Dan Campbell has been the head coach of the Detroit Lions for 21 games so far. Record wise, it hasn’t been that great. He’s only coached the Lions to four wins thus far. It’s understandable how the Lions got here based on where they are in the rebuild. Still, there are some really nice signature wins in there for Campbell. A win over the Packers and an upset win over the Cardinals certainly highlight Campbell’s resume in Detroit.
I know that nobody likes to use the term “must-win game” this early in the season. While the Lions’ loss to the Seahawks in Week 4 seemed like the end of the world, there’s still a ton of football left to plays. With that in mind, Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots presents a slew of different factors that say this is in fact a must-win game for the Lions.
First of all, there’s a fork in the road for this team right now. Nobody is going to get fired if the Lions lose this game. But you have to believe that if a checklist of reasons to fire a coach was being kept, another bad loss and a 1-4 start is, at the very least, one tick on the board. 1-3 isn’t the end of the season for the Lions, but 1-4 is just so much worse going into the bye.
That’s not why this game is so important, though. Everyone knows why this game is so important. It’s not because of the coach on the Lions sideline, it’s because of one of the coaches on the other sideline. Of course, we’re talking about former Lions head coach and current Patriots
offensive coordinator senior football advisor/offensive line coach Matt Patricia.
I can’t speak for every Lions fan in the world, but I would be willing to bet my life savings, which is currently not very much at all, that when Lions fans got a hold of the schedule, they circled this game and wrote “revenge” next to it.
Matt Patricia’s run with the Lions represents one of the worst—if not the worst—eras in Lions history. You look at this guy and you’re reminded about the Darius Slay and Quandre Diggs trades. You’re reminded of that humiliating Monday night loss to the Jets, the embarrassing time he yelled a local reporter, how he never admitted to a mistake and how his regime tore down the Lions to the bare studs before getting fired mid-season. You remember that picture if Sheila Hamp holding her head in her hands on Thanksgiving day. Plain and simple, Matt Patricia is public enemy number one in Detroit.
That is precisely why the Lions need to beat him. I once compared Patricia to Thanos in an article, the Lions need to be The Avengers this weekend. By hook or by crook, the Lions need to win this game. Even if it means that Dan Campbell has to steal Patricia’s infinity gauntlet and snap his fingers until he himself has three toes and one ass cheek. They need to win this game.
A loss in this game represents something far worse than just having a 1-4 record. It’ll likely be the loss that kills any esteem that surrounds this Lions team. The confidence will be gone. You couldn’t beat the guy that hurt Lions fans so much.
Lions fans will turn on Campbell if this game goes sideways. A 1-4 start is bad enough in Year 2 with a somewhat light schedule to start the year. Throw in a loss to Patricia—while having a defense just as bad as the one he left here—and most, if not all, of the good will Campbell has gotten could be gone.
I’m not saying that a loss here ends everything for Campbell, but it will put things severely behind the eight ball. Campbell and company will likely be put into a situation where they’re going to have earn trust and respect back from Lions fans. They’ll have turn things around in a hurry to make people forget that the Lions allowed Thanos to wipe out half the universe’s population. I certainly wouldn’t envy anyone who has to be in that position.