The Detroit Lions finished the preseason 0-4 after Thursday night’s loss to Cleveland. After the game, Lions head coach Matt Patricia said the winless record in the preseason doesn’t change the way he feels about his football team headed into the regular season.
“I thought if you look at the big body of work of what we did and some of the competitive practices that we had vs. two very good teams (New England & Houston) back to back,” Patricia said. “One at our place and one in the heat down in Texas, I think our team showed a lot of character.”
Quarterback Matthew Stafford played less than a half of football throughout the preseason, and most of the starters had probably less than a game total of action. The 0-4 record, if anything, speaks to some of the issues the Lions might have with their depth.
View photos from the Detroit Lions at Cleveland Browns Preseason Week 4 game at FirstEnergy Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019 in Cleveland.
It is always good to keep the preseason in perspective. In 2008, the Lions were 4-0 in the preseason. They finished that season 0-16.
It’s still better to win than lose, no matter the situation. Patricia said they’ll look at the film and make evaluations and adjustments, but his team is confident heading to Arizona next week for the regular season opener, despite the preseason record.
“I think for us the confidence level we build is through the course of practice, and like I said, the competition we had against the two teams we practiced against, that’s always good,” Patricia said. “I honestly think confidence, as far as an NFL team, you probably aren’t making it to this level if you don’t have some sort of confidence in general.”
Rookie tight end Isaac Nauta limped off in the fourth quarter with what appeared to be a foot injury, but he returned to catch two more passes, giving him three for the game for 45 yards.
Nauta's 20-yard touchdown catch on a pass from Josh Johnson closed out the scoring with 1:51 left.
"I just ran a corner route, and got in inside the pylon," Nauta said. "Josh made a great throw. Josh and I saw it the same way."
JOHNSON SHOWS OFF ATHLETICISM
Veteran quarterback Josh Johnson scored on a 1-yard touchdown run on a zone read play in the third quarter. He had a few other nice runs in the game, totaling 17 yards on the ground.
“I would say with him in particular, for his athleticism and skill set, I think he did a really good job with that,” Patricia said of Johnson’s ability to run some of the run-pass options the Lions featured offensively against Cleveland.
Patricia said it showed off the versatility of Darrell Bevell’s offense to have some of those options in the playbook to fit Johnson’s skill set.
Johnson and Tom Savage are battling for the backup job behind Matthew Stafford.
- Cornerback Teez Tabor and linebacker Steve Longa, both coming off injuries, didn’t play Thursday night because they didn't get in enough practice time prior to the game, per Patricia.