Shocker in the Motor City!

 

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Yesterday was one of the most bizarre NFL Sundays in recent memory, as several high-profile teams including the Vikings, Packers, and Jaguars succumbed to substantially weaker opponents. Unfortunately, our very own Patriots suffered the same fate, as they played atrociously in a 26-10 loss to the previously winless Lions.

Here are some takeaways from yesterday’s loss.

1. Tom Brady looked human 

Tom Brady was not his usual self last night, as he only threw for 133 yards (which was his lowest since a 2014 contest against the Bills, in which he only played the first half), and a touchdown, to go along with one interception. It’s possible to attribute his off-night to Detroit coach Matt Patricia’s familiarity with the Pats’ offense, and the inability of his receivers to get open, but Brady still wasn’t very efficient when he had opportunities. For example, with the Pats trailing by 13 with more than 7 minutes remaining in the game, Brady unnecessarily heaved a deep pass down the middle, which resulted in an interception by Detroit’s Darius Slay and ended the Patriots’ chances at a comeback. This was reminiscent of the ending of last week’s game against the Jaguars, when Brady fumbled late in the fourth quarter, which sealed the deal for Jacksonville. To be successful as the season progresses, the Patriots will need Brady to step up his game.

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

2. The offense needs help

As mentioned earlier, the Patriots’ wide receivers, along with Rob Gronkowski struggled mightily against the Lions’ defense, which was a surprise for me to see, as I thought that they would have success against Detroit’s defenders (as mentioned in my preview for the game). For opposing defenses, the game plan to counter the Patriots has become quite simple, because all they need to do is double Gronk, and they’ll probably experience varying levels of success. The Patriots’ stable of running backs was not very efficient either, with Sony Michel serving as the feature back and James White & Rex Burkhead contributing as well. White easily had the best performance of the three, as he had the team’s sole touchdown. The Pats will need to be cautious with Burkhead as the season progresses, as he suffered a neck injury just 2 weeks after suffering a concussion.

Josh Gordon’s debut as a Patriot and Julian Edelman’s return from suspension cannot come soon enough. 

gronk v lions
(Photo via AP)

3. The defense looked slow

The Pats’ defense continued their downward spiral against the Lions, as they could not stop either Matthew Stafford or Kerryon Johnson (who became the first Lion to rush for over a 100 yards since 2013). The pass rush was non-existent for the entirety of the game, which gave Stafford time to dissect the secondary. It was also extremely disturbing to see the utter lack of lateral speed for the Patriots’ defense, as key players such as Dont’a Hightower seemed to just be a step behind as they chased after the explosive Lions. It may be easy to dismiss this game as your typical Patriots September, but if the defense continues to play like this, the Patriots won’t get far this season.

pats defense v ions.jpg
(Photo via AP)

What’s nextThe Patriots host the division leading Miami Dolphins (3-0) in an absolute must-win.

 

Entering the Lion’s den!: Previewing the Pats’ Week 3 contest in Detroit

On Sunday Night Football, the Patriots head to the Motor City to take on the Detroit Lions and their former defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia. Both teams come off of disappointing losses in Week 2, and hope that a win tomorrow night can spur them in the right direction for the rest of the season.

Here are some things to look forward to during tomorrow’s contest.

1. Can the Pats’ defense rebound from last week?

Last week’s game in Jacksonville was not very successful for the Patriots’ defense, as they were absolutely inept against a very determined Jaguars offense. It was dispiriting to see the Jaguars advance down the field with absolute ease. Unfortunately for the Patriots, their Week 3 assignment will not be any easier, as they take on Matthew Stafford and the explosive Lions’ offense. The Lions offense has been a very inconsistent unit over the past 2 weeks, as they were decimated by the New York Jets in Week 1, during which Stafford threw 4 interceptions. Week 2 was a definite improvement for the Lions (even though they lost), as they nearly overcame a fourth quarter deficit to defeat Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers. 

As mentioned by New England cornerback, Eric Rowe, the Lions feature the best wide receiver corps the Pats have faced all season, as they have Marvin Jones, and Golden Tate who are probably licking their chops at the prospect of facing a Pats’ secondary that got dissected last week. 

To have a chance at limiting the Lions’ high-powered offense, the Pats should take a look at what the Jets did in Week 1, as they were able to consistently get after Stafford and force him to make key mistakes. To do so, the Pats will need to have a consistent pass rush and a much better performance from their secondary.

pats defense v lions.jpg
(Photo via USA TODAY)

McDaniels vs Patricia

The major schematic battle during tomorrow night’s game will be between former comrades, Matt Patricia and Josh McDaniels. As the two men worked closely for multiple years, they are most probably aware of each other’s preferences and weaknesses, which makes it interesting to wonder the ways in which both will exploit their knowledge of the other coach’s system. I also expect Patricia and McDaniels to tweak their game plans a fair amount in order to gain an edge. 

