| Detroit Free Press
Free Press sports writer Carlos Monarrez answers three questions following the Detroit Lions’ 34-20 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday:
Should Matthew Stafford have been benched?
Yes. Right after he threw his second red zone interception in the third quarter. And before anyone gets their knickers in a twist, let me be clear. A benching is not the end of the world. A benching just means it’s not your day, things aren’t going great and maybe there’s a better alternative. Yeah, I know Chase Daniel wasn’t exactly amazing when he entered the game. But Stafford can’t throw two terrible interceptions like that and kill any hopes of a rally. The Lions were down, 27-10, late in the third quarter. They should have come away with at least 10 points in those two drives. I think Stafford clearly gives the Lions the best chance to succeed – until he starts becoming a detriment. That’s when coaches have to be willing to take the ball out of his hands and give it to someone who can take better care of it.
Should Matt Patricia be fired?
Absolutely! After all, he threw those two terrible interceptions in the red zone. And he missed an early 46-yard field goal. Look, Matt Patricia is an easy target in all of this. A lot will be made of his division struggles and his winless record against the Vikings, and the Bears. But who was the quarterback in those games? And I don’t want to hear people claiming the players are checked out. Let’s not forget the defense kept playing its butts off, and the punt-block unit has been heroic. Everyone wants to pin the defense’s less-than-stellar performance on Patricia. But his philosophy has always been built on complementary football. So when Prater starts missing and Stafford struggles for the second straight game, yet the defense comes up with two key three-and-outs late in the game, I don’t see how you can fault the head coach for everything.
How bad was this loss?
Take a deep breath, check your emotion at the door and listen to me: It wasn’t that bad. There were lots of mitigating factors in this game. Stafford missed the whole week of practice while in quarantine and the Lions were without their best weapon in Kenny Golladay, and their best defender in Trey Flowers, and a pretty good playmaker in safety Tracy Walker. Even with all that, and facing an MVP candidate in Dalvin Cook who destroyed the Packers last week, the Lions would have had a good chance to rally in the third quarter if not for Stafford’s interceptions. They started the game in 10th position in the NFC playoff race, and only dropped one spot after the loss. I picked the Lions to lose this game. But they should have a very good chance to win their next four games. And let’s not forget this. They went 1-3 in the first quarter of the season. They’ve now gone 2-2 in the second quarter. That’s improvement by any measure.
Contact Carlos Monarrez at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.