Glendale, Ariz. — Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia faced his fair share of criticism, particularly nationally, when he had his team practicing in a steady snow a few weeks back, prior to three straight home games under the Ford Field dome and the contest in typically sunny Arizona.
But Patricia expressed some vindication after Sunday's 17-3 win, when the shoddy field conditions in Arizona forced the Lions to focus on fundamentals — footwork and balance — comparative to when players were working through slippery conditions on the outdoor fields at the team’s practice facility in Allen Park last month.
“Sort of something we had seen on tape and knew, as the game went on, it would get worse,” Patricia said. ‘It looked pretty good when we got out there. Again, we just got to deal with it and handle the situation and move forward with it. I thought the guys did a good job with that, just understanding we’ve got to play good, fundamental football.
"We had opportunities, again, like I mentioned before, to practice in some bad conditions and work on some techniques and fundamentals, footwork and just that good, solid football position. Here it showed up. You just never know when that’s going to come up.”
Defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois, without being prompted, echoed the importance the snow practices played in preparing the Lions for Arizona’s field, which was patchy minutes into the game and caused footing issues for both clubs.
“Let me take it back to the day we practice outside in the snow. That’s the type of game it was, keeping your feet underneath you,” Jean Francois said. “I always learned from Matty P, everything he does, there’s a method to his madness. It might not show then, but eventually it’s going to show. It’s going to eventually show why he had you doing something. Most people want to find out right now. People don’t want to wait.”
The Lions struggled with their balance throughout the first half, despite anticipating the field could get sloppy and slippery. Players were told to gauge their cleats during pregame warm-ups but many found themselves switching to longer cleats prior to or at halftime.
“You’re always trying to get the best footwork you can,” Patricia said.
Detroit also had a number of injuries during the contest, officially losing five players during the course of the game, with multiple others leaving the game for various stretches of time. Jean Francois said the conditions weren’t exclusively the cause of the issues but didn’t help.
“They’ve got to get on that field,” he said. “You pay too much money for a stadium like this to have grass that bad. I’m just saying, if you’re going to spend billions, you might as well cover everything.”