Head coach Matt Patricia wrapped up the Detroit Lions 2018 season Monday with his end of the year press conference.
He made it clear that everyone involved was disappointed with how the year finished at 6-10, and both he and the franchise will continue to have high expectations moving forward.
The Lions are trying to build a championship caliber team, and though the record doesn't show it, Patricia thought he laid a good foundation in his first season to move forward on, though he admitted there's plenty more work to do.
What where the areas Patricia thought were good for Detroit in 2018?
"I think that we found out we can run the ball consistently through the course of the season," he said. "I know that was a question last spring.
"I'd say that we showed we can improve our run defense. We were able to stop the run as the season went on."
Patricia also said he thought his team showed that his defense understands the marriage of rush and coverage, and how that affects the passing game.
Special teams improvements and the importance of playing a field position game were also mentioned.
He thought his team showed some versatility winning in 100-plus-degree temps in Miami, winning on a shoddy field in Arizona and beating Green Bay in cold and windy conditions Week 17.
What are the areas Patricia thinks need to improve heading into 2019?
Patricia said Detroit's turnover differential is a key one for him. The Lions had a minus-five differential, which ranked 23rd in the NFL this season.
"You can't turn the ball over and we've got to force more turnovers on defense," he said.
Eliminating penalties, stringing good weeks together with better consistency and finding a way to win close games – he pointed to three losses by a combined six points— were other things he thought his team needs to do better.
What has Patricia learned as a first-year coach?
He's going to take a hard look at every aspect of this team over the next month, but he made sure to include himself in that evaluation as well.
Patricia always likes to ask questions, and I thought an interesting answer to this question was the fact that he wants to talk to some of the other first-year head coaches around the league this year as part of that process.
"Some of them that I'm extremely close with," he said. "And the different comparisons to things we've had to go through and see if there's any other suggestions or idea or thoughts with that too."
When will he make any decisions about his coaching staff moving forward?
"It's only fair at this point of the season for all aspects of the team, players, coaches, personnel, all of it, to allow the emotion of the season to come down and just have that opportunity to clear your head and then go back through and analyze everything and see what is best for the team moving forward in all aspects," he said.
Patricia said he's going to enjoy New Year's with his family, and then begin the grind of making some of those decisions.
How much does the passing game need to improve for this team to improve overall moving forward?
"I think there's games where we were able to execute well in the passing game, and obviously games where we didn't," Patricia said. "That's why we are where we are right now. We'll evaluate all of it, not only scheme but players and the process."
The Lions finished the year ranked 20th in passing and 25th in scoring. Patricia also reiterated that Matthew Stafford is his quarterback, and he's excited for that to be the case.