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Matt Patricia: ‘Fundamentals and execution’ are holding Lions back – NFC North

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — After two straight weeks in which the Detroit Lions have been outplayed, outmuscled and fairly well dominated, first-year coach Matt Patricia is off to try something different.

He’s going back, in some ways, to the basics. Multiple times during his day-after news conference on Monday, he mentioned the Lions’ struggles with the fundamentals within a football game and being sharper in the execution of said fundamentals.

The Lions have had multiple issues the past two weeks, and many became more pronounced Sunday against Minnesota. The Lions allowed 10 sacks and 17 quarterback hits of Matthew Stafford. The run defense allowed its fourth 50-plus-yard run of the season, worst in the NFL. Special teams, other than the consistent Matt Prater, continued to have issues in coverage.

“Fundamentals and execution is what’s holding us back right now,” Patricia said. “That’s where we have to start.”

In other words, he’s trying to find just about anything that can help.

As far as how Patricia plans to fix things, he said Monday that he might try adding an extra period of practice to work on those aforementioned fundamentals, something the team stressed in training camp. He also said he might show different examples of what he is looking for in meetings throughout the week.

Anything to get the Lions away from two straight awful performances that took them from the cusp of competing for a division title to struggling to stay with any of the higher-up teams in the NFC.

But what, exactly, does that mean?

“When you say fundamentals, you’re thinking about the things that you’ve been learning about since you were a kid,” safety Tavon Wilson said. “Blocking, tackling, getting off blocks, you know, getting the ball out — fundamentals. That’s fundamentals of the game.

“That’s something you’ve been taught. They ain’t got nothing to do with scheme or what the coaches are calling or who you’re playing. It has all to do with you and the fundamentals of the game.”

Wilson said after a game that where big plays happen, fundamentals — often what got players to the NFL in the first place — can get a little lost. Returning to the basics could help players focus on the smaller things. Wilson believes every play comes down to those basic things learned when they first picked up the game.

In reality, though, it’s the latest thing the Lions are doing to try to figure out how to turn around a season that has been heading south since a win at Miami a little over two weeks ago.

On Monday, when Patricia was asked whether the process — something he spoke about in the preseason — was taking longer than he expected, he said he didn’t have a timetable for how long it would take because things change within the course of the season.

And he said he wanted to focus on this week.

“We’re just trying to look at it on a small scale and see what we can improve on this week and get better at, and that’s kind of where we have to go when we have weeks where we feel we didn’t necessarily perform on the one day of the week that we have to perform well, perform good enough, then we’ve got to get that fixed,” Patricia said. “I thought through the course of the last week, I thought we did have some good practices, and we had gotten better in a couple areas that didn’t show up on Sunday.

“So that’ll be kind of the next step is making sure that transfers from the course of the week through the weekend and into the game on Sunday.”

Whether that happens this week won’t be seen until the Lions play Sunday against the Bears. But it sounds like Patricia is at least trying to alter his approach to see if he can keep two losses from turning into three.

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