Sheila Ford Hamp’s promise to Detroit Lions fans is a farce with Matt Patricia as coach

Detroit Free Press

Jeff Seidel
| Detroit Free Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Back in June, Sheila Ford Hamp made a bold statement after she was named the principal owner of the Detroit Lions.

“I think the overarching thing is that we want to see major improvement,” she said.

Her expectation was clear.

“I am a very competitive person,” she told reporters. “I grew up playing competitive tennis. It’s an individual sport and I’m out there by myself and, boy, I hated to lose. I still hate to lose. I guess that’s my message to the fans: I’ll hate to lose as much as they do, and I’ll try not to.”

[ Detroit Lions grades vs. Panthers: The most F’s we’ve handed out all year ]

Call me a skeptic, but I won’t believe her, not until she shows it.

If Hamp is true to her word, there is no objective reason why Matt Patricia, 13-28-1 as head coach, will keep his job.

If she is true to her word, she will clean house and start over — the sooner the better. Because it’s time to realize the truth: the Lions are regressing before our eyes and there is no sign of progress.

The Lions are 4-6 and coming off an absolute disaster against the Carolina Panthers, 20-0, their third loss in four games.

If they were losing games in a competitive way, it would be one thing. But they have been blown out in four of their six losses. They lost by 20 points to Indianapolis, 41-21. Fourteen points to Minnesota Vikings, 34-20. And now, this 20-point failure.

“I don’t necessarily think it was the scheme, we just played better,” Carolina rookie-coach Matt Rhule said.

No disrespect to the Panthers, but it was because they were playing the Lions — a walking disappointment created by general manager Bob Quinn and led by Patricia.

The Lions couldn’t beat a team that had lost five straight and has a horrible defense.

The Lions couldn’t stop a team that played without Teddy Bridgewater, who missed Sunday’s game along with star running back Christian McCaffrey, one of the premier players in the NFL.

Instead, the Panthers started some guy you’ve never heard of from the XFL.

“Very disappointing game,” Patricia said. “Did not go the way that we wanted it to, in fact, it was just the complete opposite of everything that we talked about trying to do this week.”

Note to the rest of America: Sorry you’re left to watch this team on Thanksgiving.

Then again, try living here.

PATRICIA’S FUTURE: After shutout loss, how does Matt Patricia keep his job?

WHO TO BLAME? Darrell Bevell, Matthew Stafford earn share of the fault

All Out of Love

When the Lions were introduced before the game, the public address system blared Air Supply’s “All Out of Love”. It was a perfect bit of gamesmanship, setting the tone for the Lions.

“I’m all out of love, what am I without you

I can’t be too late to say that I was so wrong.”

And that’s how they played, like they were stuck in the ’80s, waking up from a soft rock dream.

That, or they were getting a root canal at the dentist’s office.

The music switched suddenly when the Panthers came onto the field. The PA speakers blared AC/DC’s “Back in Black”.

You think that was by accident? Well-coached teams and well-run organizations think of everything. The Panthers were jumping around, full of passion, and they kicked the Lions’ butts, not because of the music and not because they have the better roster.

No. The Panthers won because it featured all of the hallmarks of a Patricia-coached team:

The Lions made mental mistakes at the worst time, such as lining up incorrectly, which wiped away a 51-yard flea-flicker touchdown pass.

The Lions were undisciplined. They jumped offside twice to help the Panthers run out the clock.

But most of all, this team coached by a defensive genius made an unheralded quarterback look fantastic. This time, it was P.J. Walker, who was making his first career start. Walker played at Temple under Rhule and was picked up by the Colts and put on their practice squad. He was cut and dropped 11 times from 2017 to 2019 before going to the XFL.

On Sunday afternoon, he threw for 258 yards and a touchdown

“It was awesome,” he said.

This is a guy who didn’t learn he was going to start until Sunday. “Mentally, I was prepared,” he said.

How many Lions can we say that about?

You could roll out a list of excuses and say the Lions struggled on offense Sunday because they were missing several key players, including running back D’Andre Swift and receivers Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola. And it’s also true Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was playing with a partially torn ligament in his thumb.

But that doesn’t explain being shut out for the first time since Stafford’s rookie season in 2009. 

Empty promises

After the game, Stafford dug deep into his memory bank and started to repeat quotes that sounded so familiar.

“We got enough talent to win,” Stafford said. “We just got to go out there and do it.”

But there was something interesting. His eyes looked empty.

Just like this team.

The Lions showed no energy and no passion against Carolina. There was no desperation. There was no fight, not even for a team that had a shot at the playoffs.

That’s on Patricia. He sets the tone.

Now, let’s go back to that day Hamp took over as the owner.

“My message (is) I’m going to do everything in my power to create a winning organization, and especially on the field,” she said. “The fans deserve it, the city deserves it, and I am a very competitive person.”

Do you believe her?

Every day Patricia remains the coach, it’s just an empty promise.


A moment in Detroit reminded me how much good there is in the world

Contact Jeff Seidel: Follow him on Twitter @seideljeff. To read his recent columns, go to

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