At the end of Matt Patricia’s first season as head coach, there were many issues with the Detroit Lions.
The team wasn’t very good. The Lions went 6-10. There were many moments of turmoil off the field. Patricia wasn’t bad enough to be one-and-done, but his second year seemed pretty crucial to his long-term future.
Patricia’s Lions are better, but how much? They’re 2-1-1 but the next two games will go a long way in determining if they’re playoff contenders. The Lions play at the Green Bay Packers on Monday night, a game that can be live-streamed on the Yahoo Sports app. Then the Lions host the Minnesota Vikings in Week 7.
The Lions play in a tough NFC North and if they want to win their first division title since 1993, they’ll have to score some quality wins over their biggest rivals. That starts Monday.
Lions start has been mixed
Things looked bleak for the Lions in the preseason after a 31-3 loss to the Patriots, but it was just preseason. The regular season has been a mixed bag.
In Week 1, the Lions looked fantastic against the Arizona Cardinals for three quarters. They collapsed in the fourth quarter and settled for an uninspiring tie. After that, Detroit scored two quality wins over the Los Angeles Chargers and Philadelphia Eagles. The Lions were significantly out-gained in both games and needed some breaks to win, but nobody will apologize for those two wins, especially beating the Eagles on the road.
The Lions were poised to score a huge win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 4. They led 30-27 and forced the Chiefs into a fourth-and-8 inside the final two minutes. Patrick Mahomes ran for a first down on that play, then led a drive that ended with a game-winning touchdown. Instead of a signature win, the Lions were stuck with a tough, forgettable home loss.
The Lions are 2-1-1, which is a good start given their schedule. But there are reasons to wonder if their start is legit. Are they set up to stick around for the long haul?
Lions swept the Packers last season
One of the highlights of Patricia’s first season was sweeping the Packers. Being a coach, it put Patricia on edge knowing Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will want to make up for that.
“It probably makes me more nervous than anything, to be honest with you, just knowing what a competitor he is,” Patricia said according to MLive.com.
Patricia has shown progress this season. The offense is more aggressive and the defense has been good. There haven’t been stories about players not happy with his style, like there were last year, and that makes sense. It took Patricia a while to shape the roster with players who have bought into his approach, and his schemes too. That is still a work in progress. However, Patricia might have needed to take steps forward this season to buy more time in Detroit.
The start, on the whole, has been good. But the NFL rarely lets up, especially in the toughest division in the league. The brutal reality is a seven-day stretch against the Packers and Vikings will go a long way in determining if Patricia’s second season is a success.
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