No one on the Patriots offense was able to get open for the entire game.
They weren’t able to get open against the Jacksonville Jaguars last week. They struggled to get open in the second half of the season opener against the Houston Texans. This includes Rob Gronkowski and every other player on the offense. Rex Burkhead suffered a neck injury and Sony Michel had to shoulder the load in his second game as a pro. Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, and Cordarrelle Patterson are ghosts. This was not good.
We all know the signs when Tom Brady is fed up with the game.
When he’s not even trying anymore. He throws moon shots into double- and triple-coverage to his favorite receivers because he wants something to happen. Brady started to attempt these passes to Rob Gronkowski and Phillip Dorsett early in the fourth quarter. That’s when the game was over.
On defense, the Patriots were atrocious, too.
The Lions had a 100-yard rusher in rookie Kerryon Johnson- who did it in a mere 16 carries.
Detroit hadn’t had a 100-yard rusher since Thanksgiving 2013. Dont’a Hightower looks like he’s stuck in molasses. The Lions were the third-consecutive team to target Keionta Davis when he was on the edge. The linebackers weren’t filling gaps and the defensive tackles weren’t holding the line.
The Detroit also used the same crossing patterns and in-routes and targets to running backs in coverage by linebackers that both the Philadelphia Eagles and the Jaguars used.
The Patriots didn’t have a response because the linebackers are too slow and the pass rush too nonexistent so the cornerbacks aren’t given enough time to react to the receiver changing direction.
There are some fundamental issues with this team. This isn’t a one-game sort of issue. They haven’t looked good since the first half of the first game.
There isn’t a player capable of winning one-on-one battles on offense, other than Rob Gronkowski, and that means teams can simply double Gronkowski and stop the entire offense, especially with the rushing attack not being productive. Maybe Josh Gordon will be able to help next week, and the return of Julian Edelman will definitely help.
The defense fell apart when Trey Flowers suffered a concussion against the Jaguars, but is he honestly the difference between a top defense and one that can’t force a punt until the fourth quarter? How many defenders make that much of a difference? I’d argue “none” since there are weaknesses and question marks all over the board. Bill Belichick and Brian Flores need to inject some creativity into the defense because teams are extremely comfortable attacking and moving the ball down the field.
The Patriots host the Miami Dolphins next week and this has become as close to a “must-win” game that ever exists in the first quarter of the regular season. The Dolphins are 3-0 and if they move to 4-0 and steal homefield from the Patriots in the head-to-head, then the Patriots will have an incredibly tough time taking back the division. New England hasn’t started a season 1-3 since 2001.
Only three teams over the past decade have made the postseason after posting a cumulative -20 point differential over the first three games. The Patriots are in a tough position.
Are there any bright spots from this game? Jonathan Jones looked good. So did Deatrich Wise, at times. But other than that, this was one of the worst displays by the Patriots in recent years.