Detroit Lions mailbag: Here’s what happens if Matt Patricia starts 0-4

Detroit Free Press

Dave Birkett
 
| Detroit Free Press

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I sent out calls for mailbag questions Thursday morning, and, boy, are there a lot of people wondering about Matt Patricia’s future as Detroit Lions coach.

I don’t have a crystal ball to know how that will play out, but one thing that seems likely to happen is that the Lions will change broadcast partners next year.

The team moved its flagship station to WJR-AM (760) starting in the 2016 season, but the scuttlebutt right now is that they’ll be headed back to WXYT-FM (97.1) next year. The team has had a rocky relationship with the station at times based on the strong opinions of its hosts. Hopefully, management resists pushback from the team if it gets broadcast rights and continues to encourage its hosts to speak their minds.

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Now onto your questions.

If the lions are 0 & 4 at the bye week does Sheila Ford Hamp step up to the plate and fire Quintricia? – @CpkGeo

This seems to be the question on most everyone’s mind, and frankly I don’t know. On the one hand, the bye week is as good a time as any to make a change if you’re going to make one in-season. And if you’ve already decided Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn won’t be back in 2021, there’s no reason to wait.

On the other hand, I don’t think firing anyone four weeks into a season serves much purpose — other than giving fans the bloodletting a lot of you want. You still have to wait until after the season to hire a replacement (unless you go the Urban Meyer route) and there’s a chance you could be lulled into keeping the interim, which probably wouldn’t be in the best interest of the franchise.

If the Lions perform this Sunday against Arizona and next week against New Orleans like they have the last two games, a change has to be on the table. But if they show some life and pull out at least one win, we’ll revisit this topic again in a few months.

FOR SUBSCRIBERS: Matt Patricia’s woeful Lions tenure laid bare in 117 seconds at Green Bay

When does the season end? Tell me soon, please. – @TimD56

Some would argue it’s already over. I’d suggest you give it a few more weeks. They’re probably not digging out of an 0-3 hole to make the playoffs, (or 0-2 for that matter) but the October schedule looks very manageable.

When Patricia gets fired will he accept a peaceful transition of power? Just kidding we shouldn’t joke about democracy dying right in front of us – @RutherfrdBrave

Good one. Now if you’re reading this, make sure you vote.

If Lions finish the season with top 5 pick. Is it safe to say Patricia gets Fired but Quinn stays? – @azcwilliams

A top-five pick means the Lions lose 12 or 13 games minimum. I think the Lions are more talented than their record, but if that happens, I have to imagine Hamp will clean house.

Why am I Lions fan? No, seriously, why is the defense super awful? @jabroniak

A. Blame your parents (presumably), not me, for your Lions fandom. It comes with being from Detroit. As for the defense, I think a lot of the problem lies in the scheme, and the fact that the Lions have put more value in getting versatile players over really good ones the last few years. When you can’t rush the passer, don’t do a good job stopping the run and rarely create turnovers, it’s a recipe for a bottom-10 defense.

If Matt Patricia was building rockets instead of coaching and each one of his rockets exploded leaving the launch pad, would he say the flaw was in the design or that the rockets weren’t executing the plan to fly? – @AwkwardBenny

I see what you did there, and I don’t totally disagree. The design of this scheme is to win by stopping the run and through coverage, and that hasn’t happened much the last two-plus seasons. For better or worse, that’s Patricia’s scheme, and it won’t be changing.

On the off chance Patricia turns it around this season and comes back next year, would you be more excited to see how this year’s rookies can fare after getting to go through a full offseason in the scheme? Gotta imagine Okudah & Okwara are more effective then. – @RapDaddyRed

It’s been a tough transition for rookies across the board in the NFL this year due to the pandemic, and the Lions’ class is no exception. I shared thoughts on all nine draft picks and what to expect in a piece that ran in our paper Thursday, and I think it goes without question rookies will be better positioned to make an impact in 2021.

I am firmly in the camp that Okudah will be a fine NFL player in time, but for him and the rest of the class, the type of player they develop into depends plenty on what’s around them. As Rap Daddy alluded to, they were drafted with this scheme in mind. Changing coaches does not doom them to irrelevance, but they’d be best positioned for success if this regime stays.

Has anyone had a worse draft class 2 weeks in? Unfair question, sure. But we all are curious. – @jeffrdillon

Let’s stay with the rookie class here for a moment, I think we all can agree it’s not fair to judge rookies two weeks into their season. But for comparison sake, I looked at the teams picking top 10 in the draft to see what contributions they’ve gotten from their rookies.

The Bengals and Washington had the first two picks, and early returns are positive on their draft hauls. Joe Burrow has played well as the Bengals’ starting quarterback, and No. 2 pick Chase Young played a big hand in Washington’s Week 1 victory. I imagine the Chargers are pretty pleased with their draft class as well after Justin Herbert held his own in an emergency start at quarterback last week and considering first-round linebacker Kenneth Murray already has 18 tackles. The Dolphins got two starters in Round 1, though Tua Tagovailoa has yet to sniff the field.

I think the rest of the top 10 is in a similar spot as the Lions, with rookies playing a variety of roles — some big, some not — and delivering choppy returns. The Giants took a starting left tackle in at No. 4, but lost their second-round pick to injury and have their third-round lineman riding the bench. The defensive players most associated with the Lions after Okudah, Derrick Brown and Isaiah Simmons, have had similarly rough starts. 

Bottom line: It’s way too early to jump to conclusions on rookies.

Why is Harris getting more snaps than Walker on Defense? – @Silver_Rush67

The Lions have yet to provide a good answer for that, though it’s pretty clear to me that Walker is the best defensive back on this team. For what it’s worth, my expectation is that Walker takes over as starter as soon as this week, but the Lions continue to play all three of their safeties plenty.

Can u rank these sunday activities in order of enjoyment, from highest to lowest? 1. park picnic 2. reading a book 3. running errands 4. getting around to those home repairs 5. watching the lions 6. watching redzone 7. going to the dentist 8. getting yelled at by a stranger – @stannahmontana

I’m guessing this is coming from someone considering their options for future Sundays, and if that’s the case, you can keep the game on in the background while you run errands or have a picnic, though depending on your fantasy GM skills, you may get more pleasure from watching RedZone. As for me, watching the Lions is work, so I don’t know that I’d consider it enjoyment. It’s still better than going to the dentist, but nothing beats avoiding home repairs.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. 

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