Rogers and Wojo break down Detroit's decision to trade Golden Tate and the team's upcoming matchup with the Minnesota Vikings. Justin Rogers, The Detroit News
Allen Park — It wouldn't be Thursday without a Detroit Lions mailbag.
TJ Jones or Roberts in the slot? Who fields the punts and KOs now?— Pranav (@porbandar123) November 1, 2018
There isn't going to be a one-to-one replacement for Golden Tate's snaps or production in the slot. It's going to be shared by multiple players, but the one who stands to benefit the most in the immediate future is TJ Jones.
When Kenny Golladay was banged up last year, Jones had a stretch where he averaged nearly 50 snaps. Contrast that to when Golladay has been healthy the past two seasons. In those games, Jones is playing closer to a dozen snaps per week.
Jones is alignment versatile and trusted by both offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter and quarterback Matthew Stafford. I'm sure rookie Brandon Powell will be sprinkled into the mix, with the potential to earn more playing time if he maximizes those opportunities, but Jones is the proverbial next man up.
As for return duties, the Lions seem to still be experimenting in search of the right mix, but Jones, Powell and Ameer Abdullah remain the front-runners.
Why is the run defense so terrible? Is it lack of execution, bad position, bad talent (losing position battle) or just overall scheme? Do you think it can be fixed? This seems to be the direct link to our wins and losses this year. Shut down the run and win, don’t and lose.— Jason Shipman (@jshippy10) November 1, 2018
I asked Matt Patricia earlier this week if the problems were consistent or a moving target. Here's a snippet of his response.
"I think some of it is consistent and then it goes away, and then maybe some things come back in those situations. There are definitely some different scheme plays that we’ll see week-in and week-out. Some of the things that have been reoccurring through the course of the season, some of those have settled down for us in that situation."
My assessment, from studying this team on the daily, they don't have enough talent to fit the scheme quite yet. With the addition of Damon Harrison, they've plugged the biggest hole, but they still need more consistent run defenders on the edge of the line and in the second level. And after watching the Seahawks linebackers, Detroit can only hope with a little more seasoning, Jarrad Davis' instincts get anywhere close to the level of Bobby Wagner or K.J. Wright.
When you look at the future (especially 2019-2020), how do you feel about this team with all the cap we’d have? Could we potentially make this defense very good to coexist with the offense and be a contender?— John McLopsid (@JohnMcLopsid) November 1, 2018
Leaning on outside cap sources, the Lions appear to have a little more than $40 million in cap space lined up for next season, but they'll carry some over from this year and have the potential to clear more, depending on what they do with veteran players such as T.J. Lang, Glover Quin, Theo Riddick and Sam Martin.
That kind of coin puts the Lions in good position to add a couple of quality free agents, which likely would be on the defensive side of the ball, but they'll also be in the market for a tight end (or two), slot receiver and potentially a guard, depending on what happens with Lang.
Which is more unprofessional: Caldwell's "I don't think you're qualified" or Patricia's "Respect the process" snipe?— D҉e҉r҉e҉k҉ (@steeztabor) November 1, 2018
OK, I've received a lot of questions on Patricia's criticism of a reporter on Wednesday, and while I'd prefer to ignore it, it's become national news, so I might as well add some context.
The media's job is to collect and share information and to hold the management of the organization accountable to the consumer of its product. Almost every day, we do those things by asking questions, with the most public setting being the press conferences with Patricia.
Question-asking is an art, which should be constantly evaluated and modified over time. You should aim to be clear, direct and professional. And while there can be a natural adversarial relationship between the media and the people they cover, it's best to try to operate within the sphere of mutual respect.
It's easy to lump the media into one big entity, but the reality is we're individuals doing our jobs in our own ways. I don't agree with the way all reporters do their jobs, and I'm sure some don't like the way I do mine. With the reporter who was criticized by Patricia, there's history there. It's clear, from this interaction and others, the two don't have much of that mutual respect. Patricia doesn't like the way this reporter asks his questions, and the reporter doesn't care for how Patricia answers him.
