Matt Patricia’s job security once again in question as Detroit Lions enter bye

Detroit Free Press

Dave Birkett
| Detroit Free Press

One week after they quieted talk of Matt Patricia losing his job with a win over the Arizona Cardinals, the Detroit Lions were answering questions about the future of their head coach again after Sunday’s 35-29 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

“We all believe in the plan that’s put in place for us,” left tackle Taylor Decker said. “We’re professional athletes. We’re expected to come here and perform and follow the lead of the things that the coaches have us do. So we believe in what’s being taught here. If we didn’t, frankly, we wouldn’t be here.”

Patricia’s future has been a point of debate since Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp announced last December, in the midst of a nine-game losing streak, that he and general manager Bob Quinn would return this fall for a third season together.

The Lions are 10-25-1 under Patricia’s command, and on Sunday they allowed 35 consecutive points after racing to a 14-0 lead.

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They’ve blown double-digit leads in all three of their defeats this season, and 12 times in Patricia’s 36 games as head coach.

Asked if he was worried about his job security heading into this week’s bye, Patricia skirted the question Sunday.

“Let’s just talk about the Saints game,” he said. “I’m just trying to get us to play better than what we did today. I come to work every day trying to do the best I can to help this team win. We’ve got great guys in that locker room and we’ve got to find a way to win.”

Decker said his confidence in Patricia is due in part to the “flashes of how good we can be.”

“You see spurts here and there of what we can do when we execute,” he said. “We know we have all the pieces to execute what we need in this locker room and on this team. But at the end of the day, it’s a full group effort. Everybody has to do their job. We’ve seen flashes of it. We just need to see it more consistently.”

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Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said he has “plenty of confidence” in Patricia despite the team’s 1-3 start

“We got the pieces, we got the coach, we just got to go play, man,” said linebacker Reggie Ragland.

Challenge accepted

The Lions wasted a challenge in the second quarter Sunday on a play that was upheld on replay, and Patricia acknowledged that failed decision ultimately led him to not challenge a second-half Saints fumble recovery that gave New Orleans favorable field position.

“I mean, obviously, the one view we saw, which was he kind of landed on top of the defender when the ball came out, so we thought we had a good chance at it and it just took a while, and then eventually we saw the other view,” Patricia said. “Figured it was obviously a game where we were trying to get as many possessions as we could, knowing how good they are, and that one didn’t work out.”

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Patricia asked for a review on Romeo Okwara’s sack of Drew Brees early in the second quarter, when replays convincingly showed Trey Flowers knocked the ball out of Brees’ hand after Brees was on the ground.

In the third quarter, Brees completed a short pass to Josh Hill at the Lions’ 42-yard line. Hill fumbled the ball forward, and Tre’Quan Smith recovered the loose ball at the Lions’ 25.

Replays appeared to show that Hill was down before he lost the ball, but since there was no change of possession on the play, Patricia did not challenge.

The Saints scored touchdowns on both drives.

“When you challenge early, it definitely affects what you do later in the game when things come up that you want to try and challenge,” Patricia said. “That’s part of the challenge process.”

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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