The Detroit Lions offense stumbled out of the gate like an inebriated man leaving a late-night establishment.
Matthew Stafford chucked four interceptions, including a pick-six. Several of Stafford's passes he had no business of even being attempted. The New York Jets bottled up a still dead-on-arrival run game and held the Lions' top two receivers in check most of the night in a 48-17 victory.
The horrific Lions loss underscored the middling overall talent coach Matthew Patricia took over in Detroit. Watching the offense, which was supposed to carry the season as the defense took shape, flail about like an out-of-control front yard hose is a foreboding sign.
One game can be overcome. If the Lions turn it around quickly and Stafford bounces back, Monday night will be remembered only as a blip on the radar.
Detroit, however, has a potentially deeper systemic issue at hand, especially for offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter and his quarterback.
Not only did Stafford make some dunderheaded decisions, apparently, the Lions tipped some of their plays.
Lee had two interceptions, including a pick-six.
"We knew his signals," Lee said. "We knew everything. That's just preparation as a defense. ... It seemed like we were in his head as a defense."
Re-watching the tilt on NFL Game Pass, one instance in which the Jets knew the call coming was on a third-and-15 play at the 10:15 mark of the second quarter. As Stafford reboots the action, a Jets defender could clearly be heard yelling "screen, screen!" The play indeed was a receiver screen to Golden Tate that was blown up. The Lions missed a long field-goal attempt on the next down.
"That's called studying. That's called studying," new corner Trumaine Johnson said. "You know, we had an extra day with Monday night. You know, this game was big on the road to get and I'm happy how this team responded."
If this all sounds familiar in Detroit that's because it is. Back in 2015, under then-coordinator Joe Lombardi, the Lions tipped plays with the alignments. Tate even went on local radio at the time and noted that players from other teams told him they knew what they were running.
Lombardi was fired a month later, leading to Cooter's elevation to the offensive coordinator job.
Time is a flat circle and we're all just mice scampering in a loop.
We're not suggesting after one game Patricia fire the offensive coordinator he held over from the previous regime. The issue, however, is the latest problem for Cooter. While nationally he's viewed as the man who raised Stafford's play, locally there's been mounting frustration about predictable play-calling, unimaginative route combinations, inability to scheme a run game, and some of the worst red-zone efficiency in the NFL.
Overreacting to one bad loss and wiping out the entire operation after one week would be counterproductive. However, Cooter must take a good look at his tendencies and make some changes or he'll end up like his predecessor, being replaced by the next hot-shot promotee.