FIRST DOWN: IS DEPTH AN ISSUE?
The majority of Detroit’s starters didn’t play Thursday night in their preseason opener, but neither did most of New England’s starters.
Thursday’s preseason opener was mostly a matchup of depth players on the roster.
Should there be concern about Detroit’s depth at certain spots after Thursday’s 31-3 preseason loss to New England?
“We have to do a better job of going out and competing,” Lions head coach Matt Patricia said.
“A lot of these guys that had an opportunity tonight, they have to go out and play well. That’s the bottom line. It’s your opportunity to go out there and show us what you can do.”
The reserve offensive linemen gave up eight sacks in the game. Reserve tackles Tyrell Crosby and Andrew Donnal didn’t play particularly well.
There were multiple dropped balls by reserve wide receivers.
Patriots wide receivers ran free for most of the night, signifying that Detroit has some work to do in the secondary with some of the reserves. Detroit’s defensive line generated one sack in the contest, and little in the form of consistent pressure from any of their reserves.
Quarterback David Fales wasn’t particularly sharp in his Lions debut (5-of-14 passing).
The NFL season is a long one, and it’s not a matter of if injuries will happen but when. At some point in the season most backups will be counted on to step in and contribute. Thursday wasn’t a good start for a lot of those guys.
SECOND DOWN: IMPROVING TACKLING
Training camp nowadays isn’t like training camp of old. There are no two-a-day practices and full-blown tackling drills are almost nonexistent.
Inevitably, players are going to be rusty early in the preseason and maybe even into the start of the regular season with the starters.
Coaches can teach techniques, approaches and angles, but going out onto the field and doing it at full speed in a game situation is completely different.
Detroit had a lot of missed tackles Thursday night.
“We certainly needed the live reps tonight, because I agree, we have to do a better job (tackling),” Patricia said. “I think we had some opportunities in there that we missed for probably some big plays if we were able to kind of complete some of that tackling.”
THIRD DOWN: CONSISTENCY NEEDED
Veteran cornerback Justin Coleman was the first to bring it up earlier this week that the Lions had an uneven week of practice in joint sessions with the Patriots.
Coleman described Detroit’s energy for Monday’s first practice as “flat.” He said they were better Tuesday, but there’s the old adage that a team plays like they practice.
Inconsistency on the practice field can certainly lead to the type of performance we saw from Detroit Thursday.
“I would say for us it’s just about being consistent,” Patricia said. “We talk about that a lot. I would say as we went through the course of this week maybe good day, better day and obviously not a good day today. It’s about just doing that every single day.”
View photos from the Detroit Lions vs. New England Patriots Preseason Week 1 game at Ford Field on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019 in Detroit.
FOURTH DOWN: INTERFERENCE CHALLENGE
The NFL expanded instant replay this offseason to include the ability for coaches to challenge pass interference calls.
Patricia got his first opportunity to do so in the third quarter on a deep pass from quarterback David Fales intended for rookie wide receiver Travis Fulgham that went incomplete. There was some contact on the play from Patriots cornerback Joejuan Williams, who also didn’t look back for the ball.
The challenge went to review and the officials in New York decided the contact wasn’t enough to reverse the call. Looking at the play in slow motion, it appeared the incompletion was more a result of Fulgham not tracking the ball than the contact from Williams.
“I think right now in the preseason I think a lot of us coaching wise are just trying to figure out how this is all going to be officiated,” Patricia said. “Any opportunity I thought would come up in the game or maybe would be an opportunity for them to take a look at it and see how they officiate it, I wanted to try and get that situation.”
Patricia wanted to get an idea of what the officials will be looking at on those interference challenges and how they’ll evaluate it.
“Honestly, for us, it’s more of getting on the page of how they’re going to officiate that and try to get as much information as possible now that when we get to the season we know really which way it’s going to go,” Patricia said.