Sometimes the eye test is right, and that was the case from the start of the Detroit Lions' performance in Friday night's loss to the New York Giants.
By the eye test, the Giants looked quicker, better and fresher than the Lions, and it showed in the final score – a 30-17 win for the Giants.
What we learned is that what we saw is what we got. The Lions played like a team that's still building its conditioning level. Head coach Matt Patricia alluded to it in his postgame press conference, and it was something he noticed right from the start – and something he has to correct.
Among the other things we learned is that the race between Matt Cassel and Jake Rudock to be the backup quarterback looks different after two games than it did a week ago, ball security is worrisome even when there isn't a turnover, the Lions are behind in the sack race, and how a player like Hakeem Valles can leave the locker room feeling on top of the world after a preseason loss.
We start with Matt Patricia's take on his team:
He didn't call it a tired team, but one that is still working to get where he wants it to be.
"It really didn't look like we were tired," Patricia said. "I'll look at the film and evaluate that, but from a conditioning standpoint it looks like we're moving in the right direction. We're not there. We're not there. We haven't arrived as far as that is concerned.
"Hopefully we'll be able to keep kind of building the reps, building the game reps, and we work towards that goal of hopefully being ready for a full game."
Jake's take: Cassel began training camp with a head start on being the backup to starting quarterback Matthew Stafford. That might still be the case after two games – and maybe not. Rudock's five pass attempts in two seasons with the Lions won't match Cassel's 14 seasons of experience.
Rudock had relieved Stafford in the first half, then given way to Cassel in the second half before being sent back in to finish out the game.
"Coach's thing is 'be ready,'" Rudock said. "Whenever the coach says go in we go in."
For the game he completed 23 of 33 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown. He ran a yard for the final TD, with 26 seconds left.
Rudock's passer rating was 100.8. Cassel completed six of nine for 43 yards with an interception that was not his fault. A ball slithered through TJ Jones' hands to a Giants defender.
Rudock didn't win the game – the deficit was too wide for that to happen – but he was efficient.
"You trying to win the play every time you can," he said. "That's all you can focus on. But obviously, the most important thing is the score.
"I felt like we were moving the ball pretty decent at the end. We were able to go down and get two scores. That was good. It's hard to say anything good. We didn't perform up to our standard."
Bobbles: Ameer Abdullah has had problems with fumbles at times in his first three seasons, and he had two Friday night. He dropped the ball after taking a handoff on a running play, and he dropped it again on a kickoff return.
Abdullah recovered the ball both times, but the fumbles were not a good sign.
Neither was the pass that went through Jones' hands for an interception that gave the Giants the ball at the Lions' 12 in the third quarter. Two plays later, the Giants had a touchdown and a 17-3 lead.
Sack exchange: There's still work to do on the pass rush and in pass protection. For the second straight game the Lions did not have a sack, and they had only two quarterback hits. That's three hits in the two games.
The Giants had six hits and four sacks. That means the Lions' two opponents have a 16-3 edge in quarterback hits and 8-0 in sacks.
Father's night: Tight end Hakeem Valles was getting congratulations from teammates as he left the locker room, and they weren't because of what he put on the stats sheet. He had two catches for five yards, giving him four catches for 31 yards in two games in his bid to win a roster spot.
Valles' first child was born Thursday, a daughter named Lucienne.
"It's the greatest feeling in the world," Valles said between handshakes and hugs.
"The greatest feeling in the world."