They're like coal miners, Matt Patricia and the Lions, discovering one low point after another. We'd say Sunday was rock bottom, except we've said that before. Then they wipe their brows, tighten their hard hats and dig a little deeper into the earth.
Their latest debacle -- a 20-0 loss to a 3-7 team missing its starting quarterback and starting running back -- sure felt like the nadir. As did that Week 2 loss to the Packers. And that Week 4 loss to the Saints and that Week 8 loss to the Colts and that Week 9 loss to the Vikings. The Lions have been outdoing themselves since getting blown out by rookie quarterback in the first game of Patricia's tenure.
It's been clear for a while this isn't going to work. The Lions -- Bob Quinn, that is -- hired Patricia to beat good teams, and now they lose to bad ones. They hired him to build a defense, and now their defense is a mess. They hired him to take them over the top, and instead Patricia and Quinn have driven them off a cliff.
"I’ve had a philosophy for a long time: I go to work every day to try to earn my job," Patricia said after Sunday's loss, his 28th in 42 games as a head coach. "That’s just what I do. That doesn’t matter if it’s coaching, engineering, I don’t care if I’m in school. I'm just gonna go to work and work hard."
Patricia has lost the right to come to work for the Lions -- not that working for the Lions is some sort of glamorous job. But Detroit was 18-14 in the two seasons prior to Patricia's arrival, and 13-28-1 in the three seasons since.
15 NFL head coaches have been fired since 2018. Let's go by the numbers to examine why Patricia should be next.
1: win in eight games against a rookie head coach
That came in 2018 against Steve Wilks' Cardinals, who would no longer be Steve Wilks' Cardinals at the end of the season. The latest loss came Sunday against Matt Rhule's Panthers, who clowned the Lions with a former XFL quarterback.
2: wins against the NