The Detroit Lions led the New York Jets 7-0 early in the first quarter of the season opener. That lead was courtesy of Quandre Diggs picking off rookie quarterback Sam Darnold’s first NFL pass and taking it to the house. Ford Field was rocking after that play. Unfortunately, Detroit fans had little to be happy about after that.
Darnold shook off the nerves and went on to lead the Jets to a 48-17 rout of the Lions. He did so by completing 76% of his passes (16-21) for 198 yards and two touchdowns while thoroughly out playing his QB counterpart, Matthew Stafford, a veteran entering his tenth year in the league.
It was almost as if the roles were reversed Monday night. Darnold, while making a rookie mistake on his first throw, looked cool, calm and collected the rest of the night like a seasoned vet. Stafford on the other hand, a former Pro Bowler with plenty of experience, looked completely lost.
The Jets even picked off backup Matt Cassel once for a total of five INT’s on the night. The Jets secondary, who dubbed themselves “New Jack City”, came to play Monday night.
Stafford went 27-46 (59%) while throwing one touchdown and four interceptions. The TD pass, a 24-yard strike to Golden Tate early in the third quarter, tied the game at 17-17. The Jets went on to score 31 unanswered points to reach the highest point total that the franchise has ever scored on the road.
The game got so out of hand that the contingent of New York fans who made the trip to the Motor City got a chant of J-E-T-S, JETS! JETS! JETS!” going.
Stafford, who played poorly, didn’t get much help from the backfield either. Third-down and pass-catching back, Theo Riddick, led the team in rushing yards with 20 on four carries. Kerryon Johnson, the rookie out of Auburn, had 17 yards on five attempts while offseason acquisition, LeGarrette Blount, had an abysmal negative three rushing yards on four rushes while also leaving the game due to an injury.
The Lions as a whole averaged a measly 2.6 yards per rush after bringing in guys like Johnson and Blount to beef up a rushing attack that has been one of the worst in the league over the last few seasons.
The Jets backfield on the other hand, made up of Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell, just gashed new head coach Matt Patricia’s 3-4 defense. New York ran for 169 yards as a team with Crowell leading the way with 102 yards and a touchdown on ten totes. Powell averaged five yards a carry as he gained 60 yards on 12 rushes.
The one, of very few, bright spots for this Lions offense after an atrocious game like that was second-year wide receiver Kenny Golladay. The Northern Illinois product had seven receptions for 114 yards and looked like one of the few players giving maximum effort. He even forced and recovered a fumble after one of Stafford’s interceptions.
This was not the start to the season that Patricia had in mind when he became the coach back in February. This game may have been a new low for a franchise that has seen its fair share of low points over the years.
While it’s only the first week of the season, Patricia looks like he could be in over his head on the sideline as the man in charge. Reports surfaced after the game of veterans being unhappy with his coaching style and methods. That may have been evident in-game as this team looked deflated after allowing 21 points in a span of 2:36 in the third quarter to trail 38-17 after tying it up at 17 apiece.
I don’t want to say that this team has already given up on the season or their new coach, but there are certainly signs that point to that. But, it is also only week one and I don’t want to overreact too much just yet. That judgement will have to come as the season progresses.
As for next week, New York heads home to host the Miami Dolphins. It will be a battle of 1-0 squads after the Fins took out the Tennessee Titans 27-20.
The Lions, meanwhile, head to the Bay to take on Jimmy G and Co. in a matchup of 0-1 clubs after the 49ers lost to the Minnesota Vikings 24-16.
All stats courtesy of ESPN.com.