Ugliness started on Patriots sidelines

Ugliness started on Patriots sidelines
August 28, 2011, 2:44 pm
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By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
DETROIT - There was no hemming and hawing from Bill Belichick Saturday night in Detroit. No"the other guys are getting paid too" nod to well-laid Patriot plans blown up by the Lions. The Patriots head coach put the focus squarely where it needed to be after his team's 34-10 beatdown in Detroit. He started with himself. "Well, there was no question about who the better team was tonight," he said dourly. "I think that obviously I did a poor job of having the team ready to play. We didnt really do anything very well, in any phase of the game, certainly not good enough to win. Lions are a good team, they played well. Jim did a great job with his team and they were a lot more efficient, a lot more ready to play, and played a lot better than our team did. I dont feel very good about the job that I did, dont feel very good about really anything we did tonight. We really werent competitive and weve obviously got a lot of work to do."Belichick discarded a request for specifics. In this instance, it wasn't a case of the Patriots being "outcoached" by Jim Schwartz and his staff. This was about New England's effort, decision-making, precision andpost-snap communication on both sides of the ball. They were not prepared to play in this game. You could see it before the game was 10 minutes old. Detroit had plays of 12, 8, 37, 6, 52 and 9 yards on its first 11 offensive snaps. On the Patriots' third play from scrimmage, Chad Ochocinco's hold wiped out a 15-yard completion to Rob Gronkowski. On the sixth play, Tom Brady was strip-sacked. The second Patriots offensive drive was their best of the night. They converted four straight first downs but then were stopped on the fifth, a third-and-1 carry for BenJarvus Green-Ellis with 31 seconds left in the first quarter. They settled for a field goal. They converted one third down after that and finished 5-for-16 on third down for the night. Lions coach Jim Schwartz probably gave the most telling evaluation of how it went badly for New England. "We say a lot of times in the preseason: you want to see players win, you don't want to see scheme win," Schwartz explained. "I think we saw some good match-ups today and not just our first group against their first group. A lot of times our twos matched up against their ones on defense and sometimes our threes matched up and we won some of those battles. Same thing defensively."Regardless of how improved the Lions are, the Patriots' starters should not be beaten individually by any third-stringers when the rosters are at 90 players. Period. "We just didn't come to play," said safety Brandon Meriweather. "Coach was telling us all week how good this team was and how we had to come out and start fast and we just didn't come out the way we wanted to. I don't know what happened. The more we tried to get over that hump, the more we fell behind."As Tom Brady pointed out, there's no need for a confidence crisis. And the fact Belichick's team didn't answer the bell for this game is not a sign of Patriots apocalypse. It's happened before and will happen again. "We need to go back to the drawing board and learn from the mistakes that were made," said veteran defensive tackle Gerard Warren. "I've seenperformances like this quitea few times in preseason. Just got to learn from the mistakes in the game and try to get better. Losing's always bad. Preseason or regular season. That's not what we want to put on film, not what we practiced all week." Said Belichick, "I don't think theres any other solution than to go back and work harder and try to correct a lot of mistakes. We need to do everything better. I dont think theres any one area that should be highlighted any more than anything else. I thought we had problems in every phase of the game. We obviously werent coached very well, and we didnt play very well.Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran