Lions Head Coach Matt Patricia Press Conference – Detroit News Watch

Opening statement: “Good afternoon. Obviously, a disappointing game last night that we weren’t able to close it out and finish it off the way we wanted to. We’re rolling through the film here and grinding it out today. A lot of corrections, a lot of adjustments, a lot of things to look at on tape here that we have to get fixed. I think there was some good football on tape, too. There were some positives from the game that we can build upon, but certainly, the goal for us is to win and to go out and execute for all four quarters. I think the guys did a good job of trying to prepare for the game and get ready to go. Certainly, it’s a long trip, and we have to go out there, and we have to perform. They did a good job through the meetings this morning and just understanding that this is a process that we go through to try to improve and get better and certainly we all had opportunities last night. It starts with me. I have to do a better job in a lot of those situations, just making sure that we execute better. I think there were a lot of plays on the field that we really could have had go the other way and things would have turned out differently. Our goal is to try to not put ourselves in those situations. Our goal is to go out and play good football for four quarters and not have to rely on a play that could go either way, or a 50-50 play to try to win. From that standpoint, we just have to keep pushing forward. We obviously have a huge week coming up; this is a great opponent coming in here. We have to learn from today, get our corrections right, and then turn the page and start studying again and get ready for the Chargers. We certainly have our work cut out for us from that standpoint. I’ll take any questions you guys have.”

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – SEPTEMBER 08: Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona Cardinals makes a reception against cornerback Justin Coleman #27 of the Detroit Lions during the second half of the NFL game at State Farm Stadium on September 08, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Lions and Cardinals tied 27-27. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

On if he was disappointed on the special teams performance: “I think generally with the team right now, we’re all disappointed, which is probably true because we didn’t come out with the win. I think there’s true statements there as far as special teams, some plays in there that we need to do a better job of overall. Penalties were a big part of last night in all three phases, special teams included. The return game for us – we have to do a better job with that. We had the turnover in the red (zone) area, which we were fortunate to keep that to a three-point-situation there, then obviously the blocked punt, which is a pretty critical situation in the game. We want to try to go down and pin them and put them on a long field and make them have to drive and go score with minimal time. Certainly, those are areas that – we can’t have plays like that and expect for the outcome to be the way we want it.”

On how he thought the team’s condition was at the end of the game: “I think we almost had 90 plays on either side of the ball, along with special teams, there’s a lot of plays in the heat and all the rest of it. I think conditioning for us is something that we build and go through. There were some good guys out there that we’re in really good shape and running around and playing fast and all the way through, and some guys that still need to work on some of their conditioning and repetitions. All of that goes into the factor of the early part of the NFL; it’s something I think we’ve talked about a lot with training camp and the minimal amount of practices that we get along with the repetitions that we actually take in the preseason games. It is a buildup process through the course of September where we’re trying to get guys acclimated to trying to play a full football game. We got caught in a situation where both sides of the ball played a lot of snaps, and that’s probably a lot more than what most teams did at this point this week. For us, we’re going to continue to work on it and keep pushing. I think the guys, like I said, for the most part, I think a lot of the guys out there were in really good shape and running around and pushing through, but it’s a lot of snaps. We have to cut down on the amount of snaps.”

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – SEPTEMBER 08: Quarterback Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions talks with his team in the huddle during the second half of the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on September 08, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Lions and Cardinals tied 27-27. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

On if DT Kevin Strong played so much in the fourth quarter to give other players a break: “He was slated to play a lot through the course of the game. He’s also a little bit of a different bigger body. He’s kind of an in-between bigger body which kind of gives us a little bit of different package, maybe, per se with him out on the field, especially in those situations where the ball is moving fast. It’s a different type of game when that happens. He was playing through in the rotation as far as that was concerned, but certainly as part of the things that we saw coming out of training camp. He played a lot in training camp, had a lot of good repetitions in training camp, and we thought he was in pretty good shape from that standpoint. He’d be able to go out and play fast.”

