| Detroit Free Press
Are Detroit Lions as bad off as we thought? Breaking down Cards win
Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez break down what we learned about the Detroit Lions after their win over the Cardinals on Sept. 27, 2020.
Matt Patricia loves roller coasters. But he has a rule about them. He doesn’t ride them during the NFL season.
Some fans and media — and even a high-profile Hall-of-Famer like Terry Bradshaw — were calling for the Detroit Lions to fire their head coach after an 0-2 start. But Patricia was too busy getting his team ready to beat the Arizona Cardinals, 26-23 on Sunday, to ride an emotional roller coaster.
No zenith of euphoria. No nadir of despair. Just preparation.
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Even a day after the Lions won their first game of the season, Patricia said the victory brought no sense of relief for him.
“Again, I don’t ride the roller coaster,” he said in a conference call on Monday. “I just have to stay consistent. I think it’s hard to lead if you ride the roller coaster. I think it’s hard to exist in this world of competitive football if you ride that roller coaster because I think when you do that, you just hope it stops when you’re at the high point and not the down point.”
Patricia and his coaching staff have always preached their even-keel attitude. They know first-quarter leads and fourth-quarter deficits are bound to happen. Both occurred in the Lions’ victory in Arizona. Yet the Lions stayed in the game the whole time and put themselves in position for Matt Prater to kick the winning field goal as time expired.
It was the same kind of even-keeled consistency the Lions used to put rookie D’Andre Swift in position to catch the winning touchdown at the end of their season-opening loss to the Chicago Bears.
“For us, it’s just about being consistent,” Patricia said. “It’s early in the season. We’re trying to get better. We’re trying to learn and there’s a lot of places in this game that we have to get better. We’re going to go back to work and try to improve. That’s the bottom line. It’s the NFL. It’s every week. From that standpoint, love to win, love it. It was great, it was awesome. Love it for the guys, but there’s a lot to learn from, too.
“I think if you go into the approach that everything is great, from that standpoint, you’re missing a great opportunity to get better and to learn from what happened yesterday. Certainly in yesterday’s game, we made the play at the end of the game to win and, like I said, I give credit to the players. They’re the ones who did it. But for us as coaches, I think we have to stay consistent of just trying to give these guys every tool we can to help them get better each week.”
Something that critics should keep in mind about NFL coaches like Patricia is that they have very little time to dwell on emotional responses — good or bad — with the packed schedule built into a week of preparing for each week’s challenges. It’s why many coaches don’t get much sleep. They know that any time wasted on thinking about the highs and lows of wins and losses, or enjoying temporary relief, is time that Sean Payton and Drew Brees are spending on a plan to beat them.
That’s why Patricia, even by early afternoon Monday was praising how his team had already worked “this week” breaking down the film for Sunday’s game and getting ready for the New Orleans Saints.
“For me, really honestly, just happy for the players,” Patricia said. “I mean mostly in the locker room, you could just feel the joy and celebration in there for everybody. These guys work really hard. For me, obviously excited about the win, excited about everybody’s efforts and the way the guys have worked this week. Really, we came back and we started watching the tape right away. So you just kind of go into correction mode.
“Again, the Saints don’t really care what happened yesterday. They’re trying to get ready to go win this weekend, so we have to try to match that. I’m just really happy for the players. I think they — general excitement and gratitude towards each other for their efforts that they had on the field — that was awesome.”
Contact Carlos Monarrez at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Lions content.