The criticism yesterday came at a strange time, making for national fodder. Was the reporter's posture poor? Who cares? We're not required to sit up straight. And maybe that reporter has a back issue. I don't know. It wasn't important, and made Patricia's comments feel personal. And it's not like the question was out of bounds, asking how the Golden Tate trade made the franchise better.
This was simply a moment of the straw breaking a camel's back, and a first-year coach still not fully grasping that he's talking to the thousands watching him at the podium less so than the reporter who asked the question. Patricia lost his cool because of frustrations extending beyond the moment with an individual who has gotten under his skin for months.
At one level, I'm empathetic to the human reaction. It's not easy being on a podium several times a week and having a dozen people picking apart your every decision. On the other hand, that's part of the job and Patricia lowered himself with the posture comments.
In the end, everyone loses. Fans have taken sides, with some attacking Patricia and others attacking the media, because there's a fractured professional relationship between two individuals that might not ever get fixed.
If the Lions don't use all of their cap space this year do they lose it? Or can some be used for next year ?— JayTee (@jtobin920) November 1, 2018
Good question, Jay. There's a one-year carryover. So whatever the Lions don't use this season, it will roll over to 2019.
What matchups favor us vs. Vikings?— Parth Brooks (@ParthVenkat) November 1, 2018
I'd give Detroit's defensive line, particular the interior, the advantage over Minnesota's offensive line. I'd also say the Lions receivers hold a slight edge over the Vikings corners, but it's razor thin after the Tate trade.
What happened to our physical offensive line on Sunday? We manhandled the Dolphins but our butts kicked by the Seahawks. Have they looked good because other defenses aren't physical e.g. Packers, Pats?— Lionsfan860 (@Welter06410) November 1, 2018
The Lions got out-physicaled by the Seahawks defense. As noted above, the Seattle linebackers are fantastic and difference-makers. I also came away impressed with second-year safety Tedric Thompson, who looks like he's going to be a very good player.
Seattle dominated up front, shutting down the run game and getting decent pass-rush pressure, while their back end did a nice job disguising coverages, taking away most of Matthew Stafford's deeper reads, and forcing Detroit to lean on the check-down passing game.
Why haven’t we seen the Lenzy Pipkins on the field yet?— CSteele_Austim Dad (@curtissteele14) November 1, 2018
Because he's behind Teez Tabor and Nevin Lawson on the depth chart.
Early to judge, but do you expect OC or DC changes for next season? I don't think anybody would mind both going.— Joe Sailus (@JoeSailus) November 1, 2018
Yeah, way too early to judge. But if things do go south with Tate gone, Jim Bob Cooter will be on the hot seat, for sure. This is a guy that Patricia inherited, and the options were limited because of how late he took the job.
When the coach hired in, he told me that he wouldn't be able to fully shape his staff in the first offseason. So you can be certain there will be changes this winter, it's just a matter of how many.
Why aren't the Lions considering Dez Bryant?— Kevin C (@thekevincollard) November 1, 2018
Because the Lions are very much a team-first organization under Patricia, and Dez Bryant has a knack for making himself the story.
I have heard of something called Superman ice cream that's out in Michigan. Does it live up to the hype, or is it just another thing Michiganders blow out of proportion like their square pizza? #bestcoast#westside— Harry (@503LionsFan) November 1, 2018
You can't knock locals for being proud of their products. Superman ice cream, which is a swirl of blue moon, cherry and lemon flavors, is fine, but it's more of a kid's thing.
And you take back that square pizza comment. No one will besmirch Buddy's on my watch.
