After a listless home loss this past weekend, Detroit defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois called out his team.
“I just want everybody to lock back in. Lock in for these next 10 weeks, just lock in,” Jean Francois said after Sunday’s 28-14 loss to Seattle.
“Leave everything else alone outside of this building. I know you love your family, but tell them you will see them in February. Just lock in and do your job, nothing else is important to us right now.”
Time will tell whether Sunday’s loss becomes a galvanizing moment for the Lions, but the frustration was understandable.
For three straight seasons, Detroit has won between seven and nine games, and its fans have experienced occasional optimism followed by quick letdowns.
After losing to Seattle, the Lions are again in a tough spot — alone in last place in the NFC North, heading into road games against Minnesota and Chicago.
“I think all of our process every single week as we move through the season here, it has to improve,” said Matt Patricia, Detroit’s first-year coach.
“Everything does. The season gets harder as you go on and the process has to get better each and every week. So, we have to make sure we’re doing that to the highest level.”
The Lions lost their first two games of the season but showed an appropriate amount of urgency after that, scrambling back to the .500 mark. They appeared to have fixed their long-dormant running game, and the home game against the Seahawks looked like another opportunity to show progress.
Instead, Detroit (3-4) allowed three touchdowns in the second quarter and never recovered.
“We came out flat with no focus. We just weren’t ready to go again,” Jean Francois said. “That team came off that bus ready to go. They were ready to execute everything, they were ready to put their skills on display. We just came out there and weren’t focused at all against this team and that’s the weird part.”
Running back Ameer Abdullah, who fumbled while returning a kickoff, shared similar sentiments afterward.
“It’s a long season, sometimes you kind of hit a cruise control and you forget the little things you do every single day,” Abdullah said. “Like same foot, same shoulder, ball security, hold tight, stuff like that. But you have to continue to focus on that stuff as the season goes on.”
Beyond the intangible notions of focus and intensity, the Lions were outperformed statistically as well. Seattle had a 176-34 edge in rushing — a step back for a Detroit team that ran for 248 yards in a win at Miami the previous weekend.
The Lions fell behind 21-7 in the second quarter, and that probably played a role in the rushing disparity. Detroit finished the game with only 13 attempts on the ground.
“I think we talked about it all week last week about how good they are in the run game. They do a good job of loading the box and just put themselves in some really good positions to make some plays,” Patricia said Monday.
“We have to execute a little bit better and obviously just try to get some more positive plays in the run game going earlier in the game and be able to stay with it and control the game from that aspect of it.”
Detroit also turned the ball over three times against Seattle, so the Lions have had eight turnovers in their losses to the Seahawks and Jets, but only two in their five other games.
But two of Detroit’s turnovers Sunday came in the fourth quarter when the team was already facing a double-digit deficit. The game began to slip away long before then.
“They out-executed us in all three phases last night and we did not execute up to par,” Patricia said. “I just have to do a better job coaching and we have to do a better job of playing.”
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