Before the game, his first as an NFL head coach, Matt Patricia bounced excitedly between his husky players, slapping their helmets and shoulder pads, as if he might join them in the field of battle. Bearded, stocky and dressed in all black, he looked like a guy who would serve you a hearty stout in an Irish pub, or captain a runaway pirate ship. He was feisty and fiery and ready to go, and the home crowd was, too.
And then the game started.
New fall, old stumble. The cool autumnal weather may have said “football,” but the performance said “Detroit Lions football,” and anyone who has watched this team for decades knows what that means. Amongst other things, it means opportunities blown, weaker opponents elevated, unknown players making names for themselves at Detroit’s expense, mistakes, more mistakes, and a long drive home at the end of the night.
I’m not one to doom a team to its past. But all that old stuff happened Monday night, in what was supposed to be a new start in a new era for the don’t-call-us-the-same-old-Lions.
First of all, the game was lost, 48-17, against the New York Jets. No, that’s not a typo. And this was at home.
Second, Matthew Stafford had one of his worst games as a Lion, four interceptions, most of them bad reads on his part.
Third, Ziggy Ansah went out with an injury (stop if you’ve heard that one before).
Fourth, the vaunted new parts of this team under Patricia, like the revamped running game, were all but nonexistent, and new Lions Kerryon Johnson and LeGarrette Blount gained less than 20 yards between them.
Fifth, the defense, already rumored to be suspect, made a lousy road team look like warriors. The Jets won one of eight games away from home last year, games in which they averaged a mere 14 points. Monday night, they scored 48.
Sixth, the special teams were absolutely atrocious, surrendering long returns, a punt-return touchdown, and missing two field goals.
Seventh, the Lions…
Ah, why bother? If you get to seven, you’ve passed depressing.
New fall, old stumble.