With a last-second field goal on Saturday afternoon, the Detroit Lions upset the Arizona Cardinals 26-23 in a road win for the franchise’s first win.
Matt Patricia‘s seat as Head Coach of the Detroit Lions has been fire engine red-hot dating back to last season. Before Sunday’s win over the Cardinals, it’d been over eleven months since the franchise last tasted victory.
Thanks to a turnover-ridden performance at the hand of Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray, those flames have momentarily reduced. The organization can spend the next week celebrating getting the monkey off their backs while preparing to host a fading New Orleans Saints team this coming weekend.
Amongst an increasingly displeased Lions fanbase, it’s been widely expected that Matt Patricia would be dismissed from his perch overseeing one of the NFL’s traditionally morbid franchises by the time the team’s bye soared around during the league’s Week 5 slate of games.
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Thanks to Murray’s miscues (3 INT’s) and the incredible leg-driving spectacle of Detroit kicker Matt Prater (4/4 FG’s: 39, 35, 24, 37), it seems that the coach will continue leading his flock into what for now looks to be a weaker stretch of the team’s schedule with upcoming games against New Orleans, Jacksonville, and Atlanta.
The defense has regularly been a problem for all three upcoming opponents so far this season, and the Lions are no exception.
However, for the first time under Matt Patricia, the unit was able to force multiple turnovers during a game on interceptions by newcomers Jeff Okudah, Duron Harmon, and Jamie Collins.
The team spent this win playing less man-coverage defense against the Cardinals than in weeks passed.
This leads to the question of whether Patricia’s scheme change is a result of trying to stop the mobile-Murray, or if this coach is actually wising up and beginning to tinker with his predictable playcalling.
Either way, one shakes it, it might all be a little too late if the team can not continue building upon this newfound success in the coming weeks. Transitioning over to the other side of the ball, the Lions offense also proved to be a critical factor in the victory.
Realizing the defense’s weaknesses, Patricia and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell cooked up a game plan to control the clock and increase the number of running plays called in order to keep the game moving and the defense off of the field.
The decision put less pressure on quarterback Matthew Stafford, who at this point in his career is better suited to win as a “game-manager” instead of being expected to walk away victorious in a gunslinger-like shootout.
Also, it gave Patricia’s questionable defense a moment to breathe at times on Sunday and re-collect themselves in the rollercoaster-like victory.
Although his hot seat has cooled, Patricia will not benefit too much from this victory. It’s his third season at the helm, and has now just surpassed the win total from his predecessor Jim Cadwell’s final season in Detroit.
It’s still entirely possible that he could find himself unemployed by the beginning of next week if Drew Brees returns to his former glory and the Saints wind-up blowing out the Lions at Ford Field on Sunday.
It’s honestly a wait-and-see decision at this point, while Sheila Hamp-Ford and her family celebrate a move into the win column for the first time this season. Let’s let the ownership group, fanbase, front office, and team enjoy this brief victory before reality snaps-back-in and forces the franchise to re-evaluate its current position in the weeks that lay ahead.
For at least one week, the Detroit Lions are winners.