Even though only the angriest trolls and cluelessest pinkhatters put any stock in preseason fauxball, obviously you hate to play as badly as the Pats did last night. Not to sound like a guy inexplicably trying to sell 4G phones to preschoolers, but what’s better? Playing well? Or playing like shit? (It’s not complicated.) Even in fake football, Winning has been around the world while Losing 40-9 is still putting its pants on. But in all honesty, I’d rather lose a fauxball game than win it the way the Lions did, with all their blatant, shameless punkassery. I am not joking. And this is not me whining about them dishing out cheap shots or hits after the whistle, which they did. (Detroit had 2 personal fouls in the 1st quarter, after picking up 3 last week against Cleveland). I’m talking about all the preening and pimping, the sack dances and spikes and chest thumping like this was their Super Bowl. Which I suppose it was. When you’re coming off a year in which you were the trendy pick in the league and went 4-12, and when you’re the only team your conference that has never been to an actual Super Bowl, I guess this is how you react. You go all Thug Life like you’re the 1987 Miami Hurricanes. You treat a game in August against a true winner like it’s a T-shirt & Hat game and some 4th year slapdick backup D-lineman sticks his finger in the face of the best quarterback he’ll ever lay eyes on. I’m all about playing with emotion and God knows Detroit played with more of it than the Pats did. But all that douchebaggery proved why one franchise is a dynasty and the other is arguably the absolute worst of the last 50 years. And not about to change any time soon.
A few other fun facts about how meaningful this game was: The last time Detroit blew the Pats out in preseason was 2011, when the Pats went to the Super Bowl. It was the worst fauxball loss the Pats have had since the last game of 2004 when Jacksonville beat them 31-0. All they did that year was go 14-2 and win it all. And finally, the year the Lions went 0-16 they were undefeated in fake games. So congratulations to them on crushing the Patriots last night. Enjoy your parade through your bankrupt, desolate, abandoned hellscape of a city.
A few random observations from last night:
*It’s hard to get too cheesed off about a game… even a blowout loss… where the defense kept having to run out on the field after red zone turnovers and still held for the most part. The things that plagued them the last four years or so looked actually pretty solid last night. They held Detroit to 2-of-9 on 3rd down conversions. And three of those stops came inside their own 20. Sure, Detroit was playing without Calvin Johnson, but the Pats went without Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo only subbed in on a handful of dime packages. Granted it wasn’t vintage 2003, but it’s something.
*And aside from the obligatory ticky-tack “Illegal Use of Good Pass Coverage” penalty they like to call so much, Aqib Talib threw an Invisibility Cloak over his assignments.
*Adrian Wilson, not so much. A lot is being made out of what a bad sign it is that a veteran like him was on the field with the scrubs in the 4th. But it seemed to me like he played two different positions. In the first half, he was the Big Nickel safety they’ve been trying to find ever since Tank Williams in 2009 and John Lynch whenever his cup of coffee was. He played up with the linebackers as a run stopper/ spy on the tight ends and backs on pass plays. With the 2nd and 3rd units, he seemed to be getting reps as a traditional Cover-2 deep guy, something I assume they’ll only have him do if there’s a calamity back there. He’s their last option before Julian Edelman or bringing Troy Brown back. I’m just spit balling, but that’s what my eyes tell me.
*Wilson got torched twice by Reggie Bush cutbacks. There can’t be repeats of that or we might as well bring back Pythagorus Meriweather for half the cap hit.
*Our weekly dose of Brady Injury Panic was him grabbing his left hand after getting hit with a helmet and I was terrified it was sprain of some kind. But then they showed the blood running down his hand and for a second there I assumed it was Stigmata. But Tebow came over, inspected it, declared it was just a garden variety boo boo and he was good to go.
*For a minute there I had visions of Mr. Kraft calling down to the sidelines asking why Brady’s not wearing a left hand brace full time.
*And as far as Brady trying to stick his nose in to make a tackle after a fumble, I’m all set. Once is enough to last me the rest of my life, thanks.
*Apart from Studfeld’s fumble, a 3rd down drop by Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson’s Scooby Doo-running-into-Shaggy-like route where the pass got picked off, overall it was another promising night from the rookie pass catchers. Again we saw Thompkins realigning the slot guy, which shows he grasps the playbook. And his ability to defeat press coverage, juke a defender and get into his route is uncanny. I mean, on some of those routes, he got off the line untouched, leaving corners grabbing nothing but air. It makes you wonder how the cops managed to catch him all those times.
*I think Ryan Mallett is about what you can reasonably expect a career backup to be. He shows flashes of brilliance, then looks like he couldn’t hit the stack of milk bottles at the Marshfield Fair. He’ll follow up a crisp, on-the-money throw on a deep curl by hitting a guy in the shins on a simple open slant. And he had a chance to take Thompkins to paydirt on a Go route where he got a step on his man up the sidelines, but ran him out of bounds. I’m not ready to declare he can’t ever be good. But his best look is in a headset. And his best accessory is a clipboard.
*The O-line got dominated, plain and simple. Granted they were deep into the depth chart there and Detroit is loaded up front. But it wasn’t all your Will Sviteks, Matt Stankiewitchs and Josh Klines getting beat either. Nate Solder and Seabass were getting driven back and run around on the regular by a Kellogg’s Variety Pack of rushers. Of course the line looked like the Arizona-Mexico border last year at this time, and they were great all season, so it is what it is.
*If I didn’t say didn’t make conscious decisions to watch Jake Becquette, I’d never notice Jake Becquette. For an O-lineman or a long snapper, that’s good. For a second year defensive end who was a healthy scratch all year? Not so much.
*James Develin is their annual exercise in Having a Fullback on the Roster futility. He didn’t do much blocking. Got stoned on a 4th & short rush attempt. And running the wedge on a return (along with I think Steve Beauharnais but I wasn’t taking notes) he got completely blown up and the returner got dropped where he stood. When they’ve already got five useful backs, it’s hard to like Develin’s chances.
*You had to love Adrian Wilson bitching out Duron Harmon after a TD pass. Calling out the rookie on a blown coverage is the savvy veteran move.
*Do the math. Tim Tebow plays twice, they win twice. Tebow sits, they get blown out. All he does is win. @JerryThornton1