Is the Detroit Lions defensive success a trick or treat?

Detroit Lions safety Tracy Walker (Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports)
Detroit Lions safety Tracy Walker (Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions
Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions (Photo by Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports) /

Defensive changes may save the season

Matt Patricia has always been the smartest guy in the room. Whether you like him or not, that is simply a fact. The man is a former rocket scientist who decided to give that up to pursue his passion for coaching football.

But football isn’t rocket science and it also doesn’t require over-thinking the game.

What Matt Patricia wanted to do defensively here in Detroit was bring in a highly complex system that the New England Patriots pull off because of superior players and the whole Bill Belichick factor.

Whether we want to say that Patricia and his assistants aren’t capable of teaching that system properly or the players he has plugged in either aren’t capable of processing the nuances of the system or just aren’t good enough, it hasn’t worked.

To his credit, Patricia has rolled the dice two weeks in a row with what has essentially been a new more basic defensive scheme that relies upon simple fundamental play and the element of mixing up coverages as well as the liberal use of blitz packages.

In other words, unlike in week one where the Bears made their big fourth-quarter comeback and said after the game that defensively the Lions did exactly what they expected, Matt Patricia is now mixing up the defense and using the element of surprise to create some confusion.

Is it ground-breaking? No, but it has been more effective. Sure the Jaguars and Falcons have pathetic records, but Atlanta has actually been pretty good on offense this season despite having only one win to their name.

So going forward, this change in philosophy, which Patricia does deserve credit for, has allowed the Lions to possibly save their season and the jobs of both Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn.

The offense has been inconsistent but does have the firepower to score. The resurgence of the defense, however, will be the key to how this season ends.

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If the Lions fulfill the mandate handed down by ownership to ‘play meaningful games in December’ or sneak into the postseason or even actually win a playoff game, then it can all be attributed to the resurgence on defense created by Patricia swallowing his pride and doing what he should have done long ago to give his defense a chance to compete.

If they implode and fall victim to the Lions just being the Lions, then we’ll all have to wait and see what the next regime will do.