If Detroit Lions want a Matt Patricia replacement, Panthers show college coaches can work

Detroit Free Press

Dave Birkett
| Detroit Free Press

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Free Press sports writer Dave Birkett breaks down the Detroit Lions’ 20-0 loss to the Carolina Panthers and looks at who helped and hurt their stock Sunday.

Stock up

College coaches: It feels like it is only a matter of time before the Lions start looking for a new head coach, and one thing the Panthers proved is tapping into the college coaching ranks is a feasible way to go. Matt Rhule, in his first NFL season after spending the past three years at Baylor, has his Panthers playing above their talent level and surviving despite a slew of injuries. Rhule’s offensive coordinator, Joe Brady, the former offensive coordinator at LSU, should get coaching interviews this offseason, as the young and up-and-coming play caller has some similarities to Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay.

Lions grades in loss to Panthers: Most F’s we’ve handed out this year ]

CB Amani Oruwariye: I get why the Lions are using their cornerback rotation – they feel obligated to play their No. 3 overall pick. But Oruwariye has played well enough 10 games into the season that he deserves to be on the field for every defensive snap. The second-year corner had an interception in the end zone Sunday on a play he recognized from film, and had a mostly solid day in coverage. His fellow outside cornerbacks, Jeff Okudah and Desmond Trufant, got beat on touchdowns.

DE Everson Griffen: Griffen had a quiet day statistically. He did not make a tackle and seemed to play fewer snaps on defense than he did last week against Washington. But he showed on a two-minute drive late in the first half why the Lions need more of him on the field. Griffen started the series off with a good speed rush that caused left tackle Trent Scott to false start on the next play, and he nearly got to quarterback P.J. Walker later in the drive with a slick spin move. The Lions had one sack, when Walker scrambled out of bounds at the line of scrimmage when no one was open downfield. There’s no excuse for not playing Griffen more.

After shutout loss, how does Matt Patricia remain Lions coach? ]

Stock down

OC Darrell Bevell: Playing without top running back D’Andre Swift and top receiver Kenny Golladay, the Lions looked lost offensively while getting shut out for the first time since 2009. They did not execute well enough to get the Panthers out of the drop-eight coverages they employed much of the day, and settled into the same boring routine with personnel. Yes, the absence of Swift and Golladay was an issue; the Lions could not run the ball at all. But Brady did not have his starting quarterback and running back, and Carolina had little trouble moving the ball.

RB Adrian Peterson: Peterson made his seventh start at running back, and for the Lions’ sake, hopefully it’s his last. He had 18 yards rushing on seven carries and dropped the only pass thrown his way. Eight touches is not enough for a running back to find a rhythm, but Peterson did not do anything to deserve more work. He had little running room to work with, but failed to bounce one run outside when he had a big hole, and got few yards after contact.

CB Jeff Okudah: Okudah may turn out to be a fine player. Certainly, some of the Lions coaches think he will. But he has too many moments like the 52-yard pass he gave up Sunday, where he gets beat off the line of scrimmage and does not have the speed to catch up. Okudah also got turned around on a 10-yard slant pass he gave up to D.J. Moore. He’s loaded with talent, hence why he went No. 3. But it has not clicked for him 10 games into his rookie year.

Lions CB Jeff Okudah: Rookie year more difficult than I imagined ]

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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