Matt Patricia hasn't shown any indication that he feels an obligation to enhance anybody's narrative on a given game or situation. He doesn't add a few quotes to go along with storylines.
That's my take on the image Patricia projects – which I think is authentic, not contrived – after five games as head coach of the Detroit Lions.
That's part of this week's Monday Countdown – Patricia's reaction to Sunday's 31-23 win over the Green Bay Packers, as the Lions head into their bye week after. There's also takeaways on the Lions' offense, defense and a special teams play from Sunday, on Aaron Rodgers and the Lions-Packers rivalry and a look ahead to the return from the bye.
We start with Patricia's reaction to Sunday's win:
1. The long haul: My take on Sunday's win is that it had meaning for the Lions on a lot of levels. Most obvious is what it meant for the present – a bounce back win from last week's last-place loss at Dallas to make the Lions' won-loss record 2-3, a win over a perennial nemesis, and a win over the Packers with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.
Make no mistake, Patricia loves winning. But everything he's said or done since coming to Detroit has emphasized his belief that all the games are big, and that he's building a team to win over a full season.
"There are only 16 games," he said Sunday. "So every win is important. Every one is critical. Obviously, the division games (NFC North) ... they're huge. It's always good to win going into the bye. It usually makes everyone in the building a little bit happier.
"I'm just proud of our guys for competing. They had good mental toughness throughout the course of the game and just hung in there and kept battling until the end."
2. Lions vs. Packers: Maybe the Lions are the Packers' nemesis, not the other way around. The Lions are 6-4 in the last 10 games in the series.
3. Lions vs. Rodgers: The Lions are 3-4 against the Packers in games Aaron Rodgers has started at quarterback. Two of Green Bay's wins were in the final game of the season – in 2014 and 2016 – when the winner of the game won the NFC North.
My take is that Rodgers is the Lions' nemesis, not the Packers anymore. He was playing on one healthy leg Sunday, and his presence is the only reason there was a glimmer of hope that the Packers could rally from a 24-0 deficit.
4. Offense: Three takeaways:
Kerryon Johnson: He has an extra gear – and maybe another one that he's saving for when he needs a boost. He showed that on two plays Sunday.
In the third quarter he turned a short pass into a 12-yard gain by accelerating around right end for a first down. The Lions didn't get any points out of that possession, but it helped keep the chains moving to eat up time.
In the fourth quarter a 24-yard burst around left end gave the Lions first and goal at the eight. That set up the Lions' last TD for a 31-14 lead.
Johnson finished the day with 12 carries for 70 yards, and 5.8 yards per carry.
"The thing about him, he's a very smooth runner," said left tackle Taylor Decker. "I watch him – I know he's running fast. He's so smooth, his cuts and his reads. He's got that natural ability."
Receivers: Matthew Stafford doesn't play favorites. It can be any receiver's turn in a given week.
A week ago against Dallas, it was Golden Tate with eight catches on eight targets and two TDs. Sunday against the Packers it was Kenny Golladay, with four catches on nine targets for 98 yards, one TD and a long catch of 60 yards.
Marvin Jones Jr. had four targets Sunday, with one catch for a TD. He hasn't had a breakout game – yet. He will.
Balance makes this receiver corps so strong.
Stafford: He didn't have one of his better statistical games – 14 of 26 for 183 yards. But he had two TDs, no turnovers, and a couple sacks he took that prevented the possibility of a turnover that would give the Packers field position. That's managing the game situation, as opposed to being a game manager.
5. One more for the offense: I liked the way running back LeGarrette Blount gave the ball to his offensive linemen to spike after his two TDs. Right guard Kenny Wiggins got it first, then rookie left guard Frank Ragnow.
I asked Decker if he thought he was next in line.
"I couldn't have done that," he said. "I would have gotten nervous. I would have locked up. Maybe in a couple weeks."
6. Defense, three takeaways:
Da'Shawn Hand: The rookie defensive lineman is a playmaker. He had a sack and forced fumble Sunday that led to a touchdown. Against Dallas last week he had a sack and forced fumble on the Cowboys' last possession that could have won the game for the Lions. A fortunate bounce let Dak Prescott recover his own fumble and keep alive the drive to a game-winning field goal.
Pickups: The Lions are getting production from players who were picked up late. Defensive end Romeo Okwara, claimed on waivers from the Giants after the last preseason game, had two sacks and a forced fumble Sunday. Linebacker Eli Harold, acquired in a trade with the 49ers before the last preseason game, sacked Tom Brady twice in the win over New England. Okwara and Harold both have three sacks for the season.
Secondary: The Lions started the game short-handed – and sore-handed in safety Quandre Diggs' case. Safety Tavon Wilson was inactive because of an injury, and Diggs played wearing a thick wrap to protect a hand injury. Cornerback Darius Slay went out briefly in the second half with what looked like a leg injury, and backup cornerback Jamal Agnew left the game for good with a knee injury.
"We have to be able to next man up and go and adjust on the go and help those coming in to go and get in the right spots," said cornerback Nevin Lawson, who had a big fourth quarter near the goal line. "It got extreme. One thing about it. It's next man up. This is the NFL."
7. One more for the defense: Tom Brady completed 14 of 26 passes for 133 yards, one TD and an interception in the Lions' win over the Patriots two weeks ago.
Since then he's passed for 341 yards and three TDs in a win over the Colts and 274 yards and three TDs in a win over the Dolphins. He also had two interceptions in both games.
The defense has had its moments, good and bad, in the first three games. What it did to Brady was one of the good ones.
8. Special teams, one takeaway:
Clutch net gain: It's been an unrewarding season in terms of stats in the first five games for Sam Martin, who's recognized as one of league's top punters. His net average – gross punting yards, minus returns – has been at or near the bottom.
On Sunday he punted five times for a gross average of 45.6 yards and a net of 45.2. The Packers had one return for two yards.
Hidden in the stats, but not in the flow of the game, was a clutch punt in the fourth quarter when the Lions were backed up to their 14 and protecting a 31-20 lead with 5:59 left. The Packers were looking to get good field position for a quick strike. They didn't get it.
Martin got off a 53-yard boomer. Coupled with a penalty for an illegal block, the Packers started their possession at their 25 – a 61-yard flip in field position for the Lions.
9. Look ahead: The Lions return from the bye to play a road game against the Dolphins. After starting 3-0, the Dolphins have lost their last two – 27-17 Sunday to the Bengals, and 38-7 the previous week to the Patriots. Both were road games.
My take: The Lions can get to .500 against the Dolphins. I have two weeks to change my mind.