Four Downs with DJK: Patriots at Lions
Week 3 in the NFL brought the New England Patriots to Detroit, Michigan to take on the Lions, with new Head Coach Matt Patricia, the former Patriots Defensive Coordinator and three-time Super Bowl Champion in his tenure with the Patriots.
In short, this was September New England Patriots at their peak. The highlight of today's game once again being coverage sacks.
The final score ended up being 26-10 in the Lions' favor, leading both teams to a dismal 1-2 record.
So let's break it down:
By the end of the first half, the Patriots were losing the time of possession battle in perhaps a way I've never witnessed, to the tune of 23 minutes of offense for the Lions and seven minutes for the Patriots. Now, if you're Chip Kelly, that means nothing, and sometimes points can be scored really quickly. But this wasn't the case. The Patriots offense was constantly going three-and-out, and the biggest problem with this is it doesn't allow your defense to rest. By the end of the game, the time of possession battle favored Detroit 39:15 to 20:45, which is absolutely a recipe for a loss.
My oh my, I hate to say bust already so I won't go there, but wow, does this rookie need some work. Between dropping passes and numerous third-and-one unsuccessful conversions, he just can't seem to find a rhythm in this offense yet. Obviously, it would be unfair to call his career dead after two NFL games, but all of the above as well as a measly 3.6 yards per carry, he really shouldn't touch the ball more than five times a game until he figures out the NFL. Granted, not all of this is his fault. The offensive line has been absolutely atrocious and line coach Dante Scarnecchia certainly needs to come up with something to get the big boys to start playing rough and tough. He's gotten a lot of credit for turning their offensive line around when he came back to New England in 2014, so he deserves some of the blame when they perform poorly.
I don't understand why the Patriots haven't figured this out yet, without Edelman or even now Josh Gordon in the lineup (also subtract Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola, who left for new teams in this past offseason), Rob Gronkowski will be double covered almost every single play. Why? Simple: Cordarrelle Patterson and Phillip Dorsett can't run routes to save their lives, and Chris Hogan can't beat a number one cornerback. They need to figure something out until Gordon and Edelman can come back. Perhaps getting running back James White more involved in the passing game would be a good idea. He's an amazing threat out of the backfield and even holds the Super Bowl record for most catches (14) by any player of any position in Super Bowl history.
The amount of talent in the NFL this year seems to be higher than ever, making even a normally middle-of-the-road Lions start out 0-2 prior to tonight. I can easily remember a 2014 Lions team that made the playoffs that was just about as good as this one. Take a look at this year's NFC powerhouse LA Rams: they seem to have Pro Bowl-caliber players at every position, same as the Philadelphia Eagles. The Patriots don't have a roster like 2014 anymore either. There's no Darrelle Revis, there's no Chandler Jones, no Jamie Collins, and no big play Danny Amendola. All the Patriots really have, right now, is Brady and Gronk, and it's showing big time.