Allen Park — The Detroit Lions' defense is giving up an unfathomable amount of yardage, but the thing irking coach Matt Patricia more than anything coming out of Sunday's loss to the Dallas Cowboys is the team's penalty woes.
"Obviously, we want to do the best we can here to clean up the things that are just not really helping us win, things that are getting in the way," Patricia said. "Certainly, we have to take a look at it on tape and make sure we see it and understand it, so that we can hopefully eliminate it. I think that’s the biggest thing right now for us, and probably penalties would be the No. 1 issue for us. We spent a lot of time on that here right now."
Of the 101 penalties the Lions have committed this season, 81 have been accepted for 631 yards. Against Dallas, the team was penalized a season-high 11 times for 89 yards.
"I’d say the top category for all three phases right now is holding, so whether it’s offensive, defensive holding or offensive holding in the return game," Patricia said. "I think part of that for us right now is things we need to be more disciplined on. I think there are some things in there with our hand placement, our footwork, our technique that we really have to coach a lot better right now, and make sure that we don’t get undisciplined with that stuff."
Patricia wouldn't say whether continued penalty woes could lead to reduced playing time for certain players.
Left tackle Taylor Decker leads the Lions with nine penalties, including six holds, while cornerback Justin Coleman is pacing the defense with eight.
Defensive penalties have contributed to 30 first downs, while offensive penalties have stalled out 25 drives.
In recent weeks, broadcast cameras have captured Patricia looking a play sheet and talking into his headset, leading many to believe he had taken over play-calling duties on defense.
That's not the case, according to Patricia. Asked directly if he's taken more of the reins in recent weeks, Patricia would only say his play-calling role has increased and decreased depending on the game.
"My role, really, on game day it differs game by game," Patricia said. "So, some games it’s been more, some games it’s been less, and that’s been consistent throughout the season."
Patricia has often said he prefers to maintain involvement in all three phases of the game. But on Sunday, he could be seen on multiple occasions turning his back to the field while the offense was operating, spending that time specifically addressing the defensive unit.