In what is probably his final preseason appearance in 2013, Tom Brady looked disjointed and confused in an awful offensive performance, as the New England Patriots failed to get anything done with their first-team offense and had to wait until the final minute of the game in order to score their only touchdown.
Before jumping to conclusions begins, it’s good to remember that the last time the Patriots lost this badly in the preseason was in 2011, 34-10 to the same Detroit Lions. That year ended with a 13-3 record and the Patriots reaching the Super Bowl, so there’s no need for widespread panic on the lack of execution the Patriots displayed in their 40-9 loss, losing for the first time in his preseason.
Brady finished with 16-of-24 for 185 yards, throwing an interception picked up by Chris Houston as he was trying to find Aaron Dobson on a slant call. While Brady made his bunch of ‘no-name’ receivers work, there wasn’t any fluidity we usually see from the Patriots, maybe because Danny Amendola didn’t even play, and Julian Edelman was the one who filled in at slot receiver. Amendola is currently injured, but it shouldn’t be something that last very long, and the Patriots need every bit of time their new signing can give them.
Why was this Brady’s last appearance in the preseason? His workload, as expected, rose through the last couple of weeks, taking 16 snaps against the Eagles, 25 against the Buccaneers and 46 against the Detroit Lions. After going nearly perfect in the first couple of games, it seems like his core of young wide receivers is going to be quite inconsistent, at least early on in the season.
The defense seemed to work well, which isn’t a new thing in this preseason. The Lions were 2-of-9 on third down in the first half when the top defense was on the field. Three of those stops came for the Patriots inside their own 20. The Patriots didn’t have Vince Wilfork while linebacker Jerod Mayo played only in dime-defense situations. They did manage to cause three fumbles, but all of them were picked up by the Lions. The Patriots did struggle with getting to the quarterback, recording only one sack against Matthew Stafford.
Stopping game hasn’t been a problem for the Patriots in the past, but they did allow 124 yards on 29 carries for the Lions, while their own running game suffered from Brady not being able to stretch out the defense, limited to only 68 yards on 29 carries.
Injuries seem to be something that’s impossible to avoid, and rookie Cory Grissom, a defensive tackle, leaves the Patriots very thin at that position for now after leaving the game in the fourth quarter.
The Patriots, eventually, will go as far as Brady takes them. The question is if Brady can make a less than stellar wide receiver list of players work at the usual high level this offense is used to operate in. While this loss was a bit out of the ordinary, we might have to get used to seeing a bit more struggles from this offense than in the past until everybody understands their new place.