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.

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Five main reasons Detroit Lions lost to Seattle Seahawks

Detroit falls to 3-4; next up at Vikings

DETROIT — It’s not just that the Seahawks were well rested coming off  a bye week, they were better prepared for whatever they would face against the Detroit Lions.

Quality coaching by Pete Carroll and overall solid execution led to a 28-14 win over the Lions at Ford Field on Sunday.

For the Lions (3-4), it was complete failure in all three phases. It was ugly.

Coach Matt Patricia took partial blame afterward, as well he should.

“It was a bad job coaching, bad job playing. We have to do a better job getting prepared during the week. (We) played a very good Seattle Seahawks team. Give them credit. They came out, they out-performed us,’’ Patricia said. “Pete (Carroll) had his crew ready to go coming off the Bye week and we just couldn’t stay with them at all. So, I have to do a better job getting the team ready.’’

And certainly much is on him.

Veteran defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois, who is not afraid to speak his mind, said the team came out flat and unfocused.

“We didn’t focus on nothing, we couldn’t stop the run, and we let the Seattle offense control the game. We killed ourselves in penalties, we didn’t connect with their plays and we didn’t focus at all. We were just out there playing,’’ Francois said.

When running back Ameer Abdullah was asked if the team hit cruise control, he had a one-word answer: “Obviously.”

That is on coaching.

After winning two straight, it looked like the Lions were turning the corner in Patricia’s first season. Now it looks like they’ve fallen down the stairs and it’s uncertain if they can climb back up.

Five main reasons the Lions lost:

1. The defense did not in any fashion resemble the same bunch that beat the Patriots and Packers. It looked like they’d reverted to their status when they were embarrassed by the Jets in the season opener. Patricia, supposedly a defensive guru, has problems here. They can’t be this inconsistent week to week if they want to win. On the snaps where newly acquired nose tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison was on the field, they were more effective at stopping running backs Chris Carson (25 carries, 105 yards) and Mike Davis (10 carries, 33 yards). That’s potentially a good sign, but it can’t all be up to the new guy. “Seattle’s run the ball really well, so we knew it was going to be a big challenge for us. It’s a full-team effort in the run game,’’ Patricia said. “We have to get everybody executing better. … We have to get the fits right and we have to get off some blocks and we need to get our fundamentals better. So, that’s the bottom line.’’

2. Matthew Stafford fumbled and lost the ball and also threw an interception. Both were fourth-quarter miscues. Can’t happen. Stafford said if he would’ve had two hands on the ball he wouldn’t have lost it. He only blamed himself. The Lions were first-and-goal at Seattle’s 4-yard line when cornerback Justin Coleman stepped in front of Golden Tate at the 1-yard line and got his mitts on the ball. A touchdown would have closed the gap to a 7-point deficit and left the chance the Lions could pull out a last-second comeback. Stafford finished 27 of 40 for 310 yards, two touchdowns and a 96.9 rating.

3. Special teams play stunk too. They had penalties on a punt and on two kickoffs. Ameer Abdullah, who was returning kickoffs, fumbled and lost the ball in the second quarter. Sam Martin shanked a 28-yard punt late in the third quarter to give the Seahawks the ball at their own 28, when the defense needed them to be backed up. Patricia wouldn’t specifically address the special teams woes. “Right now, I’m not really pleased with any phase,’’ the coach said.

4. When the Lions run the ball well, offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter looks like a genius. They only rushed for 34 yards with just 13 carries. They stuck with the run early but once they were down 21-7 in the second quarter they need to play catch-up by passing the ball. It’s why an early lead is so essential, it can change everything. “We were coming in with a balanced game plan and obviously the score got to where it was, we had to try and do some things to get back into it,’’ Stafford said.

5. Get the ball to Kenny Golladay. The wide receiver had one catch for 12 yards. Last week he had two for 21 yards. “We don’t really go into a week thinking, ‘Throw this guy a ball a bunch of times,’ we just go out there and call plays and I need to make sure I get it to the right guy,’’ Stafford said. Makes sense. However, when you’ve got a talented guy like Golladay maybe find ways to get him more involved. On the bright side, Marvin Jones Jr. had seven catches for 117 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Golden Tate had seven for 50 yards.

UP NEXT: The Lions (3-4) play at the Vikings next Sunday, and then at the Chicago Bears on Nov. 11. Two huge divisional opponents who are tough to play on the road. It will be interesting to see which Lions team shows up.

 

Five reasons the Detroit Lions beat the Dolphins, 32-21, at Miami

Run game, led by Kerryon Johnson, was stellar

That was easy.

The Lions handed the Miami Dolphins their first home loss this season, winning 32-21 on Sunday in steamy Miami Gardens.

Amazing what a successful run game can do for an offense. Coordinator Jim Bob Cooter looked like a genius and quarterback Matthew Stafford had one of his more efficient games.

