The Detroit Lions suffered a potential reality check of sorts last Monday night, as they were blown out by the New York Jets 48-17. The Lions threw five interceptions, four of those by starter Matthew Stafford. The defense looked shaky at best, however, expectations for the Lions weren’t altogether high before this game. Being in a division with Aaron Rodgers’ Green Bay Packers, a vastly improved Minnesota Vikings team, and a Chicago Bears team that acquired pass rusher Khalil Mack can tamper expectations for a squad that didn’t make much noise. Regardless, few expected the Lions to lose, let alone be blown out by a rookie QB-lead Jets roster.
Is this a sign of things to come for the Detroit Lions, or are we overreacting to one poor performance?
The game started on a positive note, as Jets QB Sam Darnold threw an interception to Quandre Diggs on his first career pass. Diggs scored on the play, and the Lions took the early lead. They lost the lead later in the quarter on a six-yard run by Isaiah Crowell. The Jets then took control in the second quarter on a field goal, and proceeded to outscore the Lions 38-10 the rest of the way. The Jets also roughed up Stafford, and he was briefly sidelined with an injury in the third quarter. Backup Matt Cassel didn’t play any better, throwing an interception in his short stint.
After the game, Jets linebacker Darron Lee said his defense knew exactly what plays Detroit would be running. “We were calling out their plays as he was getting up to the line,” he told ESPN. “We knew his signals. We knew everything. That’s just preparation as a defense. … It seemed like we were in his head as a defense.”
Since then, both Jets head coach Todd Bowels and Lions head coach Matt Patricia have downplayed these comments. “Those guys did a good job following out their assignments that the coaches taught them,” Bowles said. “They were anticipating certain things if they saw certain formations and they were in good positions to make those type of plays. I don’t think we knew the plays.”
“I would say in general there are a lot of things that go on in the game that are identifiable to players on both sides of the ball,” Patricia said. “In the course of a game, that kind of happens at times that those things come up. There’s certainly very simplistic things that are used in the course of a game where guys do a good job of hearing things or studying things and seeing things, seeing stuff.”
Let’s say that this is true, and the Jets knew the Lions offense. How do you explain the Lions performance on defense? They allowed a variety of big plays, including a 62-yard TD run to Crowell and a 41-yard pass to Robby Anderson. How about special teams? Matt Prater missed two field goals, and the punt team allowed a TD return to former Lion Andre Roberts. While it wouldn’t have changed the outcome, it would’ve helped if the special teams fared better than they did on Monday.
All in all, the Lions can bounce back from this. However, from this small sample size, the future looks incredibly bleak at Ford Field.
Photo Credit: USATSI