August 30, 2011

Preseason Game 3 Notes: Lions 34 Pats 10


Well...that was terrible. The Patriots' "ultra-important" 3rd tune up game in Detroit was a re-run of their last three playoff games. Outworked. Out-Physicaled. All culminating in an eerily similar beatdown.

The good news? This was only a preseason game. The bad news? Everything else. Game notes from Lions-Pats after the jump.

DEFENSE REVERTS TO "PISS ALL OUR FANS OFF" MODE

Gone was the 4-3. Gone was the attacking defense. In its place came the dreaded "anti-pass rush cushion defense" of the past three years, only prompting Matt Stafford to throw two incompletions (one of which was dropped) on his way to a perfect 158.3 rating. Stafford had all day to throw, and he used that extra time to embarrass Kyle Arrington, Darius Butler (to be fair, that still would've happened without any pass rush), and even Devin McCourty.

If Calvin Johnson was the wideout doing all the damage, I would've given the Pats secondary a pass. But when screen passes and Nate Burleson make your D look like a Greg Robinson creation, something has to change. I don't think the Pats put their best defensive looks on display in this one.

PATS OFFENSE RUNS INTO SAME OLD PROBLEM

This was a pre-season game. Which means there was absolutely no excuse for Tom Brady getting smashed around in the pocket like that. If he wanted to take a mugging like that, he should've taken a trip down Michigan Avenue.

The Lions had 7 QB hits, 2 sacks, and got to Brady enough that he seemed very rattled...short-hopping throws and looking totally out of rhythm. I hate to blame the offensive line...but let's face it. They were letting him get mauled, especially right guards Dan Connolly (who injured his ankle) and Rich Ohrnberger (who were both matched up against Ndamukong Suh).

To be fair...he's tough for ANYONE to block. But the Pats have to come up with an effective counter to these teams (Giants, Ravens, Jets) that players who blow up the line and get to the QB. Whether running down their throats (which is easier said than done...seeing as the Pats O-line is better suited for pass protection), mixing in draws, or throwing more screens and short passes, something's got to change in New England's offensive attack. Because if we've learned anything about the Patriots over the past three years, it's that when teams get pressure on Brady, they tend to win.

The good news? There are very few teams that can get to Brady as often as the Lions did. And again...it was a preseason game. But the blueprint to stopping Tom Brady and company is there...and if mixed with the right personnel could bring yet another Super Bowl run to a screeching halt. New England must adapt.

EDELMAN V TATE

Tate didn't help himself much during this one...at least if he wants to keep his kick return duties. Whether blatantly protesting the new rule for kicking off from the 35...or simply being a complete idiot...Tates two terrible kick returns (14 and 13 yards) pretty much totally screwed the Patriots over from the get go. He did get some touches at WR...but not from Tom Brady. Taylor Price seemed to take his reps.

Meanwhile, Julian Edelman had a beast game as a kick and punt returner. He had a 32 yard kick return (probably taking Tates spot on the play), and a dazzling, juke-a-licious 26 yard punt run back.

Of all the bubble wideouts...it appears Tate will be the guy left out of the picture. Taylor Price had a great camp, as has special teams ace Matt Slater, and Julian Edelman helped his case tremendously with a couple of big returns. The time is running out for B-Tate.

A CINCO-OCHO (F) FOR OCHOCINCO

Wasn't a very good game for Chad. He got flagged for a terrible offensive pass interference where he was flattened by a Lions corner, dropped a tough catch where he was covered well, and then dropped an easy catch where he jumped for no reason. Other than that, he looked pretty lost. It'll take him a while to get the hang of this offense, especially without an off-season program to get him in tune with Brady...but he's got to start figuring things out soon. The pre-season...and the Boston media for that matter have not been to kind to him.

KING KONG SUH = DIRTY

I admire Ndamukong's fierce play. But this guy is slowly gaining a reputation as a dirty player. Whether its throwing himself at Brady while he's already on the ground, punching Logan Mankins in the helmet (somehow totally missed by the referees but not the announcers), beating up Jay Cutler (though any beating that primadonna takes is totally merited) or sacking Jake Delhomme by the face mask last pre-season, its clear that the guy is out there to intimidate the opposition...if not outright hurt them. If that's how he wants to play, than all power to him. But don't be surprised if a dirty cut-block cuts his career short.

JASON HANSON IS STILL ALIVE

Season number nineteen and counting as the Lions' kicker, the 2nd longest tenure for any player with one team. And you thought Matt Turk was old.

Keep your eye out for Patriots-Giants game notes on Friday morning.

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