Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia explains his outdoor snowy practice when next 4 games are indoors

Also makes snarky remark about media

ALLEN PARK — Lions coach Matt Patricia defended his decision to hold practice outdoors on Thursday despite the snow and cold and the fact that the Lions next four games are indoors.

At his Friday press conference, he started with a statement praising veterans before Sunday’s Salute to Service day.

Then the coach, who seemed agitated, read a prepared script on the outdoor practice seeking to get “closure to this continuing conversation as far as our training.”

Patricia doesn’t talk to the media on Thursdays so he didn’t address the uncommon notion of practicing outdoors in the snow when the four upcoming games are indoors.

He ended his Friday remarks with a snarky comment about the media.

“We’re going to be practicing inside today just so everybody’s clear, make sure everybody is good, with all the head coaches in the room on that. Everybody good there?’’ Patricia asked. “Again there’s some wind out there , some gusts, probably a good idea to practice inside. It’s all based on what’s best for the team at that moment.’’

The Lions are 3-6 and preparing to play the Carolina Panthers (6-3) on Sunday at Ford Field.

In Patricia’s remarks he started off by saying: “First, we’ll always practice and train in a manner that looks out for our players’ ability to prepare each week for our poopent while taking care of including all parameters to the overall health and safety of our team. Indoor walk-throughs which we had this week which we’ve also had in the past are always beneficial to our team, beneficial to our players, it’s a great teaching and learning environment. It’s an opportunity to pull off physically the demands of practice …’’

He went on, saying the downside of practicing on the indoor turf is the wearing effect it has on players’ bodies.

“Standing on turf or running on turf often time for extended periods of time affects joints, affects swelling and causes the bodies on different members of our team to have pain or joint swelling that will cause them further delay,’’ Patricia said.

He said he wanted to work in pads on fundamentals so Thursday’s practice was outdoors.

“Practicing in pads on turf is a little bit of an extra risk in my mind in some of those situations where feet or footwork might be stuck in the turf in different situations where as the grass or natural ground has a little more give. In those situations it’s safer for us to go outside in practice in pads …’’ said Patricia whose Lions are 3-6.

“Going outside yesterday allowed us the opportunity to focus on our fundamentals which we needed to do and take care and make sure we’re technically sound in some of our footwork. … The focus is most of the skilled players have to keep their feet underneath them be able to break with low center of gravity and play technically sound which is always good from a fundamental standpoint it was  a good opportunity to get that done. The temperature outside was not a factor it was not cold, there was not a heavy wind. It was an easy day for us to go outside and get some good work done.’’

It was in the low 30s and snowing on Thursday when Patricia wore shorts at practice.

“Working through conditions that are not ideal as a football team is also another benefit for us to take live learning environments and turn them into actual teaching moments outside. It also allows us to focus on details of technique and the awareness of our surroundings which we’ll have to play through at some point through the course of the year,’’ Patricia said.

The Lions play at Buffalo on Dec. 16.

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Detroit Lions Matt Patricia, Jim Bob Cooter defend Matthew Stafford

Former backup Dan Orlovsky also chips in

ALLEN PARK — With a three-game losing streak, it’s not surprising that Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has come under intense scrutiny.

It wasn’t just the three straight losses, it was the way the Lions lost. It seemed like they weren’t in the game from kickoff and it wasn’t close. They lost those three by a combined score of 86-45.

In those three games — the last two played without top wide receiver Golden Tate — Stafford threw four touchdowns and three interceptions while he was sacked a total of 19 times.

It’s not just Stafford who has been roasted, it’s the whole team.

Coach Matt Patricia, who usually stops short of praising or ripping individual players,  supported Stafford in his Wednesday press conference.

“Matt Stafford, we’re blessed to have him as our quarterback, we’re lucky to have him as our quarterback. This is a guy that’s extremely tough, he’s extremely competitive, a guy that works harder than anybody in the building every single day to get better,’’ Patricia said. “For him as a quarterback, for his due diligence, the work he does every single week, that’s not an easy position to play in the NFL. When you have the defenses that we’ve seen the last couple weeks coming at you from those different directions, playing in stadiums that are not easy to play in, under conditions that are not easy to play under, I would say it’s part of the game, his toughness that he portrays through all those situations, his ability to come back and go right back at it with that tenacious attitude and effort. I’ll take that every single day.

