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MORSE: Observations from the Patriots’ Victory Over the Lions

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
2 months ago at 12:31 pm ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

MORSE: Observations from the Patriots’ Victory Over the LionsBob Breidenbach / USA TODAY NETWORK

I expected a big win by the Patriots and that was exactly what they went out and did.  Detroit had the worst defense in the league, giving up an average of 35 points a game.  During the game, they lost 5 defensive backs.  By the end of the game, they were playing players in their secondary that were not in the NFL earlier in the week.  On Offense, Detroit had 9 of 11 starters Questionable and missed part or all of practice last week.  So keep everything in perspective when evaluating this win.  Don’t get me wrong, this was a great win, a well-needed win.  The Patriots are just plain better.

  • The Defense won this game. They stopped Detroit on all 6, fourth-down plays.  Detroit’s kicker was hurt and Head Coach Dan Campbell didn’t trust him to kick.  This was the 1st time in NFL history that a team stopped all 6 fourth-down plays in a game.
  • Rhamondre Stevenson was an absolute beast running for 161 yards on 25 carries. The Patriots ran for a total of 176 yards, 11 yards over the average that Detroit was giving up.  I will also add that Stevenson was terrific in Blitz pickup, helping to keep Bailey Zappe clean and without a sack all game.
  • A hamstring injury to Damien Harris left the Patriots precariously thin at RB. They decided to only dress 2 RBs and made Pierre Strong inactive.  That was a very dangerous decision and one they should not have made.  I would have made OG Chase Hines inactive or one of the 6 WRs that were active.
  • Huge game for Kyle Dugger. He had the 59-yard fumble scoop and score off the Matt Judon strip sack.  He was also responsible for helping to shut down Detroit TE TJ Hockenson.  They held him to 1 catch.  Dugger also had a big tackle for loss in the 1st series fighting through a double-team block and making the tackle on a WR screen.
  • Matt Judon was in Lion’s backfield all day. He was credited with 2 sacks and numerous QB hurries.  One time the Lions tried to use TJ Hockeson blocking one-on-one versus Judon.  That was a total mismatch and Judon ended up with a sack.
  • In his post-game press conference, Nick Folk received plenty of praise from Coach Belichick. Belichick said it’s not easy kicking in the swirling wind of Gillette stadium.   He went on to say the wind was cutting directly across the field from the Patriots’ sideline to the Lions’ sideline.  That was good for 5 Field Goals.
  • But the 5 FGs meant the Patriots left 20 points on the Field. I was concerned early that they were settling for FG rather than getting TDs and that was keeping Detroit in the game.   That was until the Judon strip sack and Dugger 59-yard scoop and score.
  • The Patriots’ game plan worked perfectly. Run the ball down the throats of the Lions.  Use play-action passes once the run game is established for big chunk passing plays.  Control the clock and build a lead.  Make Detroit one-dimensional as they had to chase the score and abandon the run game.  The plan was to shut down Hockenson which they did.   The coaching staff kept it simple and clean for the third-string QB starting his 1st
  • Bailey Zappe was near perfect. His stat line of 17 of 21, 188 yards 1 TD, 1 INT, and no sacks.  He was credited with 5 official yards rushing but it was +10 yards before two kneel downs for -5.  I loved seeing Bailey climb the pocket and step into throws.  The credit for keeping a clean pocket goes to the O-line.  The Interception was not Zappe’s fault but a drop by Agholor at the 45 into the defender’s hands.  If that was completed, Zappe would have been 18-21 for over 200 yards and they were moving towards another score.  I was so impressed with his poise and patience.
  • The Patriots had 15 QB pressures on the 36 dropbacks by Goff.
  • Speaking of Agholor, what was he doing trying to catch that pass in his body? Catch it with your hands.  That’s 3 turnovers by Agholor in 5 games.  Will Belichick put him in the doghouse as he did Kendrick Bourne?  It was reported that Agholor injured a hamstring.
  • Jakobi Meyers was dearly missed. He had 7 catches on 8 targets for 111 yards.  Terrific boost from having him back.  He is just the opposite of Agholor.  He catches everything with his hands and is not fast but reliable.  Need to start thinking about re-signing him for a long-term contract before he gets to Unrestricted Free Agency.
  • Injuries for Detroit were a considerable factor in this game. As I said in my preview article, watch the injury reports and see who will end up playing.  On Offense, they were missing D’Andre Swift and DJ Chark.  Many other players came back after missing time during the week so they were not 100%.  I have never seen 5 Defensive backs get hurt in one game.
  • The only regular they had in their secondary at the end of the game was Jeff Okudah and he was terrible (2 Pass Interference calls), especially against Parker. Pro Football Focus said this was the 2nd worst game of his career.  He was 2-4 when passed and had a rating of 28.5 which might be the worst of the week for the entire league.
  • Don’t feel sorry for Detroit, the Patriots have their fair share of injuries at this time of year. They got Tyquan Thornton back but lost starting RB Damien Harris.
  • The Detroit Defense was so inept, they had no sacks and just 2 QB pressures despite liberally blitzing the Patriots’ young rookie 3rd string QB. Trent Brown owned Aidan Hutchison.  I loved how Zappe gave Hutchison a little shimmy shake of the shoulders and Hutchison flew by him.
  • Zappe does play action very well for a player that never took a snap under center until he entered the pros.
  • The Patriots’ secondary played magnificently as I thought they would. It was a combined effort of pressure on the QB by the front seven and great coverage in the secondary.  Jack Jones is quickly establishing himself as a defensive force, with his second INT in as many games and a nice Pass Breakup in the end zone on a desperation throw by Goff.  On the INT, they saw the wheel route on video and Jack Jones played a loose coverage on his man going to the end zone.  Hockenson beat the LB and appeared to be open but Jack Jones left his man and made the INT.  That was some good coaching and preparation.
  • My wife was impressed with Jones too because she heard Jones this and Jones that. She didn’t realize there were three Joneses in the secondary.  I think they are the new “Law Firm” of Jones, Jones, and Jones.
  • Belichick owns Goff. He was 19-32 for 229 yards but that wasn’t nearly enough.  Goff often panicked.  Josh Reynolds had a good game with 6 catches for 92 yards.

There was a huge cheer from the crowd calling out Zappe, Zappe, Zappe at the end of the game.  Quite the kudos for the rookie QB.  Let’s all not get too Zappe Happy, he is the 3rd string, rookie and he might get another start in CLE, but Mac Jones is the starter when he is ready to return.  Zappe’s performance is great news for the team’s future.  I think that the team will feel more comfortable giving Jones another game or two off to heal up.


Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: 2022 Patriots Season Detroit Lions New England Patriots

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