Lions' Patricia brushes off concerns about play-calling predictability
Allen Park — It was salt in the wound.
After embarrassing the Detroit Lions at home on national television Monday night, several New York Jets players made sure to tell anyone who would listen that they knew what plays and schemes the Lions were running before the ball was snapped.
Jets offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum told reporters he knew they had the right call that led to Isaiah Crowell's 62-yard, back-breaking touchdown run in the third quarter based on Detroit's defensive alignment. And safety Jamal Adams, cornerback Morris Claiborne and linebacker Darron Lee all claimed they were able to identify multiple Lions' plays pre-snap.
Those plays included Lee’s first of two interceptions on the night, where he stepped in front of a pass intended for running back Theo Riddick and took it back 36 yards to the house.
But if Lions coach Matt Patricia is worried about his team’s predictability, he isn’t letting on. Instead, the former defensive coordinator said film study and matchup scouting revealing tendencies is commonplace in the NFL.
“I would say, in general, there are a lot of things that go on in a game that are identifiable to the players on both sides of the ball, through the course of the game,” Patricia said during a conference call on Tuesday. “That happens at times. Those things come up. There’s obviously very specific things used in the course of a game, where guys do a good job hearing things or studying things or seeing stuff, from that standpoint. We do try to do the best we can to keep it moving on both sides of the ball.”
Patricia went a step further and said the Lions had a good handle on what the Jets were doing, both on offense and defense, but weren’t able to execute at the same level as their opponent.
“I would say, on the flip side, a very (run game coordinator Rick) Dennison run game, a base offense pass game, it was a Todd Bowles, Kacy (Rodgers) defense," Patricia said. "I think, on both sides of the ball, we knew exactly what everybody was trying to do. They obviously executed a lot better than we did. I think we’re talking about something that’s pretty common when you have to face an opponent that you’re very familiar with some of what they do.”
The claim that the Lions knew what the Jets were trying to do isn’t going to ease the minds of Lions fans who entered the season with high hopes — only to have them dashed before the end of the first game.
For what it’s worth, Patricia insisted he believes his message is getting through to the team, the roster's effort has been consistently high, including all four quarters Monday night, and he has the necessary talent and depth to execute his defensive scheme. All this despite visual evidence that would seem to contradict him on all accounts.
“I mean, look, these guys work really hard every single day,” Patricia said. “These guys, I give them a lot of credit for everything they try to do. They come in and they try to do it the right way. We’re obviously pushing forward and trying to learn, grow and get better at everything we do right now. I don’t see any issues there whatsoever.”
Patricia even managed to find a silver lining from Monday’s dumpster fire performance.
“The good thing about this game, one thing we try to do is build a lot of mental toughness,” Patricia said. “I think that’s part of the game and something we’re all about. For us, it’s really important to get the things that were wrong fixed as soon as possible. Try to get those mistakes cleaned up so they don’t happen again and push forward to get ready to play another really good opponent.”
The Lions don’t have long to right the ship. The track record of teams starting the season with two losses and recovering to make the playoffs is slim, at best. The team has one fewer day than normal to prepare for this weekend's West Coast trip to San Francisco to battle the 49ers.