'You can’t let it bother you': Lions assistants Stewart, White try to ignore speculation about future
Allen Park — Matt Patricia will be back with the Detroit Lions next season, but only with the understanding he'll be making changes to his coaching staff at the end of the current campaign.
In the absence of concrete information, it's easy to look to struggling position groups when trying to determine which coaches might be on thin ice. The defensive staff appears particularly vulnerable after allowing opponents to average more than 400 yards and 26 points through the first 14 games. Detroit's pass defense has been particularly bad, allowing opposing quarterbacks to rack up a 102.5 passer rating with 30 touchdowns and a league-low six interceptions.
It's difficult to determine how the blame should be divided between the pass rush and coverage, given both have fallen short this season, but the results put defensive backs coach Brian Stewart in the conversation of assistants who merit a closer evaluation after the season.
Stewart, who has nearly three decades of coaching experience, isn't thinking about his future with the franchise, instead focusing on the more immediate future of getting his guys ready to play the Broncos this Sunday.
"I'm a head-down type of guy," Stewart said. "I want to beat the Denver Broncos. I want to go to Mile High and play well, not just for myself, but for them. Day in and day out, doing the things that they've done and what we've asked them to do, from lifting, meetings, extra meeting time, all those types of things, they deserve to win. To me, that's my main purpose, to get them to play well, get them to play at a high level, get better and win games."
Stewart credited his tightly knit family, lead by wife Kimberly, for keeping him grounded when his future might otherwise seem uncertain.
"Main thing she does, she keeps the kids and myself focused on the love of each other first," Stewart said. "Everything else comes after that. When I say that, she treats me well. My daughters, they're always rooting (for me). They're upset when we lose and happy when we win."
On the opposite side of the ball, tight ends coach Chris White faces similar questions about the job he's done the past two years. The Lions have overhauled the position in back-to-back years, with minimal returns.
"We’re in our little cocoon," White said when asked about his job security. "You go home and your wife is asking, she knows more about it than you do. She said, ‘I heard this,’ or ‘I read this on the internet.’ You can’t let it bother you, you can’t read all that stuff. Speculation and stuff like that. You just have to do you have your job that you’re assigned to do."
Football is a brutal business. Players are cut every day and coaches are fired every year. It's a certainty the Lions are going to look different next season, both the coaching staff and the roster. What that means for White, Stewart and others remains to be seen. All they can do is continue to put forth their best effort down the stretch and hope, like their boss, they'll get another year to turn things around.