What The Hell Happened Against Bailey Zappe and The New England Patriots

The 1st Quarter
The game could not have started any worse for the Lions in their week five matchup against the New England Patriots. On the first five drives, the Lions punted twice, turned the ball over on downs, threw an interception, and fumbled the ball leading to six points scored by the New England defense.

For quarterback Jared Goff, the combination of predictability and pressure lead to the lack of success. On Goff’s interception, he was too predictable. While the pocket was clean in comparison to the rest of the game, Goff stuck on his progression with tight end T.J. Hockenson for too long, leading to an easy pick for New England’s young, stud cornerback Jack Jones. However, a couple of injuries and absences on the offensive line did not help Goff one bit, especially against this dynamic, quick Patriots pass rush. New England edge rusher Matthew Judon was all over Goff the entire afternoon, repeatedly winning his matchup against second year right tackle Penei Sewell, forcing a fumble in the latter part of the first quarter. Swarmed by the defense and Judon, safety Kyle Dugger recovered and returned the fumble for the 59-yard touchdown score. While Goff was lackluster, the offensive line deserves a lot of blame for their less than stellar performance and inability to give Goff enough time to positively produce in the pocket.

Run Defense
Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson ran all over Detroit’s defense on Sunday. Stevenson racked up 161 rushing yards on 25 carries; however, where Stevenson and the Pats saw most of their offensive success was on the right side of the offensive line. Running behind right tackle Isaiah Wynn and right guard Mike Onwenu, Stevenson produced 114 on ten attempts. A ton of the ground success should be credited towards the complete offensive line, which dismantled the Lions frontline defense. Aidan Hutchinson, Alim McNeil and many others for Detroit were unable to complete their tackles and make enough contact with the opposing Patriots due to the excellent run blocking on the New England side of the ball.

Bailey Zappe’s Clinic
Rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe out of Western Kentucky put on a clinic against the depressing Detroit defense. Firstly, the Lions defense was not able to force the issue on Zappe, due to the sound pass blocking from the offensive line, but also the lack of crisp pass rushers for the developing Lions. Secondly, Zappe and the Patriots kept it simple on offense. Zappe only attempted 21 total pass attempts throughout the entire afternoon, completing 17 of his passes for 188 yards. Most of his success came from behind the line of scrimmage and in the short pass game (zero to ten yard passes). According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Zappe was 15 for 16 on passes less than ten air yards. A lot of those completions came from the behind of the field and on a multitude of crossing routes from wideout Jakobi Meyers, who had a solid game going for 111 receiving yards on seven catches, also adding a touchdown to the box score.

Moving Forward
The Lions were brutal on Sunday. While the fact that D’Andre Swift is not playing due to injury hurts the team, Goff and the Lions should still be scoring over zero points! Also, Amon-Ra St. Brown needs to be a focal point of this offense, and he was practically non-existent in the 29 to zero defeat on Sunday. In order for more victories, Swift will need to return better than ever from his injury and St. Brown will need to be fed the ball, no matter if they come on the ground off sweeps, or just simple bubble screens out wide. With those increased touches to the offensive playmakers, Detroit may be able to score enough points to actually win games!
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