It was the first road win for the Lions who are now 3-3 and riding a two-game win streak.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

Temps in the high 80s (and higher in the sun on the Lions’ bench) did not seem to be a factor. The Lions could not afford to wilt in the fourth quarter and they didn’t.

Five reasons the Lions won:

1. The run game. The run game. The run game. The Lions rushed for 248 yards, the most since Nov. 13, 1994 when they had 293 yards against Tampa. Barry Sanders had 237 rushing yards that day. On Sunday, rookie Kerryon Johnson finished with 158 yards, including a 71-yard scamper. He averaged 8.3 yards per carry. LeGarrette Blount had 10 carries for 50 yards and a touchdown. Long runs, short runs, they ran it all. The Lions have worked toward establishing a run game and there have been some strong hints it was coming, it arrived in Miami. Prior to the game the Dolphins defense was allowing 118.2 rushing yards per game.

2. Matthew Stafford completed 18 of 22 passes for 217 yards. Stafford was a mess in Week 1 with one touchdown and four interceptions. But since then, he has one interception and 11  touchdowns, including two touchdowns in Miami. He completed passes to eight teammates. He didn’t even connect with Kenny Golladay until the second half. One touchdown pass to Golladay was negated by a holding penalty by Frank Ragnow. Tight end Michael Roberts had three receptions for 48 yards – two of them were for touchdowns.

3. Detroit’s defense which has been improving against the run, had a solid effort again. They held Frank Gore to 29 rushing yards. The 14-year veteran had averaged 48 yards per game this season. Miami’s Kenyan Drake’s 54-yard touchdown scamper was the longest that the Lions allowed. This is a huge step forward for the defense which seems to be adjusting to Matt Patricia’s changes. It was kind of ugly at first. They allowed a combined 259 rushing yards in the first two games, both losses. Detroit outran Miami 248 to 107 yards.

4. Miami backup quarterback Brock Osweiler completed 71 percent of his passes and threw for a pair of touchdowns, but he was sacked four times and often under pressure. Ricky Jean Francois, who was playing in his hometown, had two of those sacks. It wasn’t an awful game for the backup, but Detroit’s defense held him in check after he had passed for 380 yards the previous game. So much for the talk of “Brock-tober.”

5. Matt Prater was perfect three of three on field goals, including a 50-yarder late in the fourth quarter. It was the kicker’s best game this season.

UP NEXT: The Lions play the Seattle Seahawks (3-3) at Ford Field at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 28. The Seahawks will be coming off their bye week.

Five things to know about Detroit Lions rookie DE Da’Shawn Hand

Rookie has started last 3 games

ALLEN PARK — Defensive end Da’Shawn Hand’s effectiveness and time on the field has grown in the first four weeks of the season.

While the Lions are a disappointing 1-3, Hand is one of the positives so far.

The rookie has started the past three games and hit highs in snaps (48) and percentage of snaps for the defense (70 percent) in the loss at Dallas on Sunday.

Along with left guard Frank Ragnow and running back Kerryon Johnson, Hand is one of three rookies who are regular starters.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

Hand and the Lions are moving on from Dallas. They play their first NFC North opponent on Sunday when they host the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers.

“He is an elite player, I think that goes without saying, everybody knows him. They’ve got a great team, it’s going to be interesting,’’ Hand said.

Five things to know about Hand:

1. Hand was a fourth-round pick out of Alabama and so far the Lions like what they see.  “I think what we saw on tape coming out of college is a lot of what we’re seeing right now with the technique. He plays with good fundamentals and pad level,’’ coach Matt Patricia said. “A lot of this system is similar to what he used in college with similar, let’s call it coaching backgrounds from that aspect of it. I think the transition was pretty good for him from that standpoint. And really, it’s just been on him to really go out and improve every single week.’’

2. Hand took full advantage of his increased playing time on Sunday. He picked up his first NFL sack, getting to Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott early in the fourth quarter. Hand also forced a fumble on the Cowboys’ final drive but the ball took a Cowboys’ bounce and Prescott was able to recover it. “I just was working a move, trying to get upfield and I just hit the orner and swiped for the ball, it just took a bad bounce,’’ Hand said.

Had the Lions been able to recover the fumble perhaps they would have had a chance to hold on to and  win the game. That doesn’t weigh on Hand’s mind. “Think I’ve said before in a couple interviews, but that stuff is irrelevant thoughts to me,’’ Hand said. “You think about what-ifs then that’s all you’re relying on. If you think about irrelevant things you’re going to get irrelevant results.’’

3. He credits the leadership among the players for helping keep the right mindset. Veteran defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois has taken a leadership role on the defensive line. “(Leadership) is really strong, older guys they definitely it’s all about turning the page, keep getting better and don’t worry about the irrelevant things,’’ Hand said.