Is this GT trade essentially a white flag of surrender or is it just the fact that at least they get value for someone that they would've lost in FA and they believe in TJ and Brandon?— Anthony Armon (@ch0z3n1) November 1, 2018
No, it's not a white flag. The Lions aren't tanking the season. I prefer the softer viewpoint that they're acknowledging this isn't a Super Bowl roster and a third-round pick for Tate is maximizing value for a departing player.
Also, and I've tweeted about this, it gives the Lions the pick now, instead of relying on the NFL awarding them a compensation selection in 2020. The formula to determine compensatory picks is based on players signed in free agency, players lost in free agency and the performance of those players the first year with their new teams.
By trading Tate now, the Lions don't have to worry about their offseason spending offsetting his departure.
The Lions have utilized more two-back sets recently. Do you see this increasing in light of the Tate trade? The Patriots seem to use James Develin a lot as a comparison. Patricia likes this model? Harder to defend?— erichipplefan (@spleen95shortbr) November 1, 2018
Yeah, I could see it increasing slightly, with Theo Riddick, Ameer Abdullah and fullback Nick Bellore the potential beneficiaries, depending on the matchups.
Maybe it’s just me but I thought that Marvin’s restructuring was for an additional pickup. Do you think we’re just waiting somebody to be a surprise cut or just taking some additional space into next year?— SPLAQADELAPHANTE (@LLCoolJoeyJ) November 1, 2018
The Marvin Jones' contract restructure, which freed up more than $2 million just before the trade deadline, remains a mystery. And the only one who knows why the Lions did it is general manager Bob Quinn, and he's not talking.
If I was to speculate, reading the context clues, the Lions thought they had an opportunity to add another long-term piece at the deadline, but the deal never came to fruition.
Could Riddick be moved to be slot WR?— John Wallace-Howell (@JohnHowell77) November 1, 2018
Doubtful. Despite playing the position in Notre Dame years ago, Riddick's route tree doesn't cover many vertical options. He's thrived in the league as a matchup piece, because he's essentially uncoverable when working against a linebacker or safety coming out of the backfield.
If you start showing teams he's your slot guy, Riddick's quickness advantage is quickly negated lining up against nickel cornerbacks, who are better equipped to match the back's change-of-direction skills. That's doubly true if that defensive back knows Riddick isn't likely to beat him beyond 10 yards from the line of scrimmage.
Is it possible they sign Tate back in the spring? Tell him look go to the Eagles for the rest of the year and come back next year we get you squared away. Give him guaranteed money on a one or two year deal and let him retire a Lion. OK yes that is my little fantasy.— Shelly Karolev RMT (@SKarolev) November 1, 2018
What an interesting question and one I hadn't really considered. After all, Tate had said in recent days, he thought he and the Lions were moving closer to an extension.
Tate was well-liked here, and his performance never slipped. And, from everything I ever gathered talking to him, he enjoyed playing in Detroit. Obviously, the market will dictate those chances, but I don't think we can entirely rule it out.
With the departure of Golden Tate, a huge hole is left in the Lions locker room, not to mention the offense.— D.j.m@Youmacon I guess, maybe (@CallMeDjm) November 1, 2018
Who will be handling touchdown celebrations?
With Tate and Eric Ebron moving on, and sensing Patricia's disdain for celebratory theatrics, the days of the Lions' post-touchdown creativity might be dead. That's a big win for the old-school crowd who believes the pinnacle of touchdown celebrations was Barry Sanders handing the ball to the official.
Has Hand really been playing as good as his PFF ranking? The numbers they are giving him are some of the top in the league type numbers. If he is playing that well shouldn’t the common fan notice him more?— George Cousineau (@gctwit78) November 1, 2018
Hand has been outstanding this season. He's disruptive against both the run and the pass and has been a perfect scheme fit for Patricia's defense.
I've said this before, but the only concerning flaw is his functional strength, which is completely understandable for a rookie. He gets overwhelmed by double teams and will need to continue putting in the work in the weight room to improve in that area. Other than that, he's been a steal and one of Quinn's finest picks.