“He’s a great quarterback, he works extremely hard, he’s our leader on offense, we’re going to keep pushing and he’s going to keep leading which is great for us,’’ the coach added.

Of course Patricia would not explain exactly what has happened to the offense in the three losses.

“There’s definitely been some things that we’ve identified that are issues, it’s not really just one thing. It’s been a multitude of different things through the course of these past couple games that have been an issue. I’m going to be real honest I’m not going to give you specific details because there are other people that listen to this stuff,’’ Patricia said. “They’re watching the tape let them figure it out for themselves. But hopefully if there’s anything out there that they’re taking a look at we’ll get it corrected before we see it again which will happen.’’

No one on the Lions’ coaching staff doubts the toughness of Stafford who has started 121 consecutive games. That includes offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter.

“Stafford’s a really tough guy. Obviously offensively, I have to do a better job and we have to do a better job of protecting our quarterback through play-calling, scheme, execution, all those things,’’ Cooter said on Tuesday. “At the end of the day, we have to get that number down and do a better job with that. Stafford hangs in there, Stafford’s a tough guy. He’ll take a hit when needed. We just need to do a better job of protecting him. It starts with me, I have to improve the way we’re going about doing that and fix some of those errors.”

But, like Patricia, Cooter wouldn’t get into specifics about Stafford’s performance.

“I’m really not huge on getting into player evaluations through the media and all that stuff. We talk through all that stuff in-house here, that’s sort of Detroit Lions information,’’ Cooter said. “We’re talking through everything, evaluating every snap during the game, during practice, what we’re doing well, what we can do better. Same thing with, ‘This play’s good, that play’s not that great,’ during a practice week. We’re discussing a lot of things and that’s some in-house business I’m not looking to share with the media.”

Stafford also got a nod of support from ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky, who was Stafford’s backup from 2014 to 2016.

Orlovsky shared his thoughts on Twitter: “Just rewatched & studied Bears game for the Lions: This is 100% unbiased & keeping it real 1) I know Offensive ball and QB play really well, & this offense, in and out 2) Matthew played very good. 1 miss-read 1 miss throw. FAR FROM THE PROBLEM 3) They’re struggling to win vs Man.”

Stafford and the Lions play the Carolina Panthers (6-3) on Sunday at Ford Field.

The Lions’ offense has a long way to go and it will be tough against the Panthers’ defense which has 21 sacks so far including three by Julius Peppers.

Stopping running back Christian McCaffrey, who has scored seven touchdowns in the past three games, and Cam Newton who has thrown at least two touchdown passes in eight consecutive games, is a tall order for the Lions defense which has under-performed for the past three weeks.

EXTRA: Patricia canceled practice and instead had a walk-through on Wednesday. He said he’s changing things up due to the schedule of three games in 12 days, ending on Thanksgiving. The media is not allowed to view walk-throughs while practice is open for a short period due to NFL rules.

 

 

 

Five thoughts from Lions coach Matt Patricia on day after loss to Bears

No staff changes on the horizon

ALLEN PARK — Breaking it down, coach Matt Patricia is leaning on hard work, fundamentals and a grind-it-out approach to making improvements after a 3-6 start by the Lions.

They have lost three straight by double digits — including Sunday’s 34-22 loss at the Bears — and now play two games in the next 10 days.

First up are the Carolina Panthers (6-3) who played on Thursday so have had 11 days to prepare for the Lions. Then they face the Bears (6-3) again on Thanksgiving.

Patricia, in his first year as a head coach, has the coach-speak down. It’s the winning that has eluded him.

Five thoughts from his Monday press conference:

1. The coach downplayed any notion that the Lions are not prepared for the opposition each week. “We’re preparing hard every week. I don’t think we’ve walked into any game this year where we haven’t had any idea about our opponent,’’ Patricia said. Maybe so, but from all appearances the Lions are getting out-coached weekly. No doubt they spend hours watching film and work hard at practice. Taking it from the practice field to Sunday? That is often the untold story.

2. He also said they are sticking together — no divisiveness or finger-pointing in the locker room after a 3-6 start to the season. “I think overall the general mood is going to be disappointment for us, I know it’s disappointment from the fans. We’re all trying to get better and we’re all trying to work hard and make sure that doesn’t happen,’’ Patricia said. “We come in every single day and every single week, it’s not easy in the NFL we know that. Part of our job is to go out there and make sure we get better every single day and that’s what we’re trying to do.’’ It’s just something that has not been accomplished yet.

