O’HARA’S BURNING QUESTIONS: What led to disappointing preseason debut?

Burning questions: A disappointing start to the preseason for the Detroit Lions with a no-show offense that couldn’t move the ball and a defense that couldn’t make stops in the first half, pressure on the quarterbacks, backups playing most of the way in a 31-3 loss to the New England Patriots at Ford Field on Thursday night.

Question: Was the 20-0 deficit the Lions faced at halftime as bad as it looked?

Answer: No. It was worse.

Q. What made it worse?

A. The way the Patriots thoroughly dominated the first 30 minutes, and what the Lions did and didn’t do made it worse. The margin could have been even worse. In fact, it probably should have been.

Q. Excuse: Are there any reasons to explain why the Lions’ performance doesn’t necessarily mean they were as bad as the score indicated?

A. Yes. Plenty of them. But the game has to be taken at face value and on its own merits. And in that regard, it didn’t look good. One loss – even a bad one – doesn’t mean there’s no hope for the season. But there’s a lot of work to do.

View photos from the Detroit Lions vs. New England Patriots Preseason Week 1 game at Ford Field on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019 in Detroit.

Q. Biggest problem offense: What was it?

A. Pass protection was terrible, and so was the entire offense.

Quarterback Tom Savage started the game and was sacked three times before leaving with an injury, and it didn’t get any better with his replacement, David Fales, in the game. Fales was sacked three times and had a pass intercepted when he threw the ball directly into the hands of Patriots defensive end John Simon.

The Lions had only three first downs and 28 yards in the first half.

Q. Biggest problem defense: What was it?

A. Playmaking. There wasn’t much by the Lions – pass rush, or coverage.

The Patriots made plays almost at will. A prime example of that were the two touchdown passes caught by Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers in a span of 4:05 in the first half. He beat safety Miles Killebrew for a three-yard catch on the first one and cornerback Mike Ford on a five-yard catch on the second.

Q. Starters out: Quarterback Matthew Stafford was one of many starters who didn’t play for the Lions. Does not having the starting quarterback give the offense an excuse for not playing well?

A. Only to a point. Tom Brady didn’t play for the Patriots, and the Patriots rolled up 14 first downs and 282 yards with Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham dividing the playing time the first half.

There were starters for both teams who didn’t play at all or played briefly. It’s only fair to judge the performance of the players on the field, and it was a dreadful performance by the Lions.

The only way the Lions make up for their performance against the Patriots is to play better next week at Houston.

If they don’t, there will only be more questions to answer.

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