Jeff Risdon, DLD Editor
I watched the game just once so far, in real time from the comfort of my living room. During the game I posted a live blog over at Bleacher Report, which you can find here.
Here are 10 fairly random thoughts before I call it a night:
1. My eyes are really open to LaAdrian Waddle as the starting right tackle. He was very good last week, and once again he was very good versus New England. If the Patriots can start an undrafted wide receiver in Kenbrell Tompkins, who by the way was fantastic, there is no reason Waddle’s lowly draft stock should inhibit him from getting the job. At minimum he has pushed Corey Hilliard off the roster, likely next week on cutdown day to give the veteran a chance to catch on somewhere else.
2. There was a tangible energy to the starting defense and I credit that to Louis Delmas. He lives for big games, and for him this was absolutely a big game. Delmas is a tone setter and the spiritual heart and soul of the defensive back seven. Not only that, but the defensive line plays with more confidence knowing that Delmas can help clean things up behind them; Suh & Co. don’t feel like they have to kill the QB on every play, and it makes them function better too.
3. The special teams were by and large outstanding. Sam Martin’s punt that bounced near the middle of the field at the 5 or so and sharply bounced out of bounds at the one? That’s Phil Mickelson holing out from the sand from 90 yards away, an absolute work of art. Martin averaged 56 yards per kick and pinned two of his four inside the 15. Micheal Spurlock showed niftiness on a nice punt return while Steven Miller saved at least 10 yards and precious seconds by cleanly fielding a hopping line drive just before half time. The coverage units were hard-hitting and disciplined.
4. As Rob Rubick frequently pointed out during the dog days of the 4th quarter, Jonte Green sure looks like a safety and not a corner. Two holding penalties–both good calls–showed a guy that doesn’t trust his own great speed and just doesn’t have much feel for man coverage. But he closes so quickly and hits hard, and he’s got the frame to add 10 pounds. I’m not sure he has practice squad eligibility but it’s worth redshirting Green one way or another and reintroducing him in 2014 as the 3rd safety.
5. Justin Bannan showed why the Lions were so happy to sign him. He consistently took on two blockers in gaps and held his ground. Bannan’s positional savvy really showed. Granted the Patriots have serious depth issues along their offensive line, but it’s clear Bannan will push CJ Mosley for the old Sammie Lee Hill role as the run-stuffing interior sub.
6. Sometimes it only takes a crack. Michael Williams went out with a hand injury and Joseph Fauria turned in a stellar game in his absence. He caught all three balls thrown his way, including the TD from Moore. He also picked up a blitz nicely and I made a couple of largely illegible notes about his blocking in front of Bell and Riddick. Without knowing anything at all about Williams’ hand, it wouldn’t surprise me if Fauria becomes the third tight end while Williams winds up needing IR for his wound.
7. I didn’t focus on the line in depth yet, but once again my initial impression is that Jake Scott bested Larry Warford in the battle for right guard. Again, it was not my focus but I didn’t see Warford creating much in the run game against New England’s starters.
8. If you follow me on Twitter you’re well aware of my preternatural enmity towards Ryan Mallett. I openly root against precious few athletes, but he’s one of them. I have my reasons. This wretched game was sweet validation for the draftnik in me who rated Mallett the 11th best QB in the 2011 draft and took a lot of grief for it. If you still hear anyone trying to sell the notion that the Patriots can flip Ryan Mallett for even a 5th round pick, you have my permission to laugh obnoxiously in their face. Not that I’m bitter…
9. He’s not going to make the Lions, but some team is going to be real happy when they get Jimmy Saddler-McQueen onto their roster. He’s got Sammie Lee Hill potential, just needs reps. I’d love to see him land in Oakland or Dallas, two very DT-needy squads.
10. The fans were into this one, and it highlights just how crazy Detroit will be when the Lions finally have some playoff success. When the raucous crowd forced New England to take a timeout in the red zone in the third quarter, that truly warms my heart. However, try and remember the awful feeling after last week’s horrendous effort and balance the two extremes. I have a feeling we’re going to see both types of games out of the Lions this season. Try and keep the teeter totter from hurting your butt too hard when thumping the ground or flinging you too high when the team is soaring.