GREEN BAY, Wisc. — It fell apart like it always does. Nearly every week. Almost every fall.
This time the Detroit Lions had the decency to implode in the first half, politely freeing up the rest of the Sunday afternoon for their heartsick devotees. It was the least they could do after teasing those who love them so mercilessly to start the game.
Go ahead, admit it.
Admit you were intrigued when the Lions jumped to a 14-3 lead over the Packers at Lambeau Field on Sunday afternoon. Admit that they looked surprising the first couple of series, as if they’d gotten to Wisconsin with a plan.
I’m sure they did.
But in football, the script to begin a game only gets you so far. At some point you must think on the fly, execute in the moment … make a play.
Or at least take the right angle in pursuit, which Will Harris didn’t do on the first play of the second half, when he misread a Packers handoff to Aaron Jones, took a step toward the sideline as if he thought the play were a pass, then circled back toward the middle when he spotted Jones bursting up the middle.
Misread. Bad deed. Done.
It’s the story of this franchise. It’s especially the story of the Matt Patricia regime, who got to Detroit with a defensive reputation but hasn’t come close to showing why here. The Packers hung 42 points on the Lions, though six of them came courtesy of a Matthew Stafford interception.
[ Comedy of errors doom Lions in 42-21 blowout loss to Packers ]
Still, the defense was ill-fitting, overwhelmed and undisciplined.
In the sequence that flipped the game, when Green Bay took the lead for the first time, the Lions committed two personal foul penalties and a holding penalty, helping the Packers to half of their yards on a drive that took less than 50 seconds.
It was hard to watch. Because it is familiar to watch. And it is painful to watch.
If nothing else, the season is essentially over. Forget that some teams get to the playoffs after 0-2 starts. That’s just silly math, and fodder to foolish columnists to spread false hope.
This team isn’t going anywhere.
Except to Arizona next week.
Until then, expect the same answers as to what happened on another dismal Sunday afternoon in the fall. Expect the head coach to say he has to coach better, to say his team has to execute better, to take responsibility for an embarrassing performance.
Just don’t expect him to be able to do much about it.
For a coach who built his name on defense, he continues to oversee one that can’t do the little things right. Forget, for a moment, that Patricia’s scheme doesn’t call for much pressure on the quarterback. Forget, too, if you can, that even when he does dial up pressure his roster can’t do much to make that happen.
If you play like that, then you better be in the right gaps, filling the right lanes, taking the right angles, reading the offense at the line of scrimmage.
Lost in the loss to the Bears a week ago were similar issues up front. Chicago exposed the Lions at the line of scrimmage.
Green Bay flat out exploited them. That falls on Patricia. His front seven is a mess. Unable to generate pressure. Unable to make the fundamental plays.
It’s a combo that leads to blown 20-point leads and allowing 40-plus points, as the Lions have done in the first two weeks.
So focus on the middling offense if you want — that should get a little better. Focus on Matthew Stafford taking another critical sack instead of throwing the ball away. Focus on him throwing a pick-six — though the game was over at that point. And you’re right, the offense is a long way from good, too.
Still, it’s the defense and the mental mistakes that remain so jarring. And remain at the feet of Patricia.
He’s had two-plus years now to put his imprint on this franchise on that side of the ball. If he doesn’t figure it out in a hurry, he won’t have much longer to fix it.
Contact Shawn Windsor: 313-222-6487 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @shawnwindsor.