Patriots vs. Lions: Thoughts and Observations

Kenbrell Thompkins showed off star potential last night.

NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

The third preseason game is notoriously hailed as the “realest” of all the preseason games. That wasn’t the case last night, as the Patriots were thoroughly beaten in their attempt to sort out their roster. With roster cut downs slated to begin on Tuesday this was the last opportunity for bubble players to change minds. What did we learn from the third preseason game and did anyone play their way onto the roster?

1. It was an ugly first quarter plus for the Patriots and I thought a lot of their struggles were a direct result of the Lions defensive line. Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley consistently pushed the OL into the backfield, dominating the run game and outworking the Patriots offensive line. The Lions ends were also very active with the pass rush, keeping Tom Brady off-balance and uncomfortable in the pocket.

2. Will Svitek was especially awful. I thought he struggled badly last week when asked to play guard and his first half tonight was disasterous. Svitek has never played OG and is only doing so because of injuries. His value to the team is his ability to play both tackle positions, I just don’t like what I see at guard.

3. The Patriots passing attack came out clicking once again until a Zach Sudfeld fumble derailed an encouraging drive inside the ten yard line. Mistakes are expected from the rookies, but a fumble in that area just can’t happen. When things like this happen in the preseason it can be a good thing, you know Bill Belichick and the entire coaching staff will be on his butt the entire week. The next time Sudfeld catches a pass you know his first thought will be ball security.

4. Kenbrell Thompkins has star potential. He had one big time drop on 3rd down, which is basically a turnover, but other than that he shined. Thompkins’ ability to get off the line and beat press coverage is by far his most impressive asset thus far. Twice he left the CB in the dust off the line, getting himself open for big gains. Like the other rookies there were some mistakes that can’t happen in the regular season, but overall there was a lot more good for Thompkins than bad.

5. Preseason games like this are tough to evaluate. The Patriots put an emphasis on getting looks at certain players, implementing new plays and putting players in situations that will test them. There is no doubt the game management is much different than we will see in the regular season. The turnovers and drops on offense are definitely discouraging, but when evaluating this game it’s important to look at it in bits and pieces like the coaching staff will be doing.

6. There is no doubt the Patriots rookie class and the receivers especially are an impressive group. But, for everyone expecting them to have a seamless transition to NFL stardom, they have to slow their roll. With so many rookies Patriot fans have to be patient and allow time to develop. I think it will be a case of the rookies getting better each week and hopefully by November-December the offense will be clicking on all cylinders. The Patriots and fans will just have to take the good with the bad because mistakes are going to happen.

7. I thought the defensive front seven was very good once again. Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich were dominate on a play by play basis. Each one consistently pushed the pocket and got a hand in Matthew Stafford’s face to force a quick throw. Rob Ninkovich was particularly instinctive sniffing out screens and draw plays.

8. Vince Wilfork got the night off, but it didn’t effect the play of fellow DT Tommy Kelly. Kelly was impressive once again, collapsing the pocket and getting push against the run. From all I have seen this preseason, there is no doubt he will have a big impact on this Patriots defense.

9. With Vince Wilfork down, UDFA Joe Vellano got the start and played the majority of snaps at defensive tackle. The fact that Vellano was the DT to start and not Cory Grissom or Marcus Forston, bodes well for his chances to make the roster. Vellano didn’t make a huge impact, but fought off double teams, held his ground and didn’t get pushed around. While we haven’t seen it utilized much yet, his best assett is his ability to slant and shoot gaps. He’s also got a great motor, which will help him make the team.

10. Once again I thought the starting cornerbacks played well when called upon. Aqib Talib made an impact in coverage and rookie Logan Ryan played a huge number of snaps again. At the beginning of camp it looked as though it might be a redshirt type year for Ryan, but he has shown he is ready to make an impact this year. Let’s not forget that starting CB Alfonzo Dennard has yet to suit up in games this preseason, which will only enhance this CB group.

11. The second half was a trainwreck. In fact I am not even going to attempt to break it down without watching it again. What I saw in a half-hearted attempt to analyze was a pathetic attempt at tackling, breakdowns in the secondary by Duron Harmon, Justin Green and others, as well as zero push from the line. For some of those guys it’s the last competitive football game they will ever play and what a way to go out.

12. Aaron Dobson needs to be more physical at the top of his routes and off the line. Once a defender gets hands on him, his feet stop and he has to reset. He’s not quick or shifty enough to create sepearation, so the only way he will be successful is if he wins with strength. We haven’t seen it to this point.

13. Ryan Mallet took a big step back tonight, although the offensive line and pieces around him did little to help.

14. I’ve seen all I need from Brandon Bolden. Yes, he can flash at times, but he makes too many mistakes for my liking and can’t stay healthy.  He got hurt yet again tonight.

15. I think the Patriots are still trying to figure out how to properly use Jamie Collins.

16. Dont’a Hightower has been very mediocre this preseason.

17. The Patriots came out of this 3rd preseason game pretty healthy and thats the biggest victory of all.

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11 Responses to “Patriots vs. Lions: Thoughts and Observations”

  1. Walter Back says:

    Steve are you some kind of shrink or something. You say I’m angry, I say I’m indignant with all the attacks on Tebow. I like to get angry sometimes tho feels good, you should try it. But I don’t know why you feel you must give me your unsolicited advice. So please keep your personal opinions to yourself. If I ever need a real shrink I can find one in the yellow pages or find out who treats Merrill Hoge.

