Free Press sports writer Carlos Monarrez answers three questions after the Detroit Lions' 26-23 win over the Cardinals in Arizona on Sunday:
What does this win mean for Matt Patricia’s future?
The villagers, and some coumnists, were already brandishing pitchforks and torches on their way to the castle to demand the firing of the Lions’ coach after an 0-2 start. But Sunday's 26-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, earned in convincing fashion with all three phases working well, showed everyone that the Lions aren’t hopeless. It took the heat off Patricia and it almost certainly guarantees he won’t be fired during the season. Owners almost never want to fire coaches during the season, especially so early. I imagine a good win like this on the road means Patricia will get the benefit of the doubt from Sheila Ford Hamp the rest of the year. The Lions should see several more wins over the next eight games as their schedule gets easier against teams such as Jacksonville and Washington. After the season, who knows? But for the rest of this season, like it or not, Patricia should be safe.
How did the Lions pull this off after looking so bad the first two games?
Two reasons. They actually weren’t as bad as they looked. The loss to the Bears was a fluke caused by injuries and D’Andre Swift’s big drop. The Green Bay loss was bad, but the Lions were still dealing with injuries and were playing a good team on the road. Against Arizona, the Lions played a great, three-phase game. The defense contained Kyler Murray and finally came up big with some overdue turnovers. The offense got contributions from everyone. Seriously, who knew Jesse James was still on the team? A lot of that credit goes to the coaches and specifically to Patricia for staying true to his defensive scheme and allowing some yards but not huge plays. And let’s not forget that if Sam Martin didn’t kick a partially blocked 11-yard punt, the Lions also would have beaten Murray and Arizona last year.
The Lions looked good. But what is their true potential?
They have enough potential to be in playoff contention. Two reasons: Matthew Stafford and the rookies. The stat sheet will tell you Stafford played great. He completed 71% of his passes, threw two touchdown passes and had a 119.0 passer rating. But if you watched the game closely, you know he missed several easy-to-not-too-difficult throws. He keeps throwing behind Danny Amendola and he missed receivers in the end zone twice on one drive that resulted in a field goal. Then there are rookies such as D’Andre Swift and Jeff Okudah. Both continue to show promise, but they remain shaky and a little lost on the field. That’s what no preseason and a crazy offseason does for you. If Stafford can get dialed in a little more and the rookies continue to improve, the Lions will get stronger and could peak as the season progresses.
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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions' upset of Cardinals means Matt Patricia won't be axed