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Lions players and fans, embrace Patricia

The Detroit Lions performance on national stage Monday Night Football was an off-the-rails implosion but it appeared to have a hidden message in it as well.

That message?

The players looked apathetic and uninterested in performing for their new head coach Matt Patricia. It felt like they were throwing their rookie head coach and his sharpened pencil under the bus. Were they? Well, several days prior to the kickoff there was a buzz around the league and locker rooms that the Lions’ players don’t like playing for the new coach and they were having a hard time adjusting to his style.


Is it because these veterans have been accustomed to easier practices for a super laid back guy, Jim Caldwell, who would rarely, if ever, get into their faces on a sideline or rip them a new one at practice like Patricia does? It seemed like a walk in the park playing for laid back Jim compared to say, a Bill Belichick type of a guy, or say, a Scotty Bowman authoritative type, but more on that later.

The Lions have grown accustomed to 9-7 seasons or appearing in one playoff game, even if it’s a loss, as being defined as a successful season. Because, you know, it’s hard to make the playoffs in the NFL. That is true but the good news for Lions fans is Lions GM Bob Quinn and Patricia would never be satisfied with that. That’s why Lions management brought them in.

Hey I get it! Everyone is up in arms after Monday night’s dumpster fire against a team that was 1-7 on the road last year. A team who started the youngest quarterback in modern era Week One ever.

Fans want accountability and who is the easiest target?

The head coach. So everyone, grab your pitchforks, storm down Woodward Avenue and chant “Fire Patricia now!” And start a hashtag on social media promoting to fire him too!

Wait a minute, people. Lets take a breath and think this thing through.

Patricia was the bearded pirate looking guy on the sideline and not the guys throwing the ball right into the numbers of the Jets defenders for five interceptions or the one shanking two field goals, or missing tackles, so yeah, thinking this through feels like a good thing.

Bottom line is, Matt Patricia is the guy this team needs right now.

Before you go on social media to tell everyone how big of an idiot I am for writing that, think about this familiar Detroit sports analogy and why the Lions need to buy into Patricia and his system.

Scotty Bowman came to Detroit with too many Stanley Cup rings to fit on one hand and loads of valuable experience, knowing what it takes to build a winner. But Bowman had a hardcore, authoritative coaching style, a style the Detroit players were not accustomed to and didn’t like. The type of style the Lions may need to snap them out of their funk and play at the next level.

Scotty began holding Red Wings players accountable, regardless who they were on the pecking order, and requiring them to buy into his new system. Many of the veterans didn’t buy into it and showed dissonance, playing below expectations. Bowman was his no-nonsense self and placed mega star forward Sergei Fedorov on defense until he learned to be a two-way player. He also traded several of the Red Wings star players. Dino Ciccarelli, Keith Primeau and Paul Coffey were all dealt in trades that shocked the NHL.

That same year, the Red Wings won their first championship in about a half of a century, breaking the longest drought in the NHL. Those were gutsy moves by Bowman. And not well received by the fans or the players when they happened but it shook the team up and brought a championship.

As experienced and deserving as Bowman was to gain immediate respect and total cooperation from the Red Wings players the moment he arrived, he didn’t receive that so imagine what Patricia is going through right now.

These are pro athletes. NFL. NHL. NBA. Whatever league they’re in, many have been pampered throughout their careers and many times need a swift kick in the ass to get motivated. Bowman did it and it worked.

So can Quinn and Patricia and I sense it may be coming. Don’t forget. These two came from the organization that trade Pro Bowl talent if they feel it’s best for the “team” – Google Randy Moss and Richard Seymour.

If the Lions want to get over the hump of mediocrity, they need to buy into Patricia‘s system. Makes no sense for them not to when a similar system brought a slew of championships to New England. Yes, the Patriots have Tom Brady but the Lions also have an able quarterback in place for the long haul with a new contract.

Patricia and Quinn are in Detroit for one reason, and one reason only. To bring the Lombardy Trophy to Detroit and put an end to decades of epic failure.

Bowman brought three championships to Detroit to end that historic NHL drought. Patricia and Quinn deserve a fair chance to break the Bobby Layne curse as well.

But it needs to start with the veteran Lions players showing maturity and being all in and making it known that they are. Making it known to the media and fans and owner Mrs. Ford. Quinn and Patricia deserve that respect from the players. And the fans deserve it. It worked for the Red Wings. It can work for the Lions.

In the meantime, Patricia is gonna need a bigger eraser after Monday night.

Follow Tom Ferda on Twitter @TomFerda

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Stafford is key to Lions defense

This NFL preseason we keep hearing about how the Detroit Lions defensive line has shown vast improvement from last season and will be depended on to carry the team’s questionable squad.

If you  watched either of the Lions’ first two preseason games, it’s clear this group is aggressive and will be wreaking havoc, collapsing pockets  and causing Percy Harvin-type migraines for their opponents.

Coach Jim Schwartz worked overtime to revamp the front four that includes newly-acquired veterans Kyle Vander Bosch and Corey Williams as well as No. 2 overall draft pick, Ndamukong Suh. This unit will be a force no doubt but the key player to keeping points off the opponent’s board this season is actually on the offensive side of the ball; his name is Matthew Stafford.

Stafford, who ranks near the top of the Top 50 Athletes salary list, has shined thus far in the preseason and has done well showing off Detroit’s new offensive weapons like wide receiver Nate Burleson, rookie running back Jahvid Best and tight end Tony Sheffler. With wideout Calvin Johnson thrown in the mix, Stafford has been showing great poise this preseason and opting for longer, structured drives as opposed to looking for the homerun ball to Johnson.

Yeah, it’s preseason and we know the Lions were 4-0 in preseason the same year they went on to their Matt Millen-infested 0-16 record but the good news is, Stafford is orchestrating 10, 11 and 14 play drives this preseason and that may be the key to this team’s success.

If Stafford can learn to utilize the new two tight end formation the Lions are implementing and  control the ball and clock, keeping the team’s sieve-style unit off the field, expect these 2010 Lions to compete.

The Lions’ defense is suffering some significant personnel losses including the season-ending injury to linebacker Jordan Dizon and the nagging groin injury that has severely limited second-year standout Louis Delmas. Not keeping veteran tackling machine Larry Foote who wanted to stay in Detroit may come back to haunt the Lions, especially after the Dizon injury

Over the past few years opposing quarterbacks have feasted on Detroit’s defense making career days out of what should have been ordinary Sundays.

I don’t expect to see embarrassing opening game plays like the 60+ yard bomb that Matt Ryan smoked the Lions’ defense on in his first play of his NFL career or the multi-career-days so many running backs have put up against the team’s former defenses, but regardless, there is still a lot of work to be done and that’s why Stafford is the key.

Stafford has brought hope to Detroit and their loyal fans and thus far is showing he can handle carrying the team on his shoulders. Question will be, can he maintain ball control and keep the team’s demise off the field.

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