  2. Walter Back says:

    Yes, I am a bit obsessed with Tebow making the team because he has not been given a truly fair shake even in Denver after that snake Elway arrived on the scene with his bloated ego and strutting arrogance. With the Jets, it was almost criminal the way Sparano and Ryan failed to give him a chance mainly because a notoriously incompetent, offensive deficient Sparano did not feel “comfortable” with Tebow. Sure there some people who are reasonable and just do not see Tebow as an nfl qb, I understand that, but surely you are aware of the plethora of haters who castigate Tebow beyond recognition. The so-called experts especially at ESPN have said horrible things about Tebow as have many others. Merrill Hoge even called him a phoney. I have seen Tebow interact with young kids at camp and I assure you he is NOT a phoney. So spare me my feelings of such pigs as Hoge et al and unlike them be assured that I bear no ill will to people who have reasonable negative feelings about Tebow.

    • steve earle says:

      I can understand how unjust you feel it all is but really getting so angry about it may not be a good thing after all it is still just football. Tim Tebow is, I agree, a great person, a strong self assured person who relys on God for his strength and as such there is nothing the NFL, ESPN, or any jerk can say or do that he will not survive and be the better man in the end. That you see and feel the injustice speaks well of you just don’t let it consume you so that you become a hater also.

  3. steve earle says:

    Wow Walter sounds kind of like your obsessed with Tebow making the team. Take a breath and calm down. He may or may not but whatever I don’t think Steve or the others are haters they just see a guy that isn’t up to the standards necessary to play the QB position and I have to agree. That doesn’t make Tebow a bad guy or us bad guys for stating the fact.

  4. Walter Back says:

    TT haters are gleeful he did not play against Lions. They are absolutely sure this is the end for Tebow. Not so fast,seems Ian Rapoport of nfl news reports it is common for Pats and other nfl teams only to play first two qbs in most important 3rd preseason game. Tebows benchwarming means nothing, so controll your hysteria to when Tebow is actually cut-if he is. Mallett didn’t look very good for a qb in the Pats system for going on 3 years. Tebow has a 50-50 chance of sticking. Then if he improves under Josh he could beat out Mallett. Isn’t it a pretty thought, don’t all you haters agree?

  5. Walter Back says:

    Haters, crazies et al give Mallett slack, and Sanchez and Orton and Vick and Freeman and Ponder and Gabbert and Foles and Romo etc etc etc, but no slack at all for Tebow. Swell.

  6. Walter Back says:

    BB and Josh didn’t play Tebow against Lions and all the crazies see this as the end of Tebow. Maybe coaches wanted to give Mallett his real chance to excell. It didn’t happen and never will. Maybe now with Malletts poor performnce coaches will want to keep Tebow as insurance against Malletts lousy play. Long term Tebow may be better value. Any haters at least consider Malletts continued poor play? I thought not.

  7. Walter Back says:

    With a !0% improvement in his passing rating Tebow would be a better nfl qb than Mallett. Already he is a much better all around footbal player and runner than that fraud Mallet. In fact arguably Tebow may be the hardest and best running Qb in nfl right now. After Lions fiasco and Malletts continued mediocrity and 3 years in the system I’d be very concerned about Mallett, which I suspect BB is too. Put Tebow as backup, somehow he’d win more games than Mallett if called on- just like he did with that other fraud, Kyle Orton.

  8. steve says:

    I’m not looking to talk about Tebow, because he simply can’t play. But, that being said, he’s serving a great purpose: he’s eating up all these snaps and hits during the preseason…complete garbage time…go at it. But, his roster spot is what I want to discuss….to me this is the main concern. With so many question marks at so many positions, and youth being a factor also, I feel that roster spot is just too important this year especially. They don’t have the luxury of keeping a useless 3rd QB on this roster. DB, TE, young receivers, DT depth (a pick up has to be coming soon), even RB, but now add in O-line if they can’t get Cannon back and healthy.

  9. steve says:

    Agree pretty much on all, but I still give Mallett slack because of these exhibition games being so insane with different players etc…But, I’m sick of the back up QB talk…who cares?

    It’s going to another season where we have to wait till Dec to see how the team comes together. Usually it’s the defense we’re waiting on, but this year it may the offense also.

    I hope they get Cannon back at guard, Gronk can go on the PUP for the first 6 weeks…who cares…get him healthy, and I don’t care about who is the back up running back.

    I went out on limb a while back (months) and said A Wilson will not make this team and I’m sticking to it, but our safeties are not very good at this point; the corners are ok, but nothing special there either. They better have a pass rush or it will be a long season.

    On Amendola: The biggest difference between he & Welker is this: Welker got drilled, and often, and just kept getting up and making plays; often not even coming off the field. To expect another slot receiver to have that tough a head is asking a lot…it’s not something you can teach or just ask someone to do. Amendola is going to get popped, can he get up and make the next play, can he finish the game??? He looks special, there’s no doubt, but Welker was nails out there…a freak in that regard. That means Edelman may have to stick just for depth

    • steve earle says:

      Agree with you about Welker he’s just a machine out there play after play. Why BB let him go is beyond me and don’t give a darn about his age, money he would cost or anything else. Notice Danny didn’t play last night, hurt again already. Cripes!!!!

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