In a column now posted on ESPNBoston.com, it is noted that as good as the New England Patriots looked in their first two preseason games, they looked equally as bad Saturday night in their third preseason contest, a 34-10 loss to the Detroit Lions.
The question is what to make of it.
Proceed with caution when reading too much into the dismantling that unfolded at Ford Field. At the same time, also consider that maybe there was a little too much optimism based on the first two preseason routs.
This brings it back to the more appropriate middle ground.
What happened Saturday night is that the Lions, who viewed this game as a measuring stick to how far they've progressed in the third year of coach Jim Schwartz's regime, came out like this was their Super Bowl. The Patriots didn't respond accordingly. Quarterback Tom Brady was pummeled early and the rhythm of the offense was never established. The frustration of defenders boiled over on the field as the unit looked disjointed at all levels.
"You've got to be careful the way you look at it," said Schwartz, the Lions' coach, when asked about the lopsided result. "We say a lot of times in preseason that you want to see players win, you don't want to see scheme win. I think we saw some good matchups today and not just our first group against their first group, but a lot of times our two's matched up against their one's on defense, and sometimes some of our three's matched up and we won some of those battles."
Schwartz added that the most encouraging thing to him was that the Lions played mostly man-to-man, and with that, "you throw the score away and look at how the matchups went."
This was the most disappointing aspect of the Patriots' performance. It wasn't anything scheme related, but just man-to-man football, and the roster that has been touted as one of the NFL's deepest was losing much more than they were winning.
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