On if they backed off rushing the quarterback in the fourth quarter: “We definitely didn’t back off from a standpoint of play calls or anything like that, not at all. We know how dangerous he is. He’s obviously a great player, was a great college player and finished off the game really well last night. From that standpoint, though, they made some good adjustments. We tried to adjust and match some of the things they did – give credit to them, give credit to Larry Fitzgerald. He’s a Hall of Fame player for a reason. He made some pretty amazing plays and catches, and that’s what he does. Certainly, that got them going a little bit and gave them some great field positions to take advantage of. Really for us, it’s just coaching and execution. That’s the bottom line with it, as far as that’s concerned. All that has to be better in the fourth quarter, and we have to go out, and we have to find a way to win.”

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – SEPTEMBER 08: Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals snaps the football during the second half of the NFL game against the Detroit Lions at State Farm Stadium on September 08, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Lions and Cardinals tied 27-27. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

On what he thought of the offensive line’s performance, specifically T Taylor Decker: “They have two really good edge players. (Terrell) Suggs has been doing it for a long time, and Chandler Jones is one of the best in the league if not – he’s top one or two guys in the league in its entirety. Thought for the offensive line that was a big task in front of them. We tried to run the ball. Some of it was really good, we had some good plays in there especially late in the run game, and some were. The linebackers – (Jordan) Hicks is a really good linebacker. He had a couple free shots when he ran through there. (He) Read and diagnosed some of the plays pretty quickly and got through. Protection-wise some of it for us, trying to keep the width of the pocket with those two guys. They had some pretty good pass rush games, especially built up some of the protections that we had dialed up to get those guys where they were able to come inside and get into the middle of the pocket pretty quick off of some of those stunts, were pretty good on their end. They executed those really well. We just have to-it’s a full unit effort up front with the five offensive linemen. It may not always be the guy that’s lined up on you, may be different look, different scheme, different pressure. There was a lot of blitz packages last night, especially late in the game that they went to that created some different sort of one-on-one matchups that we had to deal with. All of that is part of the game, but part of the process of, I think I talk about it all the time, getting the offensive line to see everything through the same set of eyes so that everyone is on the same page. Everyone knows where their help is at, knows how to set, knows where to go on the defensive lineman and protect the pocket from inside out. Some of that we need to clean up.”

On if he rotated the guard position because it was a pregame plan or if it was for another reason: “No it was part of the plan as far as that’s concerned and just keep working those guys. We feel we have some depth there and we could use that to try to keep us fresh through the game, especially on the interior part of the offensive line there and be able to use those guys in different ways. That was part of the plan.”

On why he had DB Tracy Walker cover Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald: “We tried to mix some of the different coverages there and not make it always the same so that they could not get a beat on it. We had a couple of different guys on him through the course of the night that did a good job of finding him in those situation and obviously those were big plays downfield. I have a lot of confidence in Tracy. Tracy has done a great job through training camp and if you watch a lot of his one-on-one coverage drills as you guys have seen through camp and through the competition that we had with some of the players, some of the other teams that we brought in, he did a really good job on that stuff. There’s a marriage of rush and coverage that has to take place on a defense, especially when the ball is being thrown 40-yards downfield. There should be a little bit of duress in those situations, and Larry just does a great job of being able to bend to the ball, find it, and extend his arms, extend his hands. He’s got a amazing hands, and just being able to just pluck some of those balls out of the air. Those are hard situations; those are tough plays. We just have to keep working at them, but we did try to keep it moving from that aspect of it, so it wasn’t always the same look.”

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – SEPTEMBER 08: Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona Cardinals makes a 45 yard reception past defensive back Tracy Walker #21 of the Detroit Lions during overtime of the NFL game at State Farm Stadium on September 08, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Lions and Cardinals tied 27-27. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

On what he heard QB Matthew Stafford say after the late fourth-quarter timeout and how players build trust with their head coach: “I don’t think any of that is really an issue. We have a great trust relationship, so I don’t think that’s kind of a story. It’s a raw emotion of probably the situation. I think all of us obviously understand what that play is, and we can dive into that play as much as we want to. The fact is we called the timeout because the clock was running down. The mechanics of how that works with the officials and to see the play clock go to zero and then know that there is a slight pause, but we really don’t know what the hundredth of a second looks like because we don’t really have that ability on the play clock. It’s better to be in a third-and-five then a third-and-10. There are a lot more plays in the game that come up after that play, and even before that play that could have made a difference. It’s never one play. It’s certainly just one of those plays that’s out there that you look at and say, ‘Oh, well that would’ve been a great way to end it right here.’ It isn’t, and we have to line up in the next play and just get lined up and go. That’s what we do. It’s a next play mentality, and we have to keep executing all the way through. For us, we’re not relying on just the one play; it was a series of events. We missed the next one and then we had the punt blocked and the rest of it from that standpoint.”