3. Patricia leans big on improving fundamentals on the Mondays after losses. It was no different on Monday. “Definitely some things on tape that we’ve got to get fixed like I mentioned (Sunday). A lot of it has to do with definitely some fundamental issues we’d like to get better,’’ Patricia said. “I think there was some things on tape that could get better from a fundamental standpoint that we worked on last week so that was good. Maybe just a little more consistency in all those areas would be better. We’ve got to keep the emphasis on the coaching part of that make sure that happens during the course and the course of the week.’’

4. Last week, Patricia fired special teams coordinator Joe Marciano after the loss at the Vikings. This was his reply on Monday when asked if there will be more changes: “It was what it was, we’re just pushing forward this week, we’re just on schedule , grinding away. We’re not doing anything right now.’’

5. Ziggy Ansah played in his second consecutive game, after missing six with a shoulder injury. The defensive end did not start and was on the field for just 15 snaps (26 percent of the defense) on Sunday. The previous week it was a dozen snaps (24 percent). “We’re trying to put him in positions where he can make some plays, put him in a situation where he can perform at a high level, but there’s some other players out there on the field we’re using in some different situations – we’re kind of rolling all those guys,’’ Patricia said. “He certainly has a role right now that he’s trying to work through to get better and hopefully get a little bit more as we go through the course of the rest of the season.’’ He didn’t guarantee more work for Ansah, instead saying it’s a work in progress.’’ Ansah had a sack in each of his two previous games this season. But on Sunday, he broke his strong of four straight games with at least a sack.

EXTRA: Sam Martin is OK and said he will play on Sunday against the Panthers. The punter was taken by ambulance to a Chicago hospital as a precaution after the game, but flew back to Detroit with the team. He would not give any specifics.

 

 

Lions play poorly in 34-22 loss at Chicago: Five key reasons they lost third straight

Blame starts with coaching staff

When an NFL coach talks about working on fundamentals midway through a season, it’s a sign that something is not right in the kingdom. That’s exactly what coach Matt Patricia discussed after an embarrassing loss at the Vikings a week ago.

This season, Patricia’s first, was not billed as a rebuild season. This team finished 9-7 last season and was supposed to improve.

So what happened on Sunday in Chicago — a 34-22 beat-down by the Bears — should not have come as a surprise.

The Lions are 3-6. The season is toast. Would they have an outside chance if they ran the table? Perhaps, but the way they have played the last three weeks the odds of winning a Mega Millions jackpot are better.

Sunday’s loss was just more of the same:

1. Matt Patricia does not get a pass. This team was not ready to play. Part of that might be on the players, but he is ultimately responsible. He was welcomed to Detroit as a savior of sorts direct from the Patriots. He has much to prove in his first stint as an NFL head coach. Jim Caldwell was fired because GM Bob Quinn thought the 9-7 team last year was talented and under-performed with Caldwell. Well, guess what? They’ve added two running backs and key pieces on the defense and they continue sliding backward. Those wins against the Patriots and Packers are befuddling. Patricia talks a ton about changing the culture, but Caldwell did a good job of that. Patricia should be fine-tuning this squad, not reinventing the wheel.

2. The defense made Mitch Trubisky look perfect. He nearly was, finishing with 355 passing yards and three touchdowns.. Several of his big-play passes — he threw eight of more than 20 yards — went to receivers who were wide open and it wasn’t even close. Of course the Lions missed cornerback Darius Slay who was out with a knee injury, but not sure his presence would have made much difference. Offensively the Bears finished with 402 net yards compared to 305 for the Lions. At one points the Bears had a 244-44 edge in yards.

3. Matthew Stafford was sacked six times. In the fourth quarter Khalil Mack ran over left tackle Taylor Decker like he was a pylon. There’s blame all around for the sacks. Receivers are well covered which is why Stafford often waits too long. The offensive line was playing without right guard T.J. Lang, but they have to be better. They focused on protection during the week after Stafford was sacked 10 times by the Vikings a week ago. Much more work to do.

