Detroit Lions’ Matt Patricia offers puzzling explanation for ‘a lot of work to do’ comment

Detroit Free Press

Dave Birkett
| Detroit Free Press

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Matt Patricia took a thinly veiled shot at the 9-7 team he inherited when he tried to defend his performance as Detroit Lions coach after Sunday’s loss to the New Orleans Saints by saying, “Certainly, I think when I came to Detroit there was a lot of work to do.”

Asked to clarify those comments Monday, Patricia, who’s gone 10-25-1 with the Lions, insisted he simply was using a phrase common to him.

“I probably say we got a lot of work to do, I probably said every day, right?” Patricia said. “I’m pretty sure that’s kind of my just, my general outlook on work. There’s always a lot to do and there’s always a lot to be done.”

Patricia’s initial comments came during his postgame video conference Sunday, when a reporter asked why people should continue to have faith in him as head coach.

The Lions are 1-3 this season, have blown double-digit leads in all three of their losses and have lost 12 of their past 13 games dating back to last year.

“I mean, obviously, that’s a hard question,” Patricia said. “Obviously, we just lost to the Saints. Let’s just give them credit for this game. They played extremely well and I know we’ve got a lot of work to do. Certainly, I think when I came to Detroit there was a lot of work to do, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Those comments drew the ire of former Lions quarterback Dan Orlovsky, who played three seasons for Patricia’s predecessor, Jim Caldwell, and now works as an analyst at ESPN.

Orlovsky called Patricia’s comments “a bunch of trash” during a radio appearance Monday, and former NFL receiver Keyshawn Johnson said they reeked of finger pointing.

“To come in and say you had a lot work to do is completely false,” Orlovsky said. “It’s a bunch of trash. Because that wasn’t the case in Detroit. We were a good football team. Matthew Stafford was playing as good as he has in his career. That was because of Coach Caldwell. And we were an organization that was ascending, we were building.”

Patricia has referenced the magnitude of the rebuild in Detroit several times during his 32 months on the job.

One common storyline he shared with national media to illustrate that point is that the Lions did not have permanent goal posts on their practice field when he arrived. Under Caldwell, the Lions used movable goal posts on wheels.

Caldwell was fired after the 2017 season with a 36-30 record, good for a .545 winning percentage, and two playoff appearances. When he was fired, general manager Bob Quinn said he was looking for a coach who could make the Lions perennial Super Bowl contenders.

“The culture was amazing,” Orlovsky said, refuting that a rebuild needed to be done. “The culture was fantastic. So, you had a winning record in three of your four years. The culture was great and your quarterback was playing really good football. So for (Patricia) to say there was a lot of work to be done is a bunch of trash.”

Patricia, whose winning percentage is .292, declined Monday to reflect on how big a rebuilding job he thought he had when he came to Detroit.


Detroit Lions’ Matt Patricia explains ‘a lot of work to do’ quote

Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia said his general philosophy in coaching involves the consistent pursuit of hard work to better a franchise.

As for why the work has taken so long, he said, “every year is new in the NFL and for us this year, we’ve just got to go out and play better and perform better and coach better on the field.”

“I mean, right now it’s all about this team, it’s about us, it’s about going forward, it’s about what do we do this week, what do we do next week, when we get to Jacksonville, and just how do we get better,” Patricia said. “I always just feel that there’s a lot of just work to do and I think that’s kind of just my internal drive every day to try to be the best coach, best whatever it is that day. Like, let’s go to work and let’s do a lot and try to be the best at it that we can every single day.”


Patricia declined to offer injury updates on two players who left Sunday’s game with injuries, defensive tackle Nick Williams (shoulder) and running back Kerryon Johnson. Cornerback Desmond Trufant also left Sunday’s game after reaggravating the hamstring injury that kept him out two games. “No updates right now on those, but I think just hopefully it’s just some normal gameday stuff,” Patricia said.

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Lions content. 

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