
3. Blount And Slater On Kickoff Return Instead Of Washington
Kickoff return specialist Leon Washington did not return the first couple of kicks in this contest. In his place were wide receiver Matthew Slater, and running back LeGarrette Blount. This may just be a case where coach Belichick wanted to experiment a little bit, but never the less, it will be something to keep an eye on as the final roster cuts loom.
4. Jamie Collins Played In Base D, While Jerod Mayo Played In Sub-Packages
Rookie Jamie Collins once again proved his versatility by playing a majority of the game at Jerod Mayo’s outside linebacker spot in the 4-3 defense. Mayo then replaced Collins (or played by his side) when it came time for the nickel package to trot out onto the field. This may be another case of experimenting by the coaching staff, but it was definitely a weird scene to be seeing Mayo coming onto the field just for the sub-packages. However, I was impressed yet again with the rookie Collins. He has tremendous athletic ability to go along with some good instincts, and he seems to fit in well as a linebacker in the base 4-3 defense.
5. Ryan Mallett Uneven Performance
If Mallett wants a starting job in this league, he is going to have to prove it during the preseason, and for the second time in three games he didn’t perform as well as needed. At times he seemed to be in total control of the offense, making some terrific throws down-field, and then at other times he would miss simple check down tosses, and make some questionable decisions. One of his biggest weakness’ is his consistency, and it showed in the loss to Detroit. Mallett completed 11 of 22 passes for 96 yards and a touchdown.
6. Aaron Dobson Slightly Better
Dobson had pretty much disappeared from the offense in the previous two preseason matchups, totaling four catches for 65 yards in those games. Last night he managed to squeeze his way into the offensive game-plan a little bit, as both Brady and Mallett targeted him more than they did in the last two weeks. Dobson finished with four catches for 50 yards in the game, and flashed his incredible hands on an impressive catch over the middle in the first half. However he still did not show the ability to separate from his defender, and that will continue to be a problem for him as his career begins to unfold in the NFL.
7. Adrian Wilson Slips On The Depth Chart
Safety Devin McCourty was back in action last night, but surprisingly Steve Gregory was the guy to start next to him, instead of the expected Adrian Wilson. In fact, Wilson played deep into the game, much more than any other expected starter went. I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but situations like this usually won’t end up spelling out any good news for Wilson.
8. Connection Between Thompkins And Brady
I know that I touched on this last night shortly after the game came to a conclusion, but the connection that has formed between Thompkins and Brady is very impressive. Rarely do you see a rookie come in and gain the trust of Brady so quickly. I expect this rapport between them to continue to grow and improve, and result in even more production on the field.
9. Zoltan Mesko All But Seals Up The Punting Competition
The competition between rookie Ryan Allen and veteran Zoltan Mesko may have finally come to an end. Mesko got four of the five punts in this game, and all four of them were quality boots. Ryan Allen had a 53 yarder, but a lot of that came after the ball hit the ground and rolled for 15 yards or so. Allen is a talented punter, and I am sure he will find a job punting in the NFL soon, I just don’t think it will be with New England.
10. Detroit Still Undisciplined
The Lions have built up a reputation over the last couple of years as being the ‘dirty’, and ‘undisciplined’ team of the league. Well, they proved that thinking in their win over the Pats as they racked up 11 penalties that totaled over 100 yards. Smart teams don’t commit two or three ‘unsportsmanlike conduct’ penalties a game, and that is exactly what this group does, week in and week out.