Detroit Lions: One veteran not afraid to speak out on defensive woes

Ricky Jean Francois says what is on his mind

Apparently Ricky Jean Francois didn’t get the message that Lions players are to be seen and not heard.

While there is no hard evidence, that the new coaching staff has silenced the players, it certainly appears that way.

They all talk the same now. We’ve heard the tired old phrase — “We’re just trying to improve every day” every day. “Last year is last year.” We get it.

It was stunning when Darius Slay talked to the media on Tuesday: “Blah, blah, blah.” Nothing. Big Play Slay has personality galore and used to enjoy talking to the media, not just about his game, but also about his guy, Kobe Bryant. He’s a character and there’s nothing wrong with that. Coaches and his teammates have always said Slay is all business out on the field. This week he wouldn’t even bite on going against Odell Beckham Jr., in the joint practices.

So on Friday night, when veteran defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois spoke from the heart after the preseason loss to the Giants, it was stunning in its own way.

Francois, who played in New England for Matt Patricia for half of last season. He’s 31 and nearing the end of his career so perhaps he has nothing to lose.

Certainly the defensive line, which is mostly comprised of younger guys, needs a teammate who will tell it straight.

Here’s a bit of what he said in the locker room after the game: “It’s disheartening to see us not perfect our technique. It’s disheartening to see us not execute what we executed the whole week. It’s hard not to see certain things that you sit in a building from morning to night going over, then when we get on the field, we don’t see it done. But like I said, we got two more weeks, and we have tomorrow, the first day to start—to start correcting these situations and start correcting to stop that run. Because if you don’t stop the run, you have a lot of great NFL teams in the League that have good running backs and O-lines that can just move that ball whenever they choose to.”

Francois played 17 snaps or 29 percent of the defensive plays in the 30-17 loss to the Giants. In the preseason opener at Oakland he didn’t play.

While he was tough on his teammates, he was careful to say he needs to improve his game too.

On a media conference call on Saturday, Patricia said he trusts Francois because he knows him. He also hinted that Francois is not a lock to make the 53-man roster.

“He has a great value from that (leadership) aspect,’’ Patricia said. “He understands different teams, different programs and organizations and understands what it takes, but in particularly with me in the scheme and what we’re looking for. He has a lot of good insight to give to some of the players, some of the things that he had to do or has gone through, from the aspect how to play some of the situations, he can hand the knowledge down to those guys which is great.

“(He’s) certainly a guy though that has a lot of work to do. He’s working hard to get caught up, we got him here right as training camp got going. Working very hard, he’s a guy I trust and rely on a lot,’’ Patricia said.

Will he make the cut? Stay tuned.

 

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Author: Paula Pasche

Paula Pasche, a veteran sports writer, covers the Detroit Lions for her Lions Lowdown blog. She has written two books, "Game of My Life Detroit Lions" and "100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" which are available at bookstores and on Amazon.com. She won first place for column writing from the Society of Professional Journalists in Detroit (Class B) in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and was The Oakland Press 2010 Staffer of the Year.

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