4. The offensive fits and starts have become commonplace. Stafford has to run a better show even without Golden Tate. Stafford finished 25 of 42 for 274 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions, was sacked six times and had a 74.9 rating. Tate was his go-to guy on third downs maybe that’s why the Lions were 4 of 15 (27 percent) on third-down conversions.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

5. Rookie Kerryon Johnson (6 carries, a rushing and a passing touchdown) continues to be one of the few bright spots along with wide receiver Kenny Golladay. The running back averaged 3.6 per carry. Golladay (6 catches, 78 yards, 1 touchdown) caught the first pass on the first play from scrimmage and he caught a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter when it was too late to matter. Without Tate, Golladay has to take advantage of his opportunities. Also it’s up to Stafford and offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter to get him involved start to finish.

UP  NEXT: Lions host the Carolina Panthers (6-3) on Sunday, Nov. 18 at Ford Field. Then on Thanksgiving they face the Bears again at Ford Field.

 

Lions minus Slay, Lang, Willson and more as they face Bears in Chicago

Ziggy Ansah active; Zach Zenner returns

The Detroit Lions will be without several key players at Soldier Field to play the NFC North leading Chicago Bears today. Kickoff is 1 p.m.

Cornerback Darius Slay (knee) will miss first game this season. He didn’t practice all week and his status was announced on Friday.

Right guard T.J. Lang (neck) has suffered from a variety of injuries this season and also missed games in Weeks 2 and 5. The LIons announced on Friday that he wouldn’t play today.

Linebacker Eli Harold (shoulder) was added to the inactive list on Saturday.

Linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin (neck) and tight end Luke Willson (shoulder) will not play. They were  listed as questionable on Friday.

Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (shoulder) will play in his second game.

Running back Kerryon Johnson (ankle) was questionable but is a go.

Running back Zach Zenner, who was released in September with a back injury, was re-signed on Tuesday and is active today. Expect to see him on special teams.

Other Lions’ inactives: Wide receiver Bruce Ellington and offensive lineman Andrew Donnal.

The Lions are barely hanging in the NFC North race with a 3-5 record. Today’s game could be a turning point in the season.

Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears: Five things to watch

Chicago sits atop NFC North

ALLEN PARK — It’s the second straight division game for the Lions who failed miserably at the Vikings last week.

It doesn’t get any easier, going up against the Chicago Bears (5-3), the leaders in the NFC North. The Vikings are in second (5-3-1) with the Packers (3-4-1) in third and the Lions (3-5) in the basement.

The Lions have won their last two games at Soldier Field but this team is different and still difficult to figure out due to inconsistent play week in and week out.

It will be a little tougher without two key starters who are sidelined with injuries. Cornerback Darius Slay (knee) and right guard T.J. Lang will be out.

The Bears have won all five of their games against less-than-stellar teams. One of those teams is the Seahawks (4-4), who smacked the Lions two weeks ago. The Bears also beat the Cardinals (2-6), Tampa Bay (3-5), Jets (3-6) and the Bills (2-7). That’s a combined 14-28 win-loss record.

If the Lions have any hope of turning around this season and matching their 9-7 record from last season, defeating the Bears would be a great place to start.

Five things to watch:

1. The offensive line must adjust and provide more protection for Stafford who was sacked 10 times by the Vikings. It was not all on the line, but they didn’t help. Patricia said it was lack of fundamentals and execution that led to the wretched loss at Minnesota last week. So he planned to get back to basics at practice this week. “I like our offensive line a lot. These guys work extremely hard. The offensive line is a hard group to play in. Like you said, my background with the o-line, I understand that, again, I think I’ve mentioned this before, when you try to see the game through the same set of eyes five different way, it’s not easy,’’ Patricia said. This week they’ll be without Lang and they’ll be facing big-time Bears disruptors DT Akiem Hicks and LB Khalil Mack.

2. Matthew Stafford has had a rough go in the last two weeks, both losses. In that span he has completed 68.4 percent of his pass attempts for 509 yards which is not bad considering he was sacked 13 times. He has taken the blame for some of those sacks and maybe he held on too long trying to make something happen. But also it’s tough to throw to receivers who can’t get open. He also lost one fumble in each of the last two weeks. “I’m sure if you sort out certain numbers and don’t really take into account game situations, you can kind of make them say whatever you would like,’’ offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said when asked about Stafford. “Our job is to do what we can do to score points to help our team win games. It’s on us to keep ourselves in a good game situation so that we do have multiple avenues available to us to attack a defense. Sometimes we have this year and sometimes we have been a little bit further behind than we should be.’’

