Matt Patricia is still Detroit Lions coach, and no one from the organization will say why

Detroit Free Press

Dave Birkett
 
| Detroit Free Press

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Adrian Peterson was in Washington last season when he saw the first strings of the franchise unravel.

Head coach Jay Gruden was fired after an 0-5 start, a few months later team president Bruce Allen was shown the door and this summer the organization dealt with a slew of off-field issues while trying to build something positive in the locker room and on the football field.

Nothing about the past 12 months in Washington has been pretty, and nothing about it — in Peterson’s eyes, at least — resembles what’s going on in Detroit now.

[ Why Sheila Ford Hamp would have been wise to cut ties with Matt Patricia on Friday ]

“No, not at all,” said Peterson, who played the 2018-19 seasons in Washington before signing with the Detroit Lions after his August release. “I really don’t listen to the noise anyway, I’m too focused (on my job). But that’s not the feel that we have in the locker room, that’s not the mentality, and I think we’re too locked in, we’re focused on trying to get Ws.”

The Lions have not had many of those lately; one in five November games and just four wins all season, to be exact.

But despite their failings on the field, they gave head coach Matt Patricia at least a brief stay of execution.

Patricia still had a job Friday evening, a day after another ugly loss, 41-25, to the Houston Texans on Thanksgiving. 

None of general manager Bob Quinn, president Rod Wood or owner Sheila Ford Hamp responded to requests for comment Friday, and the Lions did not issue a statement on their inaction of the day.

That does not mean Patricia, who is 13-29-1 in his third season with the franchise, is out of the woods. 

Steve Mariucci was fired on the Monday after Thanksgiving in 2005. Martin Mayhew and Tom Lewand were let go four days after the Lions returned home from a blowout loss in London in 2015. And people both in the organization and around the NFL reaffirmed Friday they believe Patricia is down to his final few weeks, if not days, as Lions coach.

I do not have a clear understanding of when something will happen, or why it has not already, but you’d be hard-pressed right now to find anyone who thinks it won’t.

[How Detroit Lions’ Matt Patricia compares to other head coaching hires made in 2018 ]

Perhaps there are financial considerations at play, not unreasonable considering the number of revenue streams that have dried up for the organization this year. Or perhaps it’s the fact that a firing with five games left has little significance beyond some bloodletting.

No interim coach is going to lead the Lions, at 4-7 and with five double-digit losses this season, to the playoffs, and there’s no potential replacement worth his salt, save maybe former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, who’s available to interview right now.

The biggest question that remains is whether the Lions bring Quinn back for a sixth season as GM. He has made plenty of solid draft picks and had plenty of missteps, too, but he appears to have at least distanced himself enough from Patricia for his return to be a possibility.

His evaluation will and should be separate from Patricia’s.

Friday was an off day for Lions players and coaches, save for the COVID-19 tests they were given in Allen Park. This weekend, players and coaches have more off time scheduled, something everyone needs at this point in the season.

Peterson said he still sees a fight in players that was not there in the final days of Gruden’s tenure in Washington, something that surely was not evident to those of us watching Thursday.

“The energy is there,” he said. “If we win the game (against the Texans) are we talking about (Patricia’s future)?”

Probably, because this has been going on far too long. It’s like hitting refresh on your browser for those concert tickets that are guaranteed to sell out.

At some point it will end. And for everyone involved, and even those watching from afar, it can’t happen soon enough.

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

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