Matt Patricia: Lions' woeful record 'not what we are'
Minneapolis — It's one of the most famous quotes in NFL history, originally said by Bill Parcells and repeated by dozens of coaches since. It simply states, "You are what your record says you are."
Everything in football, every snap and every stat, boils down to wins and losses. Well, and a tie, in the case of the 2019 Detroit Lions. Regardless, that's the only currency that matters in the league.
But bucking the wisdom of his mentor's mentor, Lions coach Matt Patricia said his team's 3-9-1 mark through 13 games is not representative of who the Lions are.
"The hard thing for us and what I appreciate about this team is we don't look at our record and say that is what we are," Patricia said after his team was laid to rest by the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, 20-7.
"I think we look at our record and say that's not what we are and we gotta do better. And we try to figure out how to get the record to match up with what we are."
That statement, whether it's a genuine belief or a psychological tactic to keep his locker room's morale afloat down the stretch, did seem to resonate with some of the players who were asked about Patricia's comments.
"We aren't," safety Tracy Walker said. "It all goes back to what I said before. We're beating ourselves. We can go out there and compete with the best, but we have to stop beating ourselves."
Coming into Sunday, before the team was thoroughly outplayed by the Vikings, there were plenty of underlying metrics that suggested the Lions have more than three wins. They were one of only three teams that had led in every game through 12 contests. They were near the top of the league in first-quarter scoring. And they rarely trailed games by double digits.
Look at the other leaders in those categories and you'll find a bunch of teams in line for postseason berths.
But for a number of reasons, the Lions have been unable to finish close games and have now dropped six straight. For fans, Patricia's consistent message of hard work, toughness and will to fight probably sounds like a broken record. But the players continue to see the validity of their coach's repetitious words.
"The message may be the same week after week, but that doesn't mean it's not valid," offensive tackle Taylor Decker said "I don't think it's lost any validity in that aspect."
With three games remaining, there's no outward signs of a locker room fracturing, with each other or their coach. The attitude remains the same as it did in Week 1, focusing on effort and improvement in search of victories.
"It's frustrating, but at the end of the day, I can't sit here and be like, 'Oh, we suck and I'm just going to throw in (the towel) on the rest of the season,'" Walker said. "No, I'm going to prepare for the next team and continue to push.
"At the end of the day, you win some and you lose some, but it's all about how you approach the following week. You can either give up and let other teams run all over you or you can continue to fight. I'm choosing to fight, so that's what I'm going to do."
The Lions had several players leave Sunday's loss with injuries, but most, including linebacker Jarrad Davis, were able to return to action. Among those who didn't return were Walker, running back Bo Scarbrough and right tackle Rick Wagner.
Scarbrough, who was announced as having a rib injury, and Walker both stated confidence they would be able to play next week against Tampa Bay.