Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia spoke to the media Monday after his team dropped a 30-16 loss to the Los Angeles Rams Sunday afternoon at Ford Field.
Patricia and the team were back on the grind Monday with a road game in Arizona next on the schedule.
Here’s a look at the key questions from Patricia’s press conference Monday:
Part of the process on Monday is taking a look back at the film and then going through some self-evaluations with the players in meetings.
After looking at the tape of the defensive performance, what did Patricia think?
The final score doesn’t really indicate how well the Lions played on defense. The Lions have actually been playing some pretty good defense lately, and that has to be a good sign for Patricia and Co. moving forward.
“I think that there are some things in there defensively from a technique standpoint that I’ve seen, maybe over the last couple weeks or maybe the last four weeks, that have definitely improved, especially in some of our fundamentals up front, playing with our hands, playing with good pad level,” Patricia said.
“Doing certain things to get off blocks, things like that defensively that I think are showing up. Maybe just an overall better understanding of some of the things that we’re doing from a scheme standpoint as we build through the course of the year… being able to adapt week-in and week-out to do whatever we need to do that week to win. So, those are some positives there.”
What about the performance of rookie guard Frank Ragnow, who had the unenviable task of blocking likely defensive MVP Aaron Donald all afternoon?
Ragnow allowed three pressures, two quarterback hits and a sack. He was Detroit’s worst-graded performer on offense in the game by Pro Football Focus.
“I think every day that anybody plays against Aaron Donald, I don’t think anybody’s walking out of that the next day right now going, ‘Yeah, I really got the better of that situation,’” Patricia said.
Ragnow isn’t alone. Donald has gotten the better of plenty of guards this season, including Kelechi Osemele (Raiders), Dan Feeney (Chargers), Lane Taylor (Packers) and others. It’s a week the rookie can really learn from.
“When you play great players, you certainly have to really analyze the things that you did,” Patricia said. “And you know that there’s just such a fine line between technique and being in good position and leverage. You can learn from those players. I learned from those players as a coach. I’ve been around a lot of great players and you can pick up a lot of things that they do or how they see the game.”
What about the play of quarterback Matthew Stafford?
Stafford, who was sacked four times and hit 11 times total, is without a number of his top weapons on offense, and that’s shown the last few games. Detroit’s had to kind of grind some games out on offense, and it hasn’t looked pretty in the process. As a result, Stafford's numbers are down considerably.
Patricia was asked about Stafford’s decision making, and his four turnovers in the last two fourth quarters.
“There are certainly a lot of plays in there that can’t be lost,” Patricia said. “Those ones where he’s standing in there real tough and he has two of the best defensive tackles in the entire league bearing down on him, coming to knock the hell out of him, and he stands in there and throws a perfect strike. So, those aren’t easy to do either and those can’t be lost in those situations.
“He’s someone that has done that for us every single week and gets up and keeps leading the offense into those situations to go out and compete. Let’s not lose the fact that I don’t think anyone’s out there trying not to win. I think everybody’s out there really trying to work really hard to go help this team win, and he’s certainly at the top of that category.”
What about the 3rd and 19 draw play?
One of the loudest boos from the Ford Field faithful came in the third quarter when the Lions faced a 3rd and goal from the 19-yard line, and decided to play it safe and take the field goal by running a draw.
Patricia explained Monday why that was the right call.
“We were trying to get the points there,” Patricia said. “The score was tight, but third and 19 is hard. It’s a really hard play-call, it’s hard to kind of put yourself in a situation right there where you’re going to drop back and try to throw the ball 20 yards downfield into scoring position and not put yourself at risk or put yourself in danger.
“So, I think for those calls, we’re trying to make the best calls in those situations to help us. And points were critical for us. Again, trying to get a little bit closer, a little bit better position to kick, and just put ourselves in a situation where now we knew what this game kind of was from that point.”
The field goal trimmed the Rams' lead to 13-6 at the time.
How are Patricia and the Lions approaching the final month of the season?
The short answer is the same way they’ve approach the first 12 games.
“I think for me, it’s been pretty much the same all the way through,” he said. “I’m always trying to see where we’re at. I’m just trying to make sure that we build from where we’re at and I think it’s going to be the same thing going forward. We’re trying to get better next week than we were yesterday.”
The Lions need to play better and win some games and that’s the bottom line, Patricia said.