Five reasons the Lions lost to the Texans

DETROIT — The Detroit Lions’ fourth straight loss on Thanksgiving, could be the end for coach Matt Patricia.

The Lions’ three turnovers told just part of the story in the 41-25 loss to the Houston Texans (4-7) at Ford Field on Thursday.  

“It’s not good enough, we know that, we’ve got to be better,’’ Patricia said.

The coach could finish out this his third season, the Ford family hasn’t had anything to say since a year ago when they said they wanted to see the Lions play meaningful games in December.

Well at 4-7, really there is no meaning at all. The ball is in owner Sheila Ford Hamp’s court. It’s got to be  just a matter of time at this point. In nearly three seasons, Patricia is 13-29-1.

Patricia would not comment on his future with the team. “I focus one day at a time, that doesn’t change,’’ the coach said.

Five reasons the Lions lost:

1. The Lions lost two fumbles — one by Kerryon Johnson and another by Jonathan Williams. Who? Yes, it was the running back’s first carry this season for the Loins and he fumbled the ball. Why was he in the game? Adrian Peterson was getting a breather but Kerryon Johnson was available. A total head-scratcher.

2. Matthew Stafford threw just one interception but it was costly. It was picked off by J.J. Watt (his first interception this season) and returned 20 yards for a touchdown. “Big turnovers at the beginning of the game killed the momentum it made it tough to come back,’’ Stafford said. He credited Watt for making a great play on the interception. Stafford passed for 295 yards and one touchdown. He was also sacked four times. The play-calling was mostly predictable again. Adrian Peterson ran on the first play of three of the Lions’ series. Tight end T.J. Hockenson was the go-to guy with five catches for 89 yards.

3. The Lions’ secondary was dinged up and missing Jeff Okudah, Amani Oruwariye and Mike Ford. Then Desmond Trufant pulled a hamstring and couldn’t finish. Still no excuses. It was a great day for Deshaun Watson who didn’t have much trouble finding wide-open receivers. Wide open. He threw for 318 yards including four touchdown passes and was sacked just twice.

4. Even without D’Andre Swift (concussion) the Lions run game was decent. After a slow start (eight carries for six yards), Adrian Peterson had a good stretch in the second half and finished with 15 carries for 55 yards. Kerryon Johnson stepped up with 11 carries for 46 yards and four catches for 52 yards. Decent is not good enough.

5. Coaching. At the start of the third quarter, the Lions, who were down 23-14, ran on 10 straight plays. That drive ended in a Matt Prater field goal. Eating up the clock when down 9 points? That’s only in the Patricia playbook. Coaching is an issue each week which is why Sheila Ford Hamp has to take a serious look at Patricia’s future. His firing would send a message to the team. It is not going to get them to the playoffs, but this team needs a new message and messenger. So do the fans.

Next up: Lions at Chicago, Dec. 6.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

Five things to watch as Detroit Lions face Texans

The Lions look to snap a three-game losing streak on Thanksgiving Day when they face the Houston Texans at Ford Field.

The Lions (4-6) are coming off one of the most embarrassing losses in recent years (and that says a lot), after they were shut out 20-0 on Sunday at Carolina.

It’s quite the opposite for the Texans (3-7) who beat the Patriots 27-20 on Sunday.

Coach Matt Patricia’s job could be on the line after this game. While he said he saw some positives on the film from Carolina, he could not sugarcoat it.

“Obviously, the negative was there, and it was glaring and that’s what we’re trying to get fixed,’’ said Patricia who has uttered basically the same thing every week.

Five things to watch:

1. Matthew Stafford was pressured all day long and sacked five times by the Panthers. It won’t get any easier facing J.J. Watt who has four sacks and eight quarterback hits in the first 10 games. “I would say the thing about this guy that is amazing is how competitive he is all the way through the game,’’ Patricia said. “It doesn’t matter the situation, this guy always has that mentality that he’s going to make a play to win, and a lot of times, he does. You see games where defenses have had him wrapped up in the backfield and it’s a sack and the game is over, and he gets out, he gets his eyes downfield, he makes an amazing throw and threads the needle.’’

