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Patriots vs.Lions: Fan Notes from the Game

Notes, musings, and observations from the New England Patriots’ 26-10 loss to the Detroit Lions.

New England Patriots v Detroit Lions Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Hoo boy.

Let’s just get this out of the way: the Patriots got embarrassed last night. They looked completely lost, they were sloppy, they got pushed around and out-muscled at absolutely every position, and had absolutely no business being on the field with the Lions last night.

The Lions. Yikes.

  • Was the Sunday Night Football intro always just one big ad for Pepsi, or is that a new thing? I legit don’t know, as I’ve actively tried to avoid the Faith Hill/Jewel/Pink/whoever preamble for a while now, but I was completely out of stuff to do by the time the game rolled around and made the mistake of tuning in.
  • If your name is Jim-Bob Cooter, you have exactly two career options: football coach or rider mower salesman. Glad to see that he made it.
  • Not glad to see him completely destroy the Patriots defense...but to be honest, I feel like I could have called a successful game plan last night.
  • New England really needs to stop receiving these opening kickoffs. Maybe that’s why they suck so bad right now.
  • The only thing worse than New England’s performance last night was that off-neon green whatever it is they decided to put on the field on third downs. It’s absurd and completely unnecessary. I would have loved to be in the production meeting when that green zone came into fruition. I feel like there was a guy who hadn’t contributed anything to the team since he was hired in the offseason and was on his last strike, so as a Hail Mary he just kind of threw out, “maybe we add another color to the screen?”
  • I may as well break down the offense now and get it over with.
  • ....Um...Stretch run for no gain? Blown up screen? One decent drive per game?
  • OK, that was easy. Moving on.
  • The big issue with the offense right now is that it’s incredibly predictable. Part of that is the early season jitters and everyone finding their stride, and another part of that is the lack of depth at receiver position. It’s nothing but stretch runs and screens, and then when those don’t work they have no choice but to go for a middle crosser. I have absolutely no worries about what this offense will do when the games start to matter, but right now the NFL is a pool and the Patriots keep dipping a toe in to see if it’s too cold.
  • Another real problem is how the receivers can’t get anything remotely close to resembling separation. There were plenty of plays last night where Tommy B had time to throw, but nobody was open.
  • New England, three and out. Opponent, long, sustained drive that ends in points. Sound familiar? Being a Pats fan in September stinks. October through February? Juuuust fine. But man...these first few games are always rough.
  • As for the defense...
  • Never thought I’d see LeGarrette Blount torching the Pats as a receiver.
  • I did, however, think I’d see receivers out in the flat go for big gains. Lateral movement is such an Achilles heel for these linebackers.
  • The Lions didn’t even need a third down on their first TD of the day. I don’t know what’s worse: September 2017 when receivers were 10 to 15 yards open, or September 2018 when teams are just imposing their will.
  • Kerryon Johnson averaged six yards per carry and have over 100 on the day. If that’s not bad enough, I can point to a handful of plays where all 200 pounds of him literally dragged Lawrence Guy, Danny Shelton, Malcom Brown, or sometimes all three for a few extra yards before he was brought down. I’m not sure how that’s even scientifically possible, but here we find ourselves.
  • NFL football in 2018 has absolutely zero flow. The 1st quarter took 20 minutes, the 2nd took six days, the 3rd took 25 seconds, and the 4th took an hour. What happens in between is a series of questionable flags, unwatchable commercials, a bunch of weird colors, and watered down play. Last year it took me until mid-October to start questioning if I had better things to do with my Sundays.
  • The red flag is officially up and waving furiously on Dont’a Hightower. He looks unbearably slow and constantly winded. The rust should be off by now and usually rust comes in the form of missed reads and muffed tackles. It doesn’t come in the form of getting smoked around the edge and getting shoved violently backwards on blitzes.
  • Sony Michel didn’t do much as a short yardage back, did he. I don’t know why they keep running off-tackle on those plays...either do the sneak or go up the gut.
  • Chris Collinsworth on Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford: “There’s just a difference when there’s a lady in the room, ins’t there?” Yikes, Chris. You can’t say things like that in 2018! I can think of a whole slew of college students that would be VIOLENTLY offended by that statement had they been watching the game last night instead of busy protesting Rice Krispies for discriminating against giants.
  • Through three weeks now, I can think of exactly one instance where anybody not named Tom Brady showed any kind of emotion on or off the field, and that was last night when Deatrich Wise sacked Matt Stafford to fire everyone up. On the very next play, Jahwan Bentley picked off Stafford to set up New England’s only touchdown of the day. As of right now, this team has no teeth. No toughness. Nobody not named Tom Brady getting riled up on or off the field. Nobody upset when an opponent marches right down the field with ease and scores. The defense looked like it was just kind of killing time before the game ended, and you never want to see that. Somebody needs to step up.
  • What may be most frustrating at the moment is that, every once in a while, the Patriots will look good. They play with urgency and passion and move the ball well. And then they remember to not give a crap anymore and go back to the stretch run and screen.
  • Man... Golden Tate would have been something else as a Patriot. I love that guy.
  • The great thing about a loss like this one is the smoking hot takes that are already coming from all angles. You have your typical Patriots fans who never grew up in the non-Brady era already calling for an end to the season. You have your media folks chasing clicks and pageviews with the end of days talk. I’m sure you have your Chiefs and Dolphins fans chirping away as they race towards their inevitable 9-7 finishes.
  • Today’s Fan Notes were negative, because the Patriots deserve negativity this morning. That said, I’m still very staunchly in the “Patriots Will Be Fine” camp.
  • That said... I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t occasionally looking across the lake at the ever-growing Camp Not Our Year and wondering what they’re serving for lunch tomorrow.

We’re on to Miami.