Patricia’s future looks tenuous after Lions collapse again

DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Lions scored two quick touchdowns to take a 14-0 lead within the first five minutes against New Orleans.

By this point, every Lions fan should have known the game was far from over.

For a third time in four games this season, the Lions lost after leading by double digits. This time, it was the injury-riddled Saints who came away with a 35-29 victory Sunday. New Orleans scored 35 unanswered points after Detroit’s early advantage, and as the Lions head into their open date, it’s becoming harder to avoid the question of whether Matt Patricia will be their coach much longer.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Patricia said. “Certainly, when I came to Detroit, there was a lot of work to do and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

That assessment is unlikely to sit well with Lions fans. Detroit went 9-7 in 2017 under Jim Caldwell before he was fired and replaced by Patricia after that season. Patricia is now 10-25-1, and although he had previous experience as a defensive coordinator with New England, the Lions (1-3) have looked particularly out of sorts lately on that side of the ball.

The early lead Sunday was gone by the middle of the second quarter, and New Orleans led 28-14 at halftime. Drew Brees was intercepted on the Saints’ first offensive play, but they scored touchdowns on each of their next five possessions. Meanwhile, the Lions’ offense couldn’t keep up.

“It’s very frustrating,” offensive lineman Taylor Decker said. “We start fast, and we show that we can get up on teams and score points on teams and stop teams, but at the end of the day, it’s a 60-minute game.”

The last time the Lions made major in-season changes was in 2015, when they fired general manager Martin Mayhew after reaching their open week on the schedule. They were 1-7 at the time. A week earlier, they’d replaced their offensive coordinator.

So it’s not too early to wonder if owner Sheila Ford Hamp might act. Hamp’s mother, Martha Firestone Ford, handed the team over to her earlier this year.

Players have remained supportive of Patricia, while understanding their performance hasn’t been good enough.

“We all believe in the plan that’s put in place,” Decker said. “We’re professional athletes. We’re expected to come here and perform, and follow the lead of the things that the coaches have us do. We believe in what’s being taught here, and then if we didn’t, frankly we wouldn’t be here.”

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Follow Noah Trister at https://twitter.com/noahtrister

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