LIONS INSIDER

Patricia: It takes all three phases to control a game

Posted Feb 11, 2018

Running the ball, stopping the run and covering kicks are all important when it comes to controlling a game.

Football isn’t rocket science. Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia knows that better than anyone.

There are certain key statistical categories. If a team performs well in those catergories, generally, their record reflects it.

Take running the football for example. Of the 12 teams that qualified for the playoffs in 2017, nine ranked in the Top 10 in rushing, and 11 in the Top 15. Only Pittsburgh (20th) ranked outside the top half of the league.

What about rushing defense? Of the teams ranked in the Top 10, six qualified for the playoffs. The Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles were No. 1 in the league (79.2 yards allowed per game) against the run.

“I will say this about the run game and this is definitely something I believe in,” Patricia told detroitlions.com. “In order to win a football game, you have to control the game and that’s three phases. It’s not one phase and one aspect of it. It’s three phases.

“I do know that offensively, special teams-wise and defensively, the run game is a huge part of that. Covering kicks is a huge part of that.

“If you want to control the game, offensively, you better be able to run the ball. Defensively, you better be able to stop the run, and special teams-wise you better be able to cover kicks.”

When it comes to the immediate improvements Patricia hopes to make in Detroit, look to those three things as being a pretty good starting point.

“That’s where you have to start,” Patricia said.

“If you can’t do that consistently – now you may not be able to do it all the time, you may look at a defense one week as an offensive coordinator and say, ‘Look, we can’t run the ball this week. We have to spread them out and get the ball out fast. We have to design a passing game to take advantage of what they do because we’re just going to be pounding our head into a wall here.’ – but, for the most part, you’re going to say, ‘hey, how are we establishing our offense?”

Where is the starting point for Patricia in those three key areas with the Lions?  

The issues with the Lions' rushing offense last season – and really for the last four seasons – has been well documented. Detroit was last rushing the football at 76.3 yards per game last season.

Defensively against the run, the Lions finished 18th (112.5 per game). Opponents rushed for at least 100 yards in seven of the last eight contests.

In terms of covering kicks, Patricia steps into a pretty good situation with the Lions. The Lions finished second in the NFL with the opponent average starting field position after kickoffs being the 23.1-yard line. Opponents averaged 7.6 yards per punt return, which ranked 17th.

Patricia admitted he has a lot of work to do, and is looking forward to diving into the initial roster analysis part of the job.