After looking razor sharp in their first two preseason affairs, the New England Patriots looked like most teams typically do at some point during the exhibition season -- that is, a work in progress with issues to be resolved before the start of the 2011 NFL season. The Patriots dropped to 2-1 in the preseason with a 34-10 loss to the Lions at Ford Field in Detroit. The two teams' starters played more than a half of football before giving way to the reserves, but even then Detroit held the distinct advantage -- the score was 27-10 at intermission.
There's, of course, no reason to think that the Patriots won't look more like the team that steamrolled Jacksonville and Tampa Bay by a combined score of 78-26 than the one that showed up Sunday night, especially on the offensive side of the ball. But it's hard not to be at least a tad bit concerned by Matthew Stafford's 12-of14, 200 yards and 2 TDs performance. Win or lose, no matter how high the stakes or how inconsequential the outcome, Bill Belichik always remains stoic and analytical about the Patriots' performance, and Tuesday's interview with WEEI was no exception:
On what went wrong in the preseason loss against the Lions:
"I would say probably a combination of all of it. We didn’t get off to a very good start. Once we kinda saw that we were a little bit on the defensive mode we didn’t do much to turn it around. In some cases we just made it easier for them with turnovers, long yardage situations, with negative plays, sacks, and penalties. We kept it going defensively with more big plays and letting them out of some long yardage situations, and didn’t do much in the return game to help ourselves. We were just inconsistent in a lot of areas and never able to get it going and get it back to a competitive game."
What the coaching staff can do better in the preseason:
"Obviously when you go out and play like that I don’t know how you can like the way the team was prepared and the way they performed. I didn’t go out there and play, but my job is to prepare the team and based on the way we played there is not much I can take pride in there."
On the play of the offensive line:
"We’re going to have to block better than we did in that game. We’re going to have to do a lot of things better — throw, catch, block, run, stay out of long yardage. We had so many plays more than 10 yards. We had over 10 plays where we needed more than 10 yards in the first half and we kept on going backwards. That is not the way we want to play the game on offense. We have to do a better job all the way around, the more long yardage situations the more the quarterback is going to get hit. You can’t have 2nd-and 21, 3rd-and-31, 2nd-and-13, all day. Awful."