DETROIT -- Tom Brady was on edge in his postgame press conference. He spoke definitively, leaving very little room for interpretation.
In New England's 26-10 loss to the Lions, Brady didn't get enough from his receivers. And he didn't get enough of his favorite running back.
There was the pick deep down the middle of the field on a pass intended for Phillip Dorsett that was thrown almost out of frustration, it seemed.
TOM E. CURRAN's HARD TRUTHS
- Patriots' air attack grounded in Detroit
- Patriots offer no defense for previously punchless Lions
- 'Gotta play better, gotta coach better' never rang truer
"We had a post off the play-action and I was just trying to throw it up early and [Darius] Slay got his eyes on the ball faster than Phillip and Phillip couldn't adjust and . . . kind of an easy interception."
There was the intentional grounding penalty when someone -- likely Cordarrelle Patterson -- ran an incorrect route, resulting in a lost
down and a loss of yardage.
“Those things shouldn’t happen," he said. "This is pro football.”
And on James White? Who caught the team's only touchdown and ran hard at the end of a game that was already decided? Brady would like to see more of him -- even if that means it comes at the expense of someone else.
"He’s got to be involved," Brady said. "The guys who can make plays, those are the ones who should be involved. James is certainly one of them."
- MORE CURRAN - How to cope with Patriots Demise Syndrome
But for as little as Brady received from his teammates on Sunday night, he could've been better as well. After a performance like that one, there were bad grades across the board. Let's get to them...
Hard to truly nit-pick some of Brady's decisions given the lack of separation his receivers were able to create in the secondary. (Not to mention the sudden inability to catch exhibited by some of his targets.) But there were occasions when Brady had room to make plays and didn't. His first third-down throw of the game was behind Chris Hogan and nearly picked when it looked like he had White open for a short first-down completion. Brady's next third-down throw to Phillip Dorsett was high and should've been caught, but Dorsett was open and Brady's throw hung in the air. Brady had control over the speed of the snap when Sony Michel was blasted for a loss deep in Lions territory late in the second quarter. He couldn't have counted on Dwayne Allen getting blown off the ball, but it seemed as though the Lions had one more player than the Patriots could block on that play, dooming it from the start. Brady was picked on a bad decision deep down the field, and he was sacked despite having loads of time in the backfield in the fourth. We won't dock him for the intentional grounding call here -- that will go on the wideouts -- and he threw strikes to James White and Rob Gronkowski, but it was still a subpar day from the team's best payer.
RUNNING BACK: C-
and dragged down. As a first-round pick, the Patriots would probably like to see a little more make-you-miss ability, whether it's with power or quickness. Michel also dropped a pass. Rex Burkhead suffered a neck injury after seven snaps and didn't return.
Can Julian Edelman solve this group's issues? Maybe. He should be able to uncover in short spaces if he's healthy and at his best. The Patriots couldn't seem to shake free from what had been a permissive Lions passing defense through two weeks of the regular season. Dorsett helped give one away by not finding or competing for a Brady pass that shouldn't have been thrown in the first place. He dropped an out. He
dropped an over after mistiming his jump and still getting both hands on the ball. Hogan, like White, competed late. But he had issues separating, saw four targets and caught three for 31 yards. Patterson looked like the culprit on the intentional grounding. He's simply not dependable as a regular receiver, and it sounds as though Brady knows it.
TIGHT END: C
Rob Gronkowski did all he could. He was asked if he needed help after the game -- as in could he use offensive teammates who pose threats in the passing game -- and said all the right things. But anyone watching understood that the Patriots were behind the eight ball Sunday night, as they were last weekend, because the Lions felt confident in their ability to stop the rest of Brady's weapons if Gronkowski was doubled (or tripled) in the secondary. With the Patriots down and throwing, this was a light day for both James Develin (eight snaps) and Dwayne Allen (17). Allen, though, still found a way to show up when he was blown up by former Patriot Tavon Wilson to help snuff out a Michel third-and-one attempt in the second quarter.
OFFENSIVE LINE: D
When you take away White's three runs for 32 yards at the end of the game, with the Lions guarding against the pass, you get some ugly rushing numbers for this Patriots offensive line: 57 yards on 16 carries. That's 3.6 yards per attempt, one-tenth of a yard less than what the Patriots came into Sunday with over their first two games. Shaq Mason got wrecked by former teammate Ricky Jean Francois on a first-half third-and-one where it looked like he didn't hear the snap count. That is a break from the norm, as Mason is the team's best run-blocker. He also allowed a quarterback hit. Trent Brown picked up a holding call and allowed a sack late. David Andrews seemed to hold his own up front, but there was little else here worth writing home about.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B
This group didn't really impact the game. Cyrus Jones caught his lone punt-return opportunity, which is a plus given how things went through
two weeks at punt returner. Ryan Allen had one bad boot that traveled only 36 yards from his own 24. Could've used more leg there. Cordarrelle Patterson shined here. He returned four kicks for 113 yards, including a long of 45 yards. He's close to breaking one and is a legitimate threat back there.
DEFENSIVE LINE: C-
If not for Deatrich Wise and Lawrence Guy, this would've been a "D" for the second consecutive week. The Patriots allowed the Lions to run
for an average of 4.8 yards per carry and the big bodies up front had a lot to do with that. Keionta Davis couldn't hold his ground at the point of attack, and Malcom Brown was far too easily moved by Frank Ragnow (one of the worst guards in football through two weeks) in the running game. Adrian Clayborn had no impact as a pass-rusher, and the one time he obviously beat his block at the snap, he missed a tackle on Kerryon Johnson that would've gone for a loss. Guy was solid against the run yet again despite seeing occasional doubles. And Wise was the team's best defender, picking up a pair of run stuffs and a sack. He was one of the few on this side of the ball who played with some apparent energy. The lack of pass rush outside of Wise (and with no Flowers on the field) has to be alarming. In 61 combined snaps, Davis, Clayborn and Derek Rivers combined for zero pressures, hurries or hits.
Another rough day for Patriots second-level defenders. Ja'Whaun Bentley made the interception that helped lead to his team's only touchdown, boosting this grade to where it ended up. Kyle Van Noy (three pressures) and Dont'a Hightower (one) flashed as rushers briefly, but this position group was frequently blocked in the running game and chasing in the passing game. On LeGarrette Blount's six-yard
run early in the first quarter, both Hightower and Van Noy were sealed off. On a second-quarter Johnson run, Hightower couldn't chase him down, and Bentley missed a tackle. Elandon Roberts (helped by Hightower's pressure) made a nice play on Luke Willson to drop the tight end for a loss of five. He had two tackles for loss on the day and seven overall. This unit didn't get much help from its front, clearing the way to make one-on-one tackles, but the athleticism at this level appears to be lacking. The loss of Patrick Chung -- a safety who plays at the linebacker level and provides some speed there on passing downs -- hurt.
Let's start with the bad. Duron Harmon should have been deep on the long Matthew Stafford touchdown pass to Marvin Jones. He also missed a tackle at the end of the first quarter that led to a long run by Johnson. JC Jackson played just 12 snaps in his debut and picked up a holding call on a flea-flicker in the second. Better that than giving up a long touchdown...but still not ideal. And each of the Joneses missed tackles -- Jonathan and Cyrus had one each. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play? I thought Jason McCourty was solid, allowing four catches on six targets for only 21 yards. Stephon Gilmore, who tried to cover for Harmon's mistake on the touchdown, played well, allowing only one catch that went for a short touchdown to Kenny Golladay. He also made four tackles in a game where players were running free through the front seven and into the secondary. This wasn't a good day from the defensive backs, but they know what they have in Gilmore.