Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia spoke to the media Monday following their third straight loss Sunday, 35-27, at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys. It was Detroit’s sixth loss in their last seven games after starting 2-0-1 on the year.
Here are the key questions to come from that press conference:
What is the No. 1 issue Patricia thinks is plaguing this team right now?
“I think that’s the biggest thing right now for us, and probably penalties would be the number one issue for us,” he said. “We spent a lot of time on that here right now.”
The Lions were penalized 11 times for 89 yards Sunday against Dallas, some of those coming at critical moments. It was the same story in last week’s loss to Chicago -- Penalties wiping out big plays or knocking them out of scoring opportunities. Detroit’s 81 penalties in 10 games are the sixth most in the NFL.
“I’d say the top category for all three phases right now is holding, so whether it’s offensive, defensive holding or offensive holding in the return game,” Patricia said. “I think there are some things in there with our hand placement, our footwork, our technique that we really have to coach a lot better right now, and make sure that we don’t get undisciplined with that stuff.”
Is there any update on the health status of quarterback Matthew Stafford?
Patricia said Stafford remains “week-to-week” with the back injury he suffered in Oakland. Stafford missed his second consecutive start Sunday.
Why hasn’t the defense been able to consistently rush the passer?
Detroit’s had one or no sacks in six of their 10 contests this season. They entered Sunday’s game ranked 28th in the NFL in sacks with just 20 on the season.
“The previous week I think we had five sacks, I think that was pretty good,” Patricia said of Detroit getting to Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky five times the week prior. “I would say this week we didn’t have enough pressure on the quarterback (one sack). I certainly think there were some things in there that we did early in the game that caused him some discomfort that he didn’t like, which was really good, and I don’t think we were able to sustain that enough throughout the course of the game.
“Sometimes I think we get into situations where we start to press it too much and maybe get out of a rush lane and maybe go a little bit past the quarterback, especially with a guy like Dak (Prescott) that you know you can’t do that against. Just trying to be a little bit more disciplined through the course of the game, probably would have helped us a little bit better.”
Are there any positives Patricia sees on the defensive side of the ball he thinks they can build on?
For a second week in a row, and for a third time in their last four games, the Lions held an opponent under 100 rushing yards.
Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott had just 45 yards in 16 carries Sunday. Detroit’s defense held Chicago’s David Montgomery to 60 yards last week. Giants running back Saquon Barkley was held to 64 yards Week 8. Oakland’s Josh Jacobs also hit them for 120 yards and two scores in that span.
“Hopefully that is encouraging for us going forward from that standpoint,” Patricia said. “Certainly, I think one of the things that when you look at the game that was able to kind of keep some things in perspective was our ability to maybe maintain that run game and not just let them grind the clock out in the fourth quarter entirely.
“Certainly, the big plays in the passing game were killing us from that standpoint, but I would say (we had) a couple of good plays there in the run and hopefully we can keep building on some of that.”
It should be noted that Detroit’s allowed opposing passers a rating of at least 110.0 and three touchdown passes in each of their last five games. Teams haven’t had to run the football when they’re having so much success throwing it.
Has Patricia taken on a bigger role in defensive play calling?
“My role, really, on game day it differs game by game,” he said. “So, some games it’s been more, some games it’s been less, and that’s been consistent throughout the season. That’s true.”
With all the negativity surrounding the team, who does Patricia lean on?
When the losses start to build and the season starts to spin out of control in mid-November, there’s inevitably going to be a lot of negativity from the media and fan base surrounding the performance of the team. That’s just the reality of the NFL.
“I think for us here, in regard to the team, we just lean on the each other, and we all understand that we have a tight knit group in there that really cares about each other,” Patricia said. “We understand there’s going to be some negativity, and there’s going to be people that are going to say stuff.
“Probably, all of us have gone through that our entire lives. It’s probably why we’re all here. It’s because we’re able to overcome that stuff and consistently fight and consistently get back to what we have in mind as our goals. For us, we lean on each other, we draw strength from each other as a team. I see the guys doing that right now, and that will help us going forward. So, that’s kind of where we start.”