Jets, Sam Darnold absolutely embarrass Lions in Matt Patricia's head-coaching debut

Of all the possible outcomes for the first “Monday Night Football” game of Week 1, it’s doubtful many people figured on the New York Jets being up 31 points by the end of the third quarter.

But, considering the Detroit Lions were involved, it wasn’t all that surprising.

If there was any optimism surrounding the Lions this season, that has been put on hold indefinitely. The Jets, starting the youngest rookie quarterback in Week 1 in league history, blasted the Lions 48-17 in Detroit. It looks like the long-suffering Lions might be in for a rough season, if the opener is an indication of things to come.

The crazy thing is the Lions started with a 7-0 lead after a pick-six on Sam Darnold’s first career pass. Everything after that was all Jets. With seven minutes left in the game, Jets fans got together behind the team’s bench at Ford Field and did the “J-E-T-S” chant. It seemed most Lions fans had left by that point.

ESPN moved the final minutes of the blowout to ESPN2 to get the start of the Rams-Raiders game on the main network. It was that bad in Detroit.

Matt Patricia has a horrendous first game as coach

Somewhere Jim Caldwell is smirking.

The Lions fired Caldwell after back-to-back 9-7 seasons. It wasn’t entirely unreasonable at the time. But after one game, the Lions might wonder if they made the right move.

Let’s not dance around it: Matt Patricia’s debut as an NFL head coach was horrific. Patricia’s team was unprepared and embarrassed at home.

Every phase was terrible for the Lions. Matthew Stafford played what might have been the worst game of his NFL career. He threw four interceptions. The Lions defense struggled to stop Darnold. Special teams allowed a punt return for a touchdown and that effectively ended the game in the third quarter.

It’s just one game, but Patricia looked like pretty much every other Bill Belichick assistant who gets a head-coaching job, although he’s the only one with a backward hat and a pencil hanging off his ear.

Sam Darnold calms down after tough start

The Jets defense deserves credit for the way it played, but so many of Stafford’s mistakes were on him. He didn’t read coverages well. He, not Darnold, looked like the rookie. Jets linebacker Darron Lee had a pick-six on a play in which Stafford never seemed to see Lee in a zone coverage. Lee picked him off again later on a forced throw. It was an awful performance.

On the flip side, Darnold had a good game. Darnold, whose flat personality will probably serve him well in New York, bounced back very well from his first pass. He looked like he did in the preseason, not taking many chances but running the offense well. He finished 16-of-21 for 198 yards and two touchdowns.

When the Lions realized they were getting run on national TV, the big plays started coming. The Jets had the punt return touchdown. Lee had his interception return. Nobody on the Lions showed much interest in tackling on a long touchdown run by Isaiah Crowell.

It was entirely one-sided.

Both teams can’t overreact

Many years, there’s at least one surprising Week 1 outcome that looks weird by the end of the season. Just because the Jets looked as good as they did, or the Lions looked as bad as they did, doesn’t mean that’s what will happen over their next 15 games.

But if you’re a fan of either the Jets or Lions, it will be hard to not overreact. The Jets looked very sharp, with a talented rookie quarterback and an aggressive defense that seems to be what third-year coach Todd Bowles wants. The Lions are looking for a hole to hide in.

It’ll be hard to tell either team it’s just one game.

New York Jets defensive end Henry Anderson (96) hits Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford’s (9) in the Jets’ Week 1 blowout win. (AP)
New York Jets defensive end Henry Anderson (96) hits Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford’s (9) in the Jets’ Week 1 blowout win. (AP)

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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