3. Grabbing a lead early, once again is key. The Bears have outscored opponents 120-51 in the first half — 75-23 in the second quarter. The Lions need a good start, especially with the way they’ve played the last two weeks, to have a chance of winning. Stafford used to be able to fight back and come from behind in the fourth quarter, but not sure that’s much of a possibility this season. “I think it’s on our list of musts every week, is to start fast. And that’s as a team. I’m a big part of that team, I understand that, and doing what I can do to help us get points,’’ Stafford said. “Converting third downs, hitting big shots when we get it, just making sure that when we have those opportunities from the opening kickoff that we’re ready to go. The more I can hit the throws and make the right checks, all that kind of stuff, the better we’re going to be.”

4. The defense has to stop the run and the Bears have a dynamic duo in Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen who are two different kinds of backs. “Jordan Howard, a big powerful guy, downhill type of back, who has enough speed, keeps the ball rolling for them. Tarik is very dynamic, very explosive, (he can) do it all, he runs between the tackles, he runs outside, he runs routes, catches passes, screens, they get him involved a lot of different ways,’’ safety Glover Quin said. “It’s definitely going to be a challenge for us. We have to identify who’s in the ball game and understand how to play against each guy’s skill sets because they are two dynamic players.’’ And he noted that at times both backs are on the field together.

5. Mitchell Trubisky is a young quarterback who has shown much improvement over last season, completing 64.2 percent of his passes with 16 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He’s also mobile quarterback.  “If things break down and he runs and there’s a receiver open, he’s going to throw it to that receiver as he’s advancing towards the line of scrimmage. He has more of a tendency to put the ball away and go with it as opposed to trying to get outside the pocket, reset, look downfield and throw the ball,’’ Lions defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni said.

PREDICTION: Bears 24, Lions 17

Lions Glover Quin says season not lost

‘As long as we have a chance, we have a chance’

ALLEN PARK — Glover Quin’s glass is half-full until it’s knocked to the floor and shattered.

The safety, a veteran of 10 NFL seasons, does not think the Lions season is over despite their  3-5 record.

“For me, and I say this whenever it’s appropriate, the season is not lost until it’s lost. As long as we have a chance, we have a chance,’’ Quin said on Wednesday. “If we’re not mathematically eliminated on Sunday, we’ve still got a chance. It’s just the NFL.’’

Of course he is right. Technically the Lions are still in the NFC North hunt. It’s just difficult to imagine they could finish on top due to the last two games, both lopsided losses — one to the Seahawks, one to the Vikings.

“I think when you look at these games, the Seattle game I mean we just didn’t make the plays, we were there, we were in position, we were here and there we just didn’t make the plays, that’s on us,’’ Quin said.

“You look at this last game against Minnesota, we gave up a big run on a mis-fit whatever but we played pretty solid defense for the most part in that game,’’ Quin said referring to a 70-yard Dalvin Cook scamper.

“Second half I don’t think we gave up a point. They had the first drive where they scored on us, the one run and they got a score. I think we’ve been playing pretty well we just have to put it all together. We’ve got to put together a full performance, where offensively we play well and control the game, defensively we play well and keep them off the field, and special teams we control the games and make some big plays,’’ Quin said.

“This league, this game. everything is about momentum, about confidence. When you’ve lost two in a row you just have to dive deeper and do whatever it takes to get a win because all it takes you get that one win, confidence gets high, then coming home for three straight games, you never know. It’s really on us we have to prepare well and go to Chicago with the mindset to get a win,’’ he added.

The Bears (5-3) are atop the NFC North. They are 3-1 at home with wins over Seattle, Tampa Bay and the Jets. The Lions are 4-1 in their last five visits to Chicago’s Soldier Field.

“Look at it, the Texans started out 0-3 and they won six in a row now they’re 6-3 and everybody’s talking about, ‘Oh man it’s  the greatest team,’’’ Quin said. “So who knows once you start playing well, you get on a roll, things start happening, you can win what do we have eight  games left? You never know what can happen. Like I always say, and I’ve been saying it in the past, until we’re mathematically eliminated we have a chance and that’s how we have to approach it.’’

.In Detroit’s only two divisional games so far they beat the Packers and lost to the Vikings. They will play the Bears again on Thanksgiving at Ford Field.