Head coach Matt Patricia and the Detroit Lions enjoyed Sunday’s road victory over the Eagles into Monday afternoon, but then it was on to Detroit’s toughest challenge of the season so far, hosting the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs Sunday at Ford Field.
Let’s take a look at the Key Questions that came out of Patricia’s Monday press conference:
Daniels suffered a foot injury in the first half Sunday and did not return. Patricia said Monday it wasn’t the same foot that kept him out of most of training camp.
“I do not believe it’s the same foot,” Patricia said. “Different deal. I think it’s all different from that aspect. That’s why they’re just trying to evaluate it as they go through.”
Patricia didn’t have an update for Daniels’ timetable for return.
Slay injured a hamstring in the second half and also did not return to the game.
“They’re just kind of visiting with our doctors and running through the normal two-day process here after the game from that standpoint and we’ll see as the week goes on,” Patricia said of Slay and Daniels.
If the Lions don’t have Slay Sunday vs. Kansas City’s potent offense, how much trouble are they in?
The Chiefs are the No. 1 passing team in the NFL (392.3), second in total yards (487.0) and third in points scored (33.7). Not having the services of one of the game’s best cornerbacks against that kind of firepower is less than ideal, but the NFL is a next-man-up league, and it could give someone like cornerback Mike Ford, who filled in for Slay in Philadelphia and played well late in the game, an opportunity to show what he can do.
“He stepped into the middle of the mix and played really well,” Patricia said of Ford. “Justin Coleman was really competitive and made some huge plays at the end of the game on a couple of those drives there. That was pretty big. Rashaan Melvin is just one of the toughest guys we have. He just goes out in those situations and doesn’t panic and there’s nothing besides trying to do his job at a high level.
“(I was) proud of those guys in those situations, but all of those guys are ready to go. We have different ways that we can cover from that standpoint. Whether it’s man (coverages) or zone (coverages) or combinations of both, and we just do the best we can with whoever’s out there based on who we have to defend.”
Is the defensive-minded Patricia looking forward to the test Kansas City’s offense provides?
“Looking forward is probably an interesting statement there,” he joked. “(Chiefs Head coach) Andy Reid is unbelievable. He’s a great coach. (Quarterback Patrick) Mahomes is a special talent and they’ve got a lot of great players, so it’s going to be a long week. They’re just phenomenal. They’re one of the best teams in the League, so it’ll be a huge challenge for us.”
What does Patricia see as the biggest opportunity for improvement through three games?
Two areas he touched on Monday were the offensive and defensive lines, especially when it comes to the run game.
The Lions are 19th in rushing (98.7), but rank just 26th with a 3.4 average per rush.
On defense, opponents are averaging 125.3 yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry on the ground.
“For me, it’s going to go back to fundamentals – and really, it’ll be both sides of the ball,” Patricia said. “Our run defense is going to be the same situation for us and from that standpoint we have to get it better. We know we’re working at it. I have to coach it better. I have to improve the techniques and the pad level overall is just something that we consistently have to keep the point of emphasis on.”
The Lions are 2-0-1 on the season and they haven't played their best football yet, especially upfront on both sides.
How does having four different receivers with a 100-yard, one-touchdown performance in the first three games stress a defense?
“Certainly, for us offensively it’s just been good to see guys step up in those situations,” Patricia said. “I think week-to-week it’s different in the NFL and defenses are different and they’ll try to do different things to take certain players out of the game plan and try to force the ball in a different direction.”
Marvin Jones Jr. was the latest to accomplish it with 101 yards and a score vs. Philadelphia Sunday. Also on that list for Detroit are tight end T.J. Hockenson, slot receiver Danny Amendola and wide receiver Kenny Golladay.
“I thought it was great to see – in particular yesterday Marvin (Jones) step up and make some really nice plays and really just be on the same page as far as what we were trying to get done,” Patricia said. “To be honest with you, he’s had two really good weeks of practice.”
From Zach Ertz to Travis Kelce, how do the Lions go about stopping another talented tight end on Sunday?
Detroit’s defenders did a pretty good job on Ertz last week, holding him to four catches for 64 yards.
Kelce comes into this Sunday’s matchup averaging 97.4 receiving yards per game, the sixth most in the NFL among all pass catchers.
(Travis) Kelce – he’s unbelievable. He is a major problem,” Patricia said. “I think Ertz is a great player and he’s definitely somebody that’s been a staple for their offense and someone that’s a go-to-guy for them.
“We’ll have another huge challenge for us this week with Kelce. He’s a guy that you can put on the back side and whether it’s a linebacker, a safety, a corner – I don’t think they really care who’s over there covering him. They’re going to give him the ball.
“Another big guy, huge catch radius. (He’s) just someone that’s so consistent. We’re going to have another big challenge for us as far as that’s concerned. Definitely just dynamic players in that position.”