2. The offensive could get a boost with the likely return of running back D’Andre Swift who was out on Sunday with a concussion. He practiced on limited basis on Tuesday and is questionable for the game. He could provide a big plus. If he’s not ready, Kerryon Johnson should get a better look. Give him a start and a chance to prove himself. Adrian Peterson may be a future Hall of Famer, but he hasn’t had the production needed for this offense in recent games.

3. Wide receivers Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola didn’t play on Sunday and will be sidelined again on Thursday. One thing is for certain, whoever is on the receiving end of a Stafford pass needs to catch the ball and hold on. Drops were one of many issues at Carolina.

4. The defense faces another top quarterback in Deshaun Watson who has thrown 20 touchdown passes against just five interceptions. “I would say the thing about this guy that is amazing is how competitive he is all the way through the game. It doesn’t matter the situation, this guy always has that mentality that he’s going to make a play to win, and a lot of times, he does. You see games where defenses have had him wrapped up in the backfield and it’s a sack and the game is over, and he gets out, he gets his eyes downfield, he makes an amazing throw and threads the needle,’’ Patricia said. 

5. Coaching has to improve, players need to be better prepared even on a short week. On Sunday, TV analyst Chris Spielman suggested on a Panthers’ third-down and long play they would go to Curtis Samuel like they usually do. Bingo. And the pass was complete because the Lions weren’t prepared. It wasn’t a lucky guess by Spielman, it was because he had done his homework. Funny how that works.

Prediction: Texans 28, Lions 17

Lions QB Matthew Stafford says no back surgery, no lingering issues

May lead league in forced situations in practice

ALLEN PARK — Matthew Stafford hasn’t played a snap in the first two preseason games, but it apparently has nothing to do with his back which he injured late last season.

On Monday the Detroit Lions quarterback said he had no offseason surgery and is not doing extra rehab for the back. 

“I’m just practicing. I do a little core routine,’’ Stafford said. “I feel good. When they tell me to go play I’ll play, I’ve played a lot of football …whenever coach tells me to go play I’ll play.’’

Stafford and the Lions were back at it on Monday after taking a break after their second preseason game — a 30-23 loss at the Houston Texans on Saturday night.

Stafford said there’s no definitive time on how much he wants to — or should — play in the preseason games.  After all, he faces “live bullets” every day at camp.

“We probably lead the league in forced situations in practice, I would imagine we do,’’ Stafford said. “We do 2-point plays in the middle of practice — two-minute, a random fourth-and-8 where you have to throw it in there no matter what, all that kind of stuff,’’ Stafford said. “We’re put in situations all over the place at any given moment in practice and it’s good to practice it and force yourself to be aware of those situations when they come up.’’

He was positive about the two sessions of joint practices they had in the last few weeks with the Patriots and Texans. 

“I don’t prefer either way, to be honest with you but I know the work we get in those practices is great,’’ Stafford said. “Really able to push our limits schematically to see what’s working and what’s not.’’

It’s difficult to evaluate just where the offense is with new coordinator and after two preseason losses.

“I think we still have a lot of things to clean up, a lot of details, as does every team in the preseason,’’ Stafford said. “I’ve been a part of some preseasons where I feel like we were lighting it up on offense and maybe the season didn’t go that way. And I’ve felt the opposite and you know we were struggling to put points up, then you go put a lot of points up in the season.

“The biggest thing is we have a great group of guys pushing to get better every day. Whether you have a great preseason or you don’t  or a great week 1, it’s all got to be pushing toward peaking at the right time.’’

The Lions host the Buffalo Bills on Friday night at Ford Field for their third preseason contest. Typically starters see the most time in the third preseason game, but there’s no guarantee Stafford will play on that night.