Detroit Lions coaches were back in Allen Park Monday trying to make the right fixes after a poor outing Sunday in Minnesota dropped their season record to 3-5 after a 34-20 loss at the hands of the Vikings.
Head coach Matt Patricia spoke to the media Monday as he and his staff move on to Washington, who comes to Ford Field this Sunday.
Here are the key questions from that session:
Are there any injury updates from Sunday?
Just one that will immediately affect the roster. The knee injury suffered by cornerback and special teams ace Tony McRae is a season ender. The Lions are placing him on IR.
Taking his spot on the 53-man roster is linebacker Jarrad Davis, who the team is activating off the COVID-19 reserve list.
Where has Patricia seen improvement from the first quarter of the season through the second quarter?
NFL coaches split the season up into quarters, and the Lions just finished their second quarter 2-2 after a 1-3 start the first quarter. The third quarter needs to be even better if the Lions are going to put themselves in a position to play meaningful games in December.
Patricia pointed to a few areas he thought were better in the second quarter.
On special teams, he pointed to the kickoff coverage being better. Patricia liked the punt rush the last couple weeks. He also liked that punter Jack Fox stayed consistent through both quarters.
Offensively, he liked where the run game was Sunday (129 yards with 4.8 average), and thought they were able to move the line of scrimmage a bit. He hope that trends into the third quarter. Detroit's also been better on third down in the second quarter.
Defensively, they were able to get some of the run stuff settled down, though that took a major step back Sunday with the Vikings running for 275 yards. The previous three weeks had been better. He said the red area is an area defensively they need to improve "a lot."
Why have wins been hard to come by consistently over the last two and a half years?
Scheme? Coaching? Talent? A combination of factors?
Patricia said they focus on each year individually, and right now they're focused on where the team is at currently, correcting mistakes and staying in the moment.
"We just got done with the first half of our football season of 2020, it's been an interesting one by all means, we know the second half is critical for us," Patricia said. "So from that standpoint, we're going to take a good look at what we did for the first eight games and we need to improve on the second eight as we go forward and that's what we'll do.
"We have a lot of coaching to do today and to clean up some of the stuff from yesterday to make sure that we get that fixed and go forward and get ready for Washington."
How disappointed is Patricia in the run defense?
Through the first half of the season the Lions rank 29th against the run. They've allowed the most rushing touchdowns (13) and are 27th in yards per carry allowed (4.8).
Minnesota gashed them for 275 yards Sunday, the second time this season Detroit's allowed an opponent to gain at least 250 yards on the ground.
"There's certainly things we got to fix to get that better," Patricia said. "We had one real big explosive play (Dalvin Cook's 70-yard second-half TD run) that flipped things in a really bad direction from that standpoint.
"We know we can coach it better and we can play it better and that's what we have to try and do this week."
What's the level of concern with kicker Matt Prater?
Prater has never missed more than five field goals in any of his previous six seasons in Detroit, but he has missed six in 2020 through eight games.
"I have the highest amount of confidence in Matt Prater," Patricia said. "He is one of the mentally toughest guys I know. Physically tough, he works extremely hard. He's a true perfectionist."
Patricia said there's really no level of concern from his standpoint.
What does Patricia want the calling card of this team to be?
Patricia commented Monday about the Vikings and their ability to run the football, and how that been their calling card this year. He was then asked what he'd like Detroit's calling card to be.
"I think something we always try to push for with our team in general is being able to do a good job in those phases of playing the run game, both offensively and defensively and doing a good job on special teams of making sure that we cover kicks really well," Patricia said.
"We've had some inconsistencies there. Some days it's been consistent and some days it's not. But those are things we look at that we really value."