| Detroit Free Press
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Matt Patricia is safe. For now. For another week, at least, maybe more, depending on what happens as the Detroit Lions slip into the easiest part of their schedule — not that the Lions have ever made anything look easy.
They did Sunday at TIAA Bank Field.
Sort of. Eventually. Yeah, I know, modifiers and qualifiers stink, but this is what the Lions do to you, to me, to themselves.
They make you doubt everything and wonder: What exactly happened Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars?
An easy win against a terrible team? (The Lions moved to 2-3 in beating the Jaguars, 34-16.)
Proof that Patricia and his staff used the extra week of practice to clean up the defense’s run fits and generate more pressure on the quarterback?
A break-out performance for running back D’Andre Swift?
A reminder that Patricia can still baffle … by calling for 57-yard-field goals on fourth-and-reasonable against awful defenses, and by shuffling in offensive guards when the team is rolling?
A reminder that as bad as you think your team is, there are often worse teams. Yes, the Jaguars are that bad. You knew that.
You knew, too, if the Lions lost Sunday you could start counting down to the next regime. Or at least to the next coach.
You may get your chance a week from now. For while Atlanta is also bad, they’re not as bad as the Jaguars.
But, for now, Patricia is your coach. And since fairness is something we can’t overlook, let’s give Patricia his due: He beat a team he was supposed to beat.
And while the Lions looked a bit crisper in execution and design, it’s hard to know how much of that is because of Jacksonville’s ineptitude, so we aren’t sure what this win really means.
We can, however, say a few things with certainty:
Swift is going to be a player.
So is Jonah Jackson.
After Swift started his career in crushing fashion by dropping a potential game-winning touchdown pass against Chicago, the rookie running back from Georgia has shown a nifty combination of tidy route-running, steady hands, explosiveness, and confidence.
Against the Jaguars’ struggling defense, Swift saw plenty of holes. Credit Swift for hitting them without hesitation.
He ran for 116 yards and two touchdowns, and his change-of-speed and change-of-direction was frequently mesmerizing. The more he learns the offense and the league, the more he should contribute, especially considering Kerryon Johnson’s limited capacity to play right now.
Jackson, meanwhile, continues to impress at left guard. The rookie lineman from Ohio State is difficult to move, it turns out. He also takes up a lot of space. Along with Taylor Decker and the emerging Frank Ragnow, the Lions look solid, maybe even more than solid on that side of the line.
Yeah, I know, their mauling Sunday came against a team that has now lost five in a row. But power is power, and Jackson has shown it every time he’s been given a chance.
Whether Patricia — and general manager Bob Quinn — get the chance to watch these players continue to develop is another matter. They have a lot to prove to get that chance, because Sunday’s win didn’t prove much.
Still, for the moment, they get a reprieve.
And the Lions got a win.