“It’s a mix of dread and impatience.”
That’s how I described my own feeling two hours before kickoff between the Detroit Lions and the Jacksonville Jaguars. With unsubstantiated reports that head coach Matt Patricia was literally coaching for his job on Sunday, we were all staring down the barrel of a full rebuild.
While I certainly shared the sentiment that that may be exactly what this team needed, the thought of taking another two seasons to get back to competitiveness, while potentially watching Matthew Stafford play in a different uniform, made my stomach churn.
So I as awaited the game that I predicted the Lions to lose, I was uneasy, impatient, and honestly, a little mad that things had come to this so quickly in the season.
By the end of the day, it’s safe to say I was feeling a little better.
Lions vs. Jaguars Song of the Game: “New Born” by Muse
Muse lead singer Matthew Bellamy kicks off this high-intensity song with a tone that almost seems like he’s scorning the listener—at the top of the album, no less. He’s pissed that things aren’t alright, and he’s about to do something about it.
The love for what you hide
The bitterness inside
Is growing like the new born
When you’ve seen, seen
Too much, too young, young
Soulless is everywhere
Going into Week 6, it’s fair to say Lions fans had enough of Matt Patricia’s shit, to put bluntly. He entered this game with 96 percent of Lions fans disapproving of the job he was doing. Fans were sick of hearing the excuses, were understandably mocking some of the weird things he was saying, and just ready to start talking Eric Bieniemy or whoever the savior of the week was. The bitterness was boiling over. And then... kickoff.
The haunting opening of “New Born” slows to a crawl about 80 seconds into the song. Then Muse cranks it to 11 with a distorted guitar riff that builds to a crescendo leading to involuntary head banging.
From the opening kickoff to the final whistle, the Lions mopped the floor with the Jaguars. It was never close. It was never in question. It was an ass kicking of the highest order.
It’s almost like Patricia heard it all. He heard the frustrations about not sending enough blitzes. He heard the complaints of Will Harris and Jarrad Davis getting too much playing time, and D’Andre Swift not getting enough. He still held onto his core beliefs—the Lions ran the ball and stopped the run on Sunday—but this was as close to a compromise as we’ve gotten from Patricia since Day 1.
You can’t come down to earth
You’re swelling up, you’re unstoppable
Every fan of every NFL team does this. They come off a big win, they look back on some missed opportunities, and they think, “This team may be better than their record shows.” If Swift catches that pass, the Lions are 3-2 and just a game behind the Packers. And with a favorable schedule ahead, maybe they catch them anyways. Wins cure all, and even with all of the context of a bad Jaguars team and Detroit’s hopeless performances in Weeks 2 and 4, it’s hard not to get swept up in at least some optimism that this could work.
But we’ve been fooled before. In all three of Matt Patricia’s seasons in Detroit, he’s provided us with tangible hope just around the time the leaves start changing colors. In 2018, the Lions had an eerily-similar win over the Miami Dolphins that pushed the Lions to 3-3 and had many believing Patricia was The Guy. In 2019, the Lions were 2-2-1 after Week 6 and fans were making somewhat rational arguments that, with the right breaks, they could’ve been undefeated at that point.
We all know what happened next, though. In 2018, they lost seven of their last 10. In 2019. it was nine straight losses to close the season.
Destroy the spineless, show me it’s real
Wasting our last chance to come away
Just break the silence
‘Cause I’m drifting away, away from you
Matt Patricia, show me it’s real. Show me this wasn’t the case of the Jaguars being horrible more so than your vision actually working. There were legitimate signs of progress on Sunday, but I can’t ignore some warning signs, too. The guard rotation may be back. The pass offense still isn’t firing on all cylinders, and the secondary is still a big work in progress.
You’ve got everything working in your favor going forward, Matt. Four of your next six opponents currently have a record of 1-5. Keep the intensity up, keep going for it on fourth down, and don’t play down to the opponent. Destroy the spineless. Show me it’s real. Because this is still your last chance.