Seven months. Coach Matt Patricia and his staff had seven months to prepare for the N.Y. Jets. The results are shameful.
The Lions are coming off a 9-7 season which was not good enough to keep Jim Caldwell around. On paper it’s a decent NFL team. Not elite, but it should be at least an eight- or nine-win team.
This is not a rebuild. This is a team that should re ready to take the next step, a playoff win.
Then came a stinker like Monday when the Lions lost 48-17 at Ford Field to the Jets and their rookie quarterback Sam Darnold.
Color me befuddled.
It would be understandable if Stafford happened to have a bad day but the defense and special teams held their own. Or any variation of that – defense bad and Stafford and special teams good. Or, if one of the key players had been out with an injury it would have been a little less befuddling.
But it was all three phases that stunk in Monday night’s debacle. Even Matt Prater missed two field goals.
Stafford threw four interceptions and afterward several Jets defenders said they knew what play the Lions were going to run by their formations and Stafford’s hand signals, according to Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports.
How can that happen? Patricia is a defensive guru — he’s the guy who has been looking for tells on other offenses. How can he not see them in his own offense?
He took partial blame, but should have put it all on his shoulders. That’s what Stafford did – he told his teammates that loss was on him. That’s a sign of a leader.
Look back to 2009 when Jim Schwartz, also a first-year head coach, took over the Lions who had stumbled to an 0-16 record in 2008. That was a job no one wanted. The roster he inherited had more weak points than strengths (Calvin Johnson). Matthew Stafford was a 21-year-old rookie. The team culture was all about losing. The roster didn’t have near the talent or depth that today’s does.
The 2009 season opener was in New Orleans, a tough place for any NFL team to win except the Saints. Drew Brees threw six touchdown passes and zero interceptions while Stafford threw three interceptions and zero touchdowns. And, yes, the Lions lost, but the score was 45-27. Detroit had 33 rushing yards, even then it was a weak point. It was not a great start for Schwartz, but considering where the Lions came from, it was not that upsetting.
In 2014, Jim Caldwell won his first game as Lions coach on a Monday night against the Giants, 35-14, at Ford Field. Those Lions were coming off a 7-9 season that got Schwartz fired.
That was then, this is now. Patricia’s message has been “last year was last year.”
Well, last year is looking pretty good.