Lions first half against Patriots could be precursor to a long, ugly season

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Jan 1, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) during the second quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Anyone that pays attention to the NFL preseason knows that the third game is usually the “dress rehearsal” for the regular season. This is the week that coaches use to mimic the regular season. They actually watch game film, do some game planning for their specific opponent, have their meetings just like a real week, and plan to play their starters all the way into the third quarter.

If that is the case, then there cannot be a Detroit Lions fan that feels optimistic about the upcoming season after seeing the first half that the Lions put together when they hosted the New England Patriots Friday night.

Detroit was sloppy, undisciplined, and seemed a step or two slower than New England on just about every inch of Ford Field.

And that was just the first nine minutes of the game!

Here are some of the early “highlights:”

  • On the Patriots opening drive, Detroit missed five tackles over two Julian Edelman catch-and-runs. Edelman got hurt, or he likely would have made all 11 of Detroit’s starting defensive players miss him eventually.
  • The Lions secondary could not seem to cover anybody. Tom Brady didn’t miss on a single pass this drive, and even when he couldn’t complete a pass deep in Lions territory to tight end Rob Gronkowski, it was because Tavon Wilson grabbed Gronk for a holding penalty.
  • To end that drive, Detroit rookie linebacker Jarad Davis stood there like a house by the side of the road (all apologies to the late, great Ernie Harwell for dragging him into this) while Brady hit Chris Hogan at the five yard line, who then walked untouched into the end zone.
  • Well, at least the Lions would get the ensuing kickoff, and see what Matthew Stafford and the offense could do. First play from scrimmage, Golden Tate catches a pass and gets the ball stripped while fighting for extra yards. New England recovers.
  • Care to guess what happened on the very next play? Brady to Hogan on a perfectly lofted sideline toss for a 32-yard touchdown.
  • On the ensuing drive the Lions actually got to third down, and Kenny Golladay (remember him?) ran his route short of the first down marker, forcing Detroit to punt.
  • Brady gets the ball back, and just picks Detroit’s defense apart. It features another pass to Gronk, and another penalty against him, this time a Quandre Diggs pass interference call.
  • And just to make sure that Lions secondary isn’t the only group getting yelled at in practice this week, the front seven allows Patriots running back Mike Gillislee to walk in untouched for another TD. He is listed as fifth on their depth chart. How does New England find these interchangeable running backs every year?

That made it 21-0 after just eight minutes and 12 seconds of play.

I understand that the Lions don’t dig very deep into their playbook for preseason games, but neither do the Patriots. In addition, that has nothing to do with bad passes, poor execution, penalties, dropped balls, or turnovers.

It was also the defending World Champions they were playing, but if the Lions are going to ask their fans to take them seriously, these are the types of teams they have to be able to at least compete against.

They didn’t even show up.

Ignore how close the final score was; almost all of Detroit’s points came long after New England’s defensive starters were planted firmly on the bench. The Lions got exposed by the Patriots, and if they don’t get a lot sharper in a short amount of time, there are a lot of teams in the first half of Detroit’s schedule that will do the same thing.