It’s the teacher vs. the student on Sunday night in the Motor City. And the New England Patriots are bringing a new toy to this prime time encounter.
It was a rough Week 2 for both the New England Patriots and the Detroit Lions. But for the latter, it’s been a tough start for a new head coach that inherited a pretty talented team.
On Sunday night at the Motor City, Bill Belichick brings his defending conference champions to Ford Field and will square off with his most recent defensive coordinator. Matt Patricia took over as the sideline leader for the Lions earlier this year, replacing Jim Caldwell. And while it’s extremely early, things have not gone well for the man who spent more than a decade in Foxborough learning from one of the all-time great teachers of the game.
In the first Monday night game of 2018, the home-standing Lions were routed 48-17 and dominated in all three phases of the game by the New York Jets. Todd Bowles’ team scored on offense, defense and special teams – all after Detroit had taken an early 7-0 lead. Last Sunday at San Francisco, the 49ers owned a 30-13 fourth-quarter lead before quarterback Matthew Stafford came up with a couple of late touchdown passes. All told, the Lions have already allowed 78 points in their first two contests. And the team is off to a 0-2 start for the first time since 2015.
And here comes the Patriots, perhaps not in the best of moods after a rough afternoon at Jacksonville against the revenger-minded Jaguars. New England allowed a whopping 481 total yards on 69 plays in the 31-20 setback. Blake Bortles connected on 29-of-45 throws for 377 yards and four scores (1 interception). The Pats did not sack the fifth-year signal-caller and also allowed 104 yards rushing on 24 carries. And the Jaguars also turned over the football twice. Twice in the contest, Belichick’s club faced 21 and 18-point deficits.
So you have to think that Patricia and the Lions are about to get New England’s best shot. Perhaps the biggest question on Sunday night is whether or not wide receiver Josh Gordon is on the field and available for the defending AFC East champions. The very-talented performer is on the move after a tumultuous stint with the Cleveland Browns. He was a supplemental draft choice in 2012 (second round), but he’s been available for only 41 games since then. His career totals include 180 receptions for 3,106 yards and 16 touchdowns, one of those scores coming in Week 1 vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The last three times that Patricia has taken the field in a meaningful game, including the Super Bowl LII loss to the Philadelphia Eagles while he was the Patriots’ defensive coordinator, he’s seen the team he works for allow 41, 48 and 30 points, respectively. That’s a whopping 119 points in 12 quarters, just under 40 points per outing. Those are pretty disturbing numbers. And there’s a chance that things could be even worse on Sunday night if the teacher feels like teaching the student a lesson.