The bye week gave the Detroit Lions a chance to rest their bodies and their minds, get away for a bit, reconnect with family, and take a collective breath from the 1-3 start to their season.
The bye is also a time for reflection and self-evaluation, and there was plenty of that going on in Allen Park over the last week. Detroit was back at work Monday getting ready for the start of the second quarter of their season, beginning with a matchup Sunday in Jacksonville against the 1-4 Jaguars.
Lions head coach Matt Patricia spoke to the media Monday, and here are the key questions from that media session coming out of the bye week:
How do the Lions play better complementary defense?
Defensive end Trey Flowers spoke to the media ahead of the bye week and was asked about the pass rush, or lack thereof, through the first four weeks, and he made a good point. Flowers said the Lions' defense has been so bad against the run the first quarter of the season, that they haven't had enough chances to pin their ears back and rush the passer.
That's something Patricia agreed with Monday.
"In situations against us, teams have been able to run the ball with a lot of success, which has obviously decreased the amount of passes they're having to throw in those situations and limiting our game plan pass-rush stuff we can do," Patricia said.
The Lions are allowing 170.3 rushing yards per game. It's safe to say that reducing that number significantly has been a major focus for the defensive coaches this week.
How do the Lions go about stopping Jaguars impressive rookie running back James Robinson?
The undrafted rookie has been impressive so far with 333 yards on just 73 rushes (4.6 average) with three touchdowns. He's also caught 19 passes for another 183 yards. He's been a nice weapon in Jacksonville's backfield early on this season.
"Thoroughly impressed with everything this guy has done," Patricia said.
Robinson runs with great pad level, and does a good job getting downhill. He can hurt the Lions Sunday if they don't find a way to be better at tackling and meeting at the football, which has been a problem in the run game all year.
How fine is the line between dwelling on mistakes from the first four games and trying to move on to the second quarter of the season?
Last week was about reviewing the mistakes and fixing the past. Monday started the look forward and the focus on Jacksonville and Week 6.
"One of the things that's going to happen or come up over and over again going forward until we stop them is that you have to go over and explain and teach at a high level to prepare so they have an opportunity to understand when it does come up again how we need to handle it," Patricia said.
The NFL is a copy cat league. Patricia's defense can certainly expect to see some of the plays they've struggled to contain from opponents in these next few games, even if those plays aren't part of the scheme for the upcoming opponents. They'll put them in to see if the Lions can stop them.
Did Detroit make the proper corrections? That's what practice is for, according to Patricia. They work on moving forward to the next opponent, but also sprinkling in those problem plays throughout practice and meetings.
Detroit's next two opponents are 1-9, are they looking at this as a good opportunity to get back to .500?
Patricia said the focus for his team is on Jacksonville and nothing more. Sure, the schedule gets easier the next month and a half or so, but Patricia was quick to remind the media that this is a 1-3 football team, so they're in no position to take any opponent lightly.
"Look, we only have one win," Patricia said. "We have to go out and play well."
What will it be like to play in front of fans Sunday?
The Jaguars are playing in front of about 16,000 fans right now, and it will be the first opportunity for the Lions to play in front of a crowd that big this year. Even though it will be a hostile bunch, Patricia is looking forward to playing in front of fans again.
"I think everyone is excited to have some fans out there," Patricia said. "I think it'll be great. You can definitely feel a little bit different atmosphere when they changes the noise decibel in the stadium ... it'll be cool just to have fans out at the game."