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.