Defense has always been Matt Patricia’s calling card. But in Week 1, the Lions’ defense was nothing you’d want to call home about, giving up a big fourth quarter lead to the Bears en route to a season-opening defeat.
Was it as bad as it looked? And how will their banged-up secondary fare against Aaron Rodgers and company? To find out, we talked with Pride of Detroit’s Mike Payton about that defensive collapse. And to get caught up on what happened with the Lions offense, check out part one of our Q&A.
APC: The Lions had a somewhat noteworthy late-game collapse against Mitchell Trubisky in Week 1. How worried are you? Was it as bad as it seems from the outside?
MP: It’s a major concern for the Lions. This has been their biggest issue since Matt Patrica has come to town. The team is very good at getting the lead. They had the lead in nearly every game last season. But then they lost in the fourth quarter of seven of those games. Now here we are in 2020 and it seems like no lessons have been learned.
Matt Patricia got a bit prickly when asked about the Bears comeback. Is there any truth to the idea that his coaching decisions have put the Lions in vulnerable positions?
Absolutely. He’s 9-23-1 as the Lions head coach and a very bad start shows that there’s a chance that record could get worse before it gets better. Right now it’s hard to believe that he will be in Detroit in 2021.
Trey Flowers had a very solid Week 1 game, recording a sack and a forced fumble. What do you think he’s capable of in 2020? Are you satisfied with the return on investment so far?
The Lions struggle when it comes to rushing the passer. But Trey Flowers has been a lone bright spot on the defensive line. He’s held up his end of the bargain since coming to Detroit, but he sorely needs help. Flowers is not the type of guy that can take over the game by himself.
The Lions’ secondary looks a bit banged up. How bad is the damage and is it going to be a big concern heading into Sunday?
It’s a major concern. Earlier this week the Lions sent Justin Coleman to the IR. That leaves a big hole in the nickel slot. On top of that, Desmond Trufant has managed to cheat a major injury, but he has not practiced this week and will more than likely be out Sunday. The Lions will have to rely on Amani Oruwariye, Darryl Roberts and the rookie Jeff Okudah against one of the best quarterbacks to ever do it. It’s scary.
Jeff Okudah was considered one of the true gems of the 2020 draft class. What do you think he can contribute as a rookie, especially with little to no acclimation period given the pandemic-shortened camp?
This is more than likely going to be a learning season for Okudah. At least that may have been the original idea. It looks like injuries are going to thrust him into a larger role earlier than planned. I have no doubt that Okudah will be a very good player someday. His work ethic and willingness to learn is second to none. But I predict there will be some growing pains first.
What do you predict will happen on Sunday?
The Lions always seem to give the Packers a hard time. I don’t think Sunday is any different. Sadly for Lions fans, I predict the Packers will come from behind in the fourth quarter and win the game. Lions fans will go through another hard week as they count the days to the next head coach search in January.