4. Hand didn’t start in Week 1, playing 32 snaps (53 percent) in the loss to the Jets. He got his first start in Week 2 and has started the last three games. In four games he has 14 tackles and one sack.

5. Patricia likes Hand’s steady improvement. “ I think that’s the biggest thing with him in particular is that there’s been a big improvement from the spring, then to training camp, and I would say through the course of maybe the first couple weeks in training camp until we finally got to some preseason games where we could evaluate him against other talent and some other players,’’ Patricia said. “It just has continued to get better for him. I would say he’s got a long way to go. I think in general upfront we didn’t play particularly well enough all the way across the board. So, not real good (Sunday) but I think he’s working himself in the right direction.”

Five thoughts on the Lions embarrassing 48-17 loss to the N.Y. Jets

Even Prater missed a pair of field goals

DETROIT — It wasn’t just a loss. The Lions through the years have dropped many games they were supposed to win.

No, Monday night’s season-opening 48-17 loss to the N.Y. Jets was humiliating, embarrassing and all-around atrocious.

To say it was awful is just too kind.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

The Lions were beat solidly in every phase on Monday night in the friendly confines of Ford Field by rookie Sam Darnold, the youngest quarterback to ever start a game in the NFL.

Five thoughts:

1. Let’s start with the coaching. Did Matt Patricia have this bunch fully prepared? It did not look like it. Patricia’s first start as an NFL head coach was abysmal.

“Look we’re just trying to come out here everyday and get better. It’s a team game but it starts with me and we’ve got to do it better,’’ Patricia said afterwards. “Look we work hard, try to do the right things, we try to coach it the right way, we try to run it the right way, we try to execute the right way we obviously didn’t do a good enough job tonight.” Obviously.

2. Matthew Stafford is a talented quarterback with a big arm. He is not just a gunslinger. His former backup, Dan Orlovsky, said on WJR’s pre-game show that most people don’t understand the level of Stafford’s intelligence. It was the first game of Stafford’s 10th season and he threw four interceptions. Four. His record is five in a game but that was back when he was a rookie. Stafford got dinged twice in the game, but made it through until there was absolutely no need for him to be on the field.

“The story of the game was turnovers, we had too many of them, I had too many of them. I told those guys in there I’ll take (the blame) for this one. I hope I never have to say that again, I don’t want to do it, I’ll push myself as hard as I can to make sure I don’t have to. Felt prepared coming into the game, but didn’t make enough good decisions or good throws,’’ Stafford said.

3.  It is not the first time opponents said they knew what plays the Lions offense was running before the ball was snapped. Dan Wetzel, Yahoo columnist, tweeted that “a number of  Jets defenders said they knew what plays the Lions were going to run based on formation and Stafford hand signals.’’ Could explain why the Jets defense intercepted Stafford four times and Matt Cassel once. This is inexcusable and it can be blamed on coaching. Patricia knows better than this.

4. Defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois said finger-pointing will not help. He emphasized that players and coaches have to examine their roles in the debacle. Francois started with himself.

“We just got beat across the board. Tonight is a game we need to look at, we need to look at each individual self including my damn self. I need to look myself in the mirror and look at this game. I have to put it behind me fast,’’ Francois said. “This is a game we need to learn off of. The bad part about it, we got beat this way. The good part about it is we get to learn from it. We’ve got 16 more weeks to play.’’

5. Bailing out the water from this sinking ship can’t be a drawn-out process. It has to be done before Sunday when the Lions play at the 49ers.

“There’s not a lot to be happy about here. I think in general all of us have to be better, start from the top and work our way down, I don’t think there’s anything you can say other than it’s all execution and coaching it all has to be better from that standpoint,’’ Patricia said.

BONUS 1: Wide receiver Kenny Golladay (7 catches for 114 yards) and rookie running back Kerryon Johnson (5 carries for 17 yards; 3 catches for 20 yards) provided highlights on offense. … Safety Quandre Diggs intercepted Darnold on the first play from scrimmage and ran it back 37 yards for a touchdown. It was a great way to start a game. … Detroit’s defense allowed 169 rushing yards and 349 yards overall. … Matt Prater missed two field goal attempts (55 yards short and wide right from 44 yards). … Ziggy Ansah had a sack early, but couldn’t finish the game due to a shoulder injury. Devon Kennard also sacked Darnold. … Ameer Abdullah and A’Shawn Robinson were inactive.

BONUS 2: Ricky Jean Francois gets the final words: “As long as nobody in this locker room, this organization lost faith, I could care less (what’s said) outside the door. None of them play for us. The only people who play for us are the people in this locker room, who I go to practice every day. As long as they still have confidence, as long as they know we have 16 weeks and as long as they know we’ve got a quick turnaround for this game we have to play (Sunday). That’s all that matters to this Lions organization.’’