Frustrated Lions DT Ricky Jean Francois after loss to Rams: We can’t keep losing

He doesn’t believe in moral victories

DETROIT — While Detroit lost 30-16 to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday at Ford Field, the Lions’ defense showed positive signs against one of the NFL’s top offenses.

However, no one was claiming a moral victory.

“It sounds cute, that’s all it is. It sounds good enough to make a story that we gave a run to the L.A. Rams. At the end of the day we still lost. There’s no such thing as moral victories. We don’t have that in our head,’’ defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois said. “… We didn’t go out there, we didn’t do our job, we didn’t win. At the end of the day there’s no such thing as a moral victory, I still see an L instead of a W.’’

Francois is one of the outspoken leaders on the team who is not afraid to show his emotions after a loss. Sunday was no different.

The veteran was frustrated to see the Lions fall to 4-8, dropping five of their last six games.

“I can’t speak for them, I can’t speak for none of the guys in the locker room. I know I’m tired (of losing), I’m done with that (expletive). That is unfamiliar to me, losing all the time. At some point, we have to have a breaking point,” Francois said. “Tonight, we have to go home and look at ourselves in the mirror and check ourselves. Are we doing enough to win? Are we helping this team to win, and are we helping ourselves and our team to put us in a position to start putting wins up? Last few games we were playing playoff caliber teams. It’s not going to get easier. We just played probably one of the teams that’s going to be in for the NFC Championship, or probably further. We have to learn how to start playing at these levels. We have to learn how to start playing playoff teams. We have to learn how to execute and learn how to close. When we learn how to close, when we learn how to do that, we’re just going to keep having this conversation.”

He wasn’t done.

“That’s the most high-powered offense in the NFL, we held them to the point they had to grind for every point. They did it though,’’ Francois said. “They were physically and mentally ready to come in and win this game. You have to cash in, you have to get to that point where you’re tired of losing. That has to irk you, that has to keep you up at night. We can’t keep losing.’’

Losing doesn’t sit well on him and it hasn’t since the preseason.

“Nobody has to teach you how to learn, you have to have that within you , you’ve got to know how to win yourself. No matter what the situation is you’ve got to know how to master, how to close that game,’’ Francois said. “You’ve got to know how to cash in on situations, win the two minutes, win the end of the half, all types of stuff. No coach in this building, no coach in the NFL can teach an NFL player how to win you have to have that within you.’’

When specifically asked about what was wrong with the Lions, he had a Bo Schembechler like answer: “The team, the team, the team.’’

Next Sunday the Lions play at Arizona (3-9). The Cardinals upset the Packers, 20-17, at Green Bay on Sunday.

Francois said he hopes all three phases can learn something from Sunday’s loss.

“I understand what (Arizona’s) record is, but that’s a hard-playing team. …  I’m just tired of losing. All of us in this building are tired of losing,’’ Francois said.

Lions without Kerryon Johnson, Mike Roberts; Teez Tabor inactive again

Nick Bellore misses first game

DETROIT >> The Detroit Lions (4-7) will face the Los Angeles Rams (10-1) today without top running back Kerryon Johnson who misses his second straight game with a knee injury. Expect LeGarrette Blount to pick up more carries like he did against the Bears on Thanksgiving.

Fullback Nick Bellore (ankle) and wide receiver Brandon Powell (calf) were also declared out on Friday. Tight end Michael Roberts (shoulder) was doubtful and is out.

Cornerback Teez Tabor will miss his second straight game. He’s healthy —  it’s a coach’s decision.

Wide receiver Bruce Ellington (back) and linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin (neck) were questionable but are active.

Wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr., was placed on injured reserve earlier this week.

Other inactives: Linebaker Trevor Bates and defensive end Kerry Hyder.

 

 

Five things to watch as Detroit Lions host the Los Angeles Rams

Ndamukong Suh makes first return visit to Ford Field

A young coach, a balanced offense with a solid quarterback and a defensive line featuring Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh. The combination has spelled success for the Los Angeles Rams and why wouldn’t it? Any NFL team would like to have some or most of those components.

That includes the Detroit Lions (4-7) who will host the Rams (10-1) on Sunday.

“They’re a very balanced offense and I think something we talk about all the time, that when you can be balanced on offense, it’s very difficult to defend and they’ve done a great job of that all year,’’ coach Matt Patricia said.

The Lions will have their hands full in all three phases.

“One of the things that’s really important with this team is just understanding how good they are on special teams and how good they are defensively. I think John Fassel does a phenomenal job on special teams. It’s one of the most dominant units in the league,’’ Patricia said. “They’re very consistent and they really make big plays.’’

Five things to watch:

1. Somehow, some way the Lions must get their run game going even without running back Kerryon Johnson who will miss his second straight game with a knee injury. LeGarrette Blount was the workhorse in the Thanksgiving loss to the Bears with 19 carries for 88 yards. “I think for our guys, we’re always on the program of whoever’s out there playing, we’re expecting everybody to do their best and go out and perform at a high level. We’ll do the same this weekend,’’ Patricia said.

2. Can’t overlook the Lions’ passing game either. Marvin Jones is out for the season, leaving Kenny Golladay, Bruce Ellington, TJ Jones, Theo Riddick  and the tight ends to pitch in. Matthew Stafford needs a better game, but he also needs his receivers to get open and run the right routes. Offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said the shortcomings on offense are all on him. “It’s a team game. We have 11 guys out there. We all have to execute and be on the same page. A lot of that stuff’s on me. You guys at home don’t always know exactly what’s going on on the field. I’m accountable for everything that happens on this offense. Bad things that happen, things that don’t happen right, whether it’s a decision or being in a different spot, or some sort of decision somebody out there on the field is making that maybe isn’t even seen on the TV copy of the game. That stuff’s all on me,’’ Cooter said this week.

3. Stop running back Todd Gurley, the NFL’s second most prolific back. The Lions run defense has been one of the few units that has improved this season, holding teams to a total of 148 rushing yards combined over the last three games. (See blog below.)

4. Pressure quarterback Jared Goff (26 touchdowns, 6 interceptions) who has been sacked 24 times. He’s got a flotilla of solid receivers in Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods. “They’re a very explosive team. They do a great job with the scheme. Coach (Sean) McVay does an outstanding job of controlling the game on the offensive side of the ball with tempo. They use different tempos, they probably have about three or four different tempos that they can use offensively to dictate the game. So, we just have to do a good job of being really sound fundamentally and making sure that we’re doing a good job with our reads and our eye control.

5. Ndamukong Suh will return for his first game at Ford Field since he signed as a free agent with Miami in 2015. He and defensive tackle Aaron Donald are a powerful inside force that could present problems for the Lions’ offensive line and Stafford.

PREDICTION: Rams 35, Lions 17