Rogers and Niyo talk about Detroit's latest embarrassing loss while trying to figure out where the season is supposed to go from here. Justin Rogers, The Detroit News
Allen Park — Sunday’s loss to one-win Washington might someday be viewed as a turning point in the Matt Patricia era where things went from very bad to even worse for this Lions era.
But on Monday at the team's headquarters, the coach went with a familiar refrain when asked again about the prognosis as Year 2 continues to sputter along.
“I’m always disappointed when we don’t win,” Patricia said just about exactly 24 hours after a 19-16 loss. “I think everybody that knows me knows how competitive I am, and that’s what we’re trying to do. “I also know that this is a process. I know there’s a lot in play here that we’re going through, and we’re trying to build, and we’re trying to do the best we can to improve and get better.”
At 3-7-1 with losses in seven of their last eight games, the progress of the process is not readily evident — if it exists at all. The word ‘process’ has turned from common cliche to popular punchline for wayward franchises, an attempt to reassure fan bases that there will be some turning point in the future to better days down the road.
But for this year, there’s still five games of football to be played, plus the Thanksgiving game is a tradition in this town. So, it seems the Lions fully intend to finish strong, starting in Thursday's rematch with the Chicago Bears (5-6).
While angst and apathy build outside Allen Park, everything was business as usual inside the locker room as the media was able to cross examine a couple leaders to take their temperature on where things stand.
Safety Tavon Wilson and linebacker Devon Kennard dutifully vouched for their coach and agreed that better days are still somewhere on the horizon.
“We’re better in a lot of different aspects (from the beginning of the year),” Wilson said. “Our overall football knowledge of the game, understanding the whole concept of the game. As a team, I think we’re better.”
Kennard allowed his frustration to shine through some, expressing how he hates to lose and how good a win Thursday would feel.
“I’m tired of losing, quite frankly,” Kennard said. “I’m not a loser, I refuse to accept that. So whatever we got to do to fix that, and I think the guys in the locker room are with me.”
Kennard also pointed out some defensive improvements as of late, singling out a rushing defense that has held its last three opponents to an average of 80.7 yards on the ground.
“It’s been encouraging that we’ve done some things better the last few weeks,” he said. “We need to continue to build upon that and take even bigger steps this week and moving forward.”
After Sunday, one blessing of Thanksgiving week is it’s short. While injuries issues are plentiful — quarterback Jeff Driskel joined Matthew Stafford on the injury report Monday, among 12 played listed as ‘limited’ or ‘no practice’ in a projection on if there actually was a practice — the Lions will take the trade-off to get out there again Thursday.
“With a game coming up, obviously you can get over those things a little easier,” Wilson said. “You got an opportunity to go out there in a few days and try it again.”
There are questions about the future for Patricia already and for general manager Bob Quinn, in his fourth year. Another loss to Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears this week on national television could make them deafeaning.
But the message coming from the organization faces forward, finding lights in the dark, assuring that brick by brick, something is being built.
“It’s one-week seasons for us,” Patricia said. “On top of that, we’re looking at other things as far as the development of some of the younger players and the guys that are out there and just how those — even the guys that have been around for a while are improving and going through and learning and improving. “For us, it’s just part of the process as we go forward.”
Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.