The questions are coming more often about Matt Patricia's job security as head coach of the Detroit Lions, and he didn't duck one after Sunday's 20-7 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
Patricia knows the landscape of the NFL from the peaks to the valleys, and the reality of his job.
Patricia's perspective on that, and on his team, is the lead on this week's Monday Countdown. There's also a look at where the Lions are getting hurt the most – competing in their division – and a comment from cornerback Darius Slay.
There are takeaways on offense, defense and special teams, what's trending for the Lions, and the bottom line.
We start with Patricia:
1. Knowing the territory: Patricia learned more than how to coach defense in the 14 years he spent as an assistant with the New England Patriots before being hired by the Lions. He isn't blind to his won-loss record with the Lions.
The Lions were 6-10 in his first year, and they're 3-9-1 after 13 games this year. That adds up to 9-19-1.
He is aware of the bottom line. That was apparent in his answer to a pointed question about his status after Sunday's game.
"I'm in the NFL," Patricia said evenly. "I've been in the NFL a long time.
"I know what the NFL is about."
It's about winning.
2. Self-image: I don't think anyone can doubt the effort Patricia's players give him week in and week out. The results are another matter. Frankly, they were overmatched against the Vikings, with a veteran quarterback in Kirk Cousins running the offense.
At one point in the first half the Vikings had a 10-0 lead with and a 187-21 advantage in yards gained, 15-2 in first downs and 33-16 in plays run – even though the Lions had the ball first.
The Lions never caved in. They just weren't good enough to do anything more than get close to make it a game.
"We don't look at our record and say, 'That's who we are,'" Patricia said. "We look at our record and say, 'That's not who we are.'"
3. Big play, against Slay: Darius Slay is the Lions' best cornerback, but Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs beat him for a 44-yard catch down the right sideline to the Lions' three-yard line with 31 seconds left in the first half. Two plays later running back Dalvin Cook scored on a three-yard run to boost the Vikings' lead to 17-0.
Slay acknowledged getting beat at a bad time and added that the defense has to start faster.
The Lions gave up 18 first downs in the first half and only four in the second.
"We've got to play that well all the time," Slay said. "We've got to make more plays on defense. We've got to ball like that from the start."
4. In the North: The Lions have gotten hurt where it hurts most – in games against NFC North teams. They've lost nine of their last 10 games to North teams and are 0-5 in the division this year, with one game left – at home against the Packers in the season finale.
Division games count two, which means they've done double the damage to the Lions.
5. Takeaways, offense:
- Wide receiver Kenny Golladay's TD catch late in the fourth quarter broke a streak of six quarters without a touchdown. The Lions scored two TDs in the first quarter against the Bears on catches by Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. They didn't reach the end zone again until Golladay's catch Sunday.
- One man's opinion: Rookie quarterback Blough was at fault for taking that big sack on third down near the end of the second quarter, but I would have had running back Bo Scarbrough lined up behind Blough on that third and two play. A run threat might have slowed the pass rush.
- The offense is operating without franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford, starting running back Kerryon Johnson, and starting tight end T.J. Hockenson. That's a lot to overcome.
6. Takeaways, defense
- The Vikings were held to a field goal in the second half. They were held without a first down on three of their seven possessions, not counting the kneel down on the final play.
- Defensive end Trey Flowers had the Lions' only sack. He also had the only sack against the Bears on Thanksgiving Day. He has six sacks in his last seven games.
- The Vikings rushed for 120 yards, breaking the Lions streak of four straight games without allowing 100 yards on the ground. It took the Vikings 39 carries to get 120 yards.
7. Takeaway, special teams
- Just one. Matt Prater missed on a 45-yard field goal attempt. It was his second miss in three games. He also missed from 39 yards two weeks ago against Washington. He's six for seven (85.7 percent) from 50 yards or longer, and 16 for 20 (80 percent) from 49 yards or closer. Next time the ball's at the 46, take a five-yard delay of game?
View photos from the Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings Week 14 game at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019 in Minneapolis.
- Up: Tracy Walker (12), Jahlani Tavai (11) and Tavon Wilson (11) combined for 35 tackles. That's good work by two safeties and a linebacker.
- Down: First-half defense – 17 points, 18 first downs, 252 yards allowed.
- Holding: Golladay. Holding means good. Golladay's TD catch was his 10th of the season. From start to finish, he produces regardless of circumstances.
9. Bottom line: Quarterback Jameis Winston threw for 455 yards, four TDs and three interceptions in the Bucs' 38-35 win over the Colts Sunday.
Said Mike Tirico on NBC Sunday night: "We had the full Jameis experience – picks and scores."
The Lions play the Bucs Sunday at Ford Field.
Take your pick – picks or scores?