On how much he trusts QB Matthew Stafford: “To sum it up, like 1,000 percent. It’s too long of a conversation. I think through the course of multiple different conversations and media sessions and all the rest of it – I think everybody knows how highly I think of him and trust him, so there is no issue there.”

On his evaluation of TE T.J. Hockenson and how they can keep him playing at the same level: “That’s the big challenge. Obviously, he had a big night. He had some really good plays, and I think he did a good job in both the run and the pass game. There are a couple good blocks in there too, which is good for a player like that. It’s the first game, and we certainly know that goes through the course of the NFL season and guys take a look at it and defensive coordinators will obviously recognize that. It becomes more difficult as the season goes on and we’re going to have to do different things to keep him productive from that standpoint. He did have a really good night from that standpoint, production-wise. There was some really good route-running. A lot of those plays though, when you look at them are set up through – whether it’s play action or run plays, or different sort of other looks that complemented those plays. Maybe give credit to the previous couple of plays and the previous couple of looks, too. As that all ties together, I think that’s important from that standpoint. It always becomes very difficult afterwards when someone has a performance like that with everybody else in the League taking notice, too. Certainly, I do the same thing from my perspective if I see that from an offensive player. It makes it a little bit more complicated as you go forward.”

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – SEPTEMBER 08: TJ Hockenson #88 of the Detroit Lions celebrates with Danny Amendola #80 after catching a touchdown pass during the fourth quarter of a game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on September 08, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

On if he has a benchmark for where QB Matthew Stafford can attempt a ‘Hail Mary’ pass from: “Yup, we do. We know about where the range is, where we have to get to in order to kind of launch it downfield. He’s got a very strong arm. So, we’re confident in that end of it, but we’re trying to get those chunk plays and get down in to a good position. You certainly don’t want to – the further it is, the more he has to hold the ball, the longer the time of the play, so you’re trying to get down as close as possible in those situations. In that particular situation, we’re obviously just trying to get the ball towards the sideline the best we could before the game ended.”

On how he woke up and decided to address the game result with the players: “Well, we don’t go to sleep. We just kind of flew back first and then go right at the game. It’s not, it’s tricky. Today’s a tricky day with that sort of stuff because there is only one goal and that is to win. When you don’t win everything else really doesn’t feel the same. I think the biggest thing for our guys was just to understand that we had a great opportunity to win the game. We didn’t finish that off. We have to finish the game better. I think there are a lot of plays in there – starting with myself – where we could have done a better job to help us win the game. I think everybody in that room feels that way. I think that the disappointment – I would say, is something that I don’t want to say I’m proud of, but it shows me that everybody cares a lot about winning and that’s a good thing because that’ll push us forward as we go. It’s really important that everybody’s out there just trying to work really hard and I think honestly the group is really trying to win for each other. I think they really care about each other. You can see it, you can feel it. It’s not going to help us win, but it does help us give that effort to try to go win, which is important every single week. That part of it, I made sure that those guys understood that this morning, too. That’s important.”

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – SEPTEMBER 08: Quarterback Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions throws a pass during the second half of the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on September 08, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Lions and Cardinals tied 27-27. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

On if he went to go seek out QB Matthew Stafford after his frustration with the timeout late in the game: “We talk all the time – a lot, one-one-one, group, all of it – and we have those conversations. Certainly, one of the things I enjoy the most – being in this position – is that I actually have a lot of conversations with the quarterback in general. All of them – situational football, situations in why we do things, ‘What happened here? What do you feel? How did you see this?’ I think the more that we can understand both sides of it then the better we can be in those situations. Certainly, I think after the game – there was a lot going on through the course of the game and managing the rest of the fourth quarter and then into overtime – there wasn’t maybe a particular situation right then at that moment to go over as we were dealing with some other things in the other two phases of the game. Certainly, after the game and then today and going back through it, we’ll always have those conversations. We’ll certainly circle back on all of those.”

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