New England Patriots

By Ty Anderson,

After a 31-20 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 2, the New England Patriots took their act to Ford Field for a Sunday Night Football showdown with Matt Patricia and the Detroit Lions.

In Patricia’s bid to get his team on the board with their first win of the season (and break a five-game losing streak for ex-Belichick assistants going against the Patriots), Matthew Stafford certainly did his job, with a 17-of-22 passing for 139 yards and a score. The Patriots, meanwhile, sputtered and struggled to even get Tom Brady on the field, as New England finished the first half with just three points and a 8:34 of total time of possession.

It played out to a 13-3 edge for the Lions through the first two quarters.

Here are three thoughts from the opening two quarters of play from Ford Field…

Offense starts slow for second week in a row

The Patriots put themselves in a tough situation last week when they allowed Blake Bortles and the Jaguar offense to get going on their first two drives of the game. That pattern once again followed the Patriots as the scene and opponent shifted away from hot and sticky Jacksonville and to Detroit, but with the offense looking worse than they did last week.

Their second drive was perhaps their most frustrating, though, as Phillip Dorsett dropped a wide open pass before Tom Brady put the throw a little too high for Dorsett to haul it in on a third and long.

The back-to-back three-and-outs were made worse by Detroit jumping out to a 10-0 lead.

Oh, and then they followed that up with a third three-and-out, which the Lions countered with more points on the board.

By the time the Lions had a 13-0 lead, the Patriots had the ball for just four minutes and 19 seconds.

It’s no surprise that Josh Gordon was scratched

It would have been nice had the Patriots dressed Josh Gordon for his Patriots debut on Sunday night.

A week after dressing just three wideouts, and with No. 2 tight end Jacob Hollister ruled out of action late last week, it would have made sense to throw Gordon in there, if only as insurance for a Patriot offense that was incredibly stop and start last week. But after getting in just a pair of (limited) practices in with the Patriots, Gordon would have been working at less than 100 percent. And in more ways than one, too, if the hamstring injury he arrived with was anything even close to legitimate.

But when you’re talking about a player of this talent level and with this many ‘red flags,’ it goes without saying that the the Patriots need to put Gordon in the right situation to get off to the start needed to make a real impact with the team.

I’m not sure simply throwing him into the mix after a pair of practices would have been doing that.
Rob Gronkowski still exists, which is great news
It wasn’t until their fourth drive of the game that the Patriots got Rob Gronkowski involved, and that was a catch just short of a first down. And when the Patriots crossed into Detroit territory for the first time in the first half, it was on a big grab by No. 87. This, of course, is after a Week 2 that saw Gronkowski targeted just four times in a two-catch, 15-yard performance.

Given the reduced number of legitimate options on the Patriot offense this year, it’s seemingly become easier for teams to target Gronkowski with double and triple coverages, and seemingly make him a low-percentage target. Patricia, who is more than familiar with Gronkowski and how the Patriots utilize him, was obviously aware of this.

But once the Patriots got Gronkowski worked into the offense with some catches, you could see the rest of the field open up for Brady and the Patriots. That led to big gains by Rex Burkhead, and a catch to Chris Hogan.

A second-half gameplan? Maybe stop forcing Sony Michel and start looking more towards Gronkowski.

Ty Anderson is a digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Ty? Follow him on Twitter@_TyAnderson.