Switching the focus to the players on both teams, I think it’s fair to say that the Patriots offense should feel confident about their matchup against a short-handed Lions defense who may be playing without their best corner in Darius Slay. Rob Gronkowski, Chris Hogan, and the rest of the Pats’ playmakers should play much better than last week, as they are not facing a suffocating defense. It’s a stretch to expect new addition Josh Gordon to have a big role in tomorrow’s game, but he has had great success against the Lions in the past, as he totaled over 130 yards against them in 2013.

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(Photo by Winslow Townson/AP)

3. Other notes

a) RKK aiming for 300th win

If the Patriots emerge victorious tomorrow, it will be their 300th win under the ownership of Robert Kraft. This would be a remarkable accomplishment for Mr. Kraft, as he has been instrumental in helping lead the Patriots from being a laughing stock to the class of the league with 5 Super Bowl championships after purchasing the team in 1994.

rkk
(Photo via SI)

b) TB12 hopes to remain perfect against Detroit

Last week’s loss in Jacksonville snapped Tom Brady’s perfect record against the Jaguars, but a win tomorrow will make him 5-0 against the Lions. Interestingly enough, Brady and the Pats’ offense have outscored the Lions 127-66 in 4 previous matchups.

tb vs lins 1.jpg
(Photo via AP)

PredictionPatriots 31, Lions 17

 

Here are my predictions for the rest of the NFL’s Week 3 contests (excluding Thursday Night Football)

Saints at FalconsFalcons

Packers at RedskinsPackers

Colts at EaglesEagles

Bills at VikingsVikings

Raiders at DolphinsRaiders

Broncos at RavensRavens

Bengals at PanthersPanthers

Giants at TexansTexans

Titans at Jaguars: Jaguars

49ers at ChiefsChiefs

Chargers at RamsRams

Cowboys at Seahawks: Cowboys

Bears at CardinalsBears

Steelers at BuccaneersBuccaneers

 

News roundup: Josh Gordon, Matt Patricia & more!

Here are some of the latest headlines in the world of the Patriots.

 

1. Boom or Bust?: The Pats add Josh Gordon

One of the major takeaways from the Pats’ debacle against the Jacksonville Jaguars was that the offense appeared to lack a true playmaker at the wide receiver position who could take pressure off of Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady. The Patriots appeared to solve that problem when they acquired the talented (but troubled) Josh Gordon from the Cleveland Browns. Gordon has suffered from substance abuse for a majority of his life, which has resulted in him missing several seasons of action following the 2013 season when he led the NFL in receiving yards (including a 151 yard game against the Patriots). When it was announced that the Browns intended to get rid of Gordon, numerous people began connecting him to the Pats and joking about his possible success in the New England system.

Many analysts and pundits also compared the acquisition of Gordon to the trade for Randy Moss in 2007, but I don’t think that that is the right comparison, as Moss was heavily disgruntled in Oakland. On the other hand, Gordon has more problems in his personal life, and needs to find a way to fight the illness of addiction. Josh Gordon has the potential to either be the next Randy Moss or the next Chad Ochocinco, as his talent is undeniable, but he has to be able to adjust to the so-called ‘Patriots Way’ as well. To sum up my thoughts on Josh Gordon’s addition to the Pats’ offense, he should be able to serve as a dynamic playmaker on the field, but it’s no guarantee that he’ll be as effective as he was in 2013.

2. R-E-L-A-X

NFL fans would recognize this subtitle as the phrase famously coined by Aaron Rodgers following the Green Bay Packers’ slow start to the 2014 season. It’s always funny to see how pundits immediately turn against the Pats when they have a brutal loss to start their season, and this season is no different, as many people have already questioned if the Pats are now in panic mode. To those who are concerned, look at the following tweet.

The Pats always seem to have a clunker in the early phases of the season, but Bill Belichick and Co. usually find a way to weather the storm and compete in the playoffs. So, R-E-L-A-X!

3. New book alleges that Brady and Belichick’s relationship is worse than originally thought

In his new book, Belichick: The Making of the Greatest Football Coach of All Time, ESPN columnist, Ian O’Connor alleges that the relationship between Brady and Belichick is actually worse than what has been previously reported. One of the key points mentioned by O’Connor is that TB12 seriously considered not coming back to the Patriots this year, as he was tired of playing for Belichick, but he did not do so due to his undying passion for the game and the fear of alienating Patriots’ fans. I personally do not buy into the idea that there is that much friction between the two most important members of the Patriots organization, but it is worth reading the ESPN article attached below.

 

4. Patrica on Belichick and the Lions

Later on this week, the Pats head to Detroit to take on the Lions, and their former defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia, who have not had the greatest start to their season. Amidst the criticism, Patricia had an interesting conversation with ESPN, where he described Belichick’s influence, and his desire to not build the Detroit version of the Patriots.

Take a look at the article attached below.