| Detroit Free Press
There is nothing left to see. Nothing left to say.
Other than this: It’s not working. Not for Matt Patricia. Not for Bob Quinn. Not for the Detroit Lions. Not for you.
Not after the nationally televised debacle on Thanksgiving, when the Lions had the NFL fan base to itself and got embarrassed by an equally struggling team.
Hi there, America. Welcome to the NFL’s little corner of hell. Please, forgive us.
As for the Houston Texans? You’re welcome, though you’re not the only ones who get right by spending an overnight in our neck of the woods.
It was predictable, really, the Texans’ 41-25 win over the Lions. Just as it was predictable when the Lions tried to gain a yard on fourth down in the fourth quarter to keep whatever chance they had alive.
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At that point, they were trailing, 41-17, the clowning having commenced an hour earlier. Still, they didn’t want to give up and all that. So, they went for it on fourth-and-1 from their own 34.
They sent fullback Jason Cabinda into the line of scrimmage and gained nothing. The Texans took over on downs.
On the next play, Houston’s wondrous quarterback, DeShaun Watson, handed off to his running back, waited for a pass back to him, then fired it downfield 34 yards to Will Fuller to complete the flea-flicker touchdown.
He was wide open. You could almost hear the chuckling from the broadcast booth, where Jim Nantz and Tony Romo did their best to take the afternoon seriously.
Good for them. Still, they see it. Everyone sees it, especially now.
Then again, it was obvious after last season, when Lions coach Matt Patricia and the man who hired him, Bob Quinn, guided the franchise nowhere good. At least then you could point to injuries and tough luck, and to the absence of Matthew Stafford, the one decent spot in this decade of misery.
Wait … decade?
Though Patricia needed a lot less time to show he wasn’t the coach to salvage this slice of NFL purgatory. It took him exactly one night.
You remember that game, right? It also was on national television.
If that blowout loss to the Jets on Monday Night Football foreshadowed what was to come, the blowout loss on Thanksgiving should foreshadow the end, the sooner the better.
To be fair, Patricia had a couple of moments here and there. After alienating part of the locker room in his first season, he tried to lighten up and communicate better the next. Also, to be fair, he never has blamed his players or his general manager for his lack of success.
He just can’t connect with his team. Or teach his team — as Romo noted during the broadcast, the Lions linebackers kept biting on play-action sets from Houston despite its inability to run the ball before Thursday,
In other words, the focus and detail never were there, which is pretty damning considering Patricia was brought in to bring those things. Just as he was brought in to strengthen the defense and roll out a program based on physicality and toughness.
He has done almost none of that.
When asked if he thought he’d be coaching next week he said:
“I focus on one day at a time. That hasn’t changed. So, we’ll focus on today and go from there.”
Applaud the dedication to his story of one-day-at-a-time if you must. But surely he knows he isn’t long for this place.
His failures, though, aren’t just at his feet. His boss, Quinn, hasn’t helped much, either.
The general manager has found a few gems in the draft and in free agency, but mostly he has found guys who aren’t good enough to compete at the highest level of the league.
Quinn has had almost five years. He fired Jim Caldwell, the coach who got him to the playoffs, because he was seduced by the way of the Belichick.
Well, it’s time for Quinn to move on, too. Whether this weekend or this winter, it doesn’t matter. This organization doesn’t like to change it up during the season and that’s fine.
But the focus from ownership must be on what comes next. Because Thursday was pitiful and sad. And sadder still that almost everyone knew it was coming.
Contact Shawn Windsor: 313-222-6487 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @shawnwindsor.