DETROIT - What's Matt Patricia supposed to say at this point? If the Lions coach had the answers to what's ailing his team after dropping 11 consecutive games and squandering four straight double-digit leads, he'd incorporate them into his game plans, not share them via the media.
For the better part of three years, Patricia has preached the importance of consistency. But the only consistency around these parts has been disappointment. Naturally, you'd expect that would lead to some soul-searching, some deep reflection on the process of weekly preparation.
And while both Patricia and first-year defensive coordinator Cory Undlin both praised a question regarding the thing that needed to change in their preparation coming off the across-the-board dismantling at the hands of the Green Bay Packers last Sunday, their answers didn't provide any hopeful insight.
"I definitely always look at myself and what I have to prepare better and things that I can do," Patricia said. "There's certainly things in there that I like to change up when we have weeks like this - whether it's in the team meetings, maybe it's individually in the positions rooms or in either of the three phases, from a meeting room standpoint. I might have a little different point of emphasis, might have a little bit more pressure in the meeting rooms to understand the information ahead of time, and then obviously, when we get out on the practice field, making sure that the level of urgency and execution at the practice field is at the highest level. We got to go out. We got to work today. We got to get some things fixed. So that's what we're going to do."
But the urgency has always been high for Patricia, and anyone who has seen the team practice under his stewardship knows they go hard. That's part of his core philosophical belief after all - that if practice is the most difficult thing you do all week, the game will be easy.
Of course, games have been anything but easy. Despite looking so good for stretches, like the defense for the first three quarters of the season opener or the offense during the first quarter in Green Bay, the Lions have rarely found that four-quarter consistency Patricia desires. And it's been more elusive week to week.
Patricia's message this week has been centered around not riding the emotional waves of a game. It's not a new message for professional athletes, just another way of emphasizing the importance of remaining even-keeled, not getting too high or too low. He wants his team staying in the moment, as opposed to looking ahead or lingering on a previous play, good or bad.
There's nothing wrong with the message, but it's troubling that these Lions are having issues with it.
"I don't think I'm surprised because I think that we've played two games together," Patricia said. "We tried to do the best we could with the virtual world. But then into a condensed training camp, it's going to be this way in September. I think we've talked about that before.
"We need time as a group to work together. Certainly from a team standpoint, whereas much as we try to teach all of the phases, when you get into the actual game and now all three phases are actually working together on the field for the first time, or for this week would be only the third time, we do understand there's going to be some things that are going to be corrected. For us, we just have to keep making the points of emphasis to improve it and to get it better and try not to make the same mistakes."