The Detroit Lions are 1-3, and have found winning consistently hard to do in 2020. As a result, Matt Patricia is starting to feel the heat. According to the coach, however, the team’s losing isn’t all his fault.
Speaking after another Lions debacle on Sunday, Patricia said that the team he took over had a lot of work to do in order to be successful, and he’s trying to do that work now. Naturally, that excuse isn’t sitting well with some fans and even some alumni of the team.
It also isn’t sitting well with former Super Bowl champion wideout Torrey Smith. While Smith never played for the Lions, he did play under their former coach Jim Caldwell with the Baltimore Ravens, and recognizes that Caldwell had the Lions a lot closer to the playoffs and the postseason success than Patricia ever has.
As Smith tweeted, Patricia’s assertion that the franchise had a lot of work to do is a lie, considering the team was 9-7 following Caldwell’s departure.
It’s certainly getting harder for defenders of Patricia to find rallying points given his miserable record and the decline of the team under his watch. Just this week, Patricia lost to a team that was down 6 starters while the majority of his own team was healthy.
In the aftermath, it’s probably not wise for Patricia to blame his situation on his predecessors. He should be taking complete ownership of the team’s failures. When he doesn’t, it only makes him seem more ridiculous in the end.
Dan Orlovsky Slams Matt Patricia
Quarterback turned ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky is one such player who is not pleased with how things have gone under Patricia’s watch. Speaking on Monday morning on Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin after an ugly loss against the New Orleans Saints, Orlovsky spoke openly about the end of Jim Caldwell’s tenure with the Lions and what’s happened so far under Patricia and let the Detroit coach have a major piece of his mind.
Here’s Orlovsky’s take:
“First of all, we were 11-5 in 2014, we were a really good football team. 2015 we go 7-9, it’s because we turned the football over, but the last 8 games we were 7-1. It flipped our season around. The next 2 years we were 9-7 and I believe in Week 17 we were playing Green Bay for the division. To come in and say you had a lot of work to do, is completely false. It’s a bunch of trash. Because that wasn’t the case in Detroit. We were a good football team, Matthew Stafford was playing as good as he has in his career, that was because of coach Caldwell. We were an organization that was ascending. He was building. The culture was amazing, the culture was fantastic. You had a winning record in 3 of your 4 years, the coach was great, the quarterback was playing really good football. For him to come in and say there was a lot of work to be done was a bunch of trash. Second of all, you know what coach Caldwell wasn’t? A finger pointer. It’s wrong. It’s false. For (Patricia) to go and say, at 10-25, ‘well before I got here it was bad.’ Here’s the thing coach, no it wasn’t. We have eyewitness accounts of it not being bad. It was actually really good. It was a great place to be, a great place to work. We loved playing for coach Caldwell and it was a good football team. Was it great? No. Here’s the thing. When he was hired, the comment was we need to take the next step as an organization. It was built for growth, not regression. And they have regressed massively.”
Orlovsky is right. While the Lions may not have been elite under Caldwell, they seemed primed to take the next step following his departure, and things have gotten markedly worse. That’s a black eye for Patricia and his staff, who have had trouble getting their program on the ground and running successfully in Detroit when the team looked primed to be able to jump forward.
While Caldwell’s Lions struggled in plenty of ways, it’s getting hard to argue that the team was never as bad or as ill-prepared as they look under Patricia. That’s bad news for the coach and his future, especially considering his potentially former status as a defensive guru.
Matt Patricia’s Future Murky With Lions
This week, Detroit heads into the bye week with a woeful record. The pressure from the fanbase to make a move will likely be immense, but that doesn’t mean the Lions are going to do so. In fact, probably far from it in the short term at this point in time.
Speaking to WXYZ’s Brad Galli after the 35-29 loss, Detroit Free Press reporter Dave Birkett was asked directly about Patricia’s future. As he said, while there might not be a short term danger to Patricia, there is certainly a long term danger.
“I do think he should have concern for the long term future. I don’t think the Lions will make a move right now. I don’t know there’s much point to making a move after 4 games. 1-3, the Lions still have a shot, especially when you look at what’s ahead. I think the 7 teams before Thanksgiving, one of them has a winning record. We’re 36 games into Matt Patricia’s tenure as head coach. He inherited a 9 win team. When you look at what this team has done under Matt Patricia, there’s very little reason to believe that Matt Patricia is going to get a 4th season as head coach.”
Waiting until the end of the season might be painful for Lions fans, but it seems like the most likely scenario at this point for the team. Patricia had better hope he can use his upcoming schedule to make a run, or it could be curtains for the coach in Detroit.
Right now, that could be the direction things could be heading in the future, and if tons of former players are to be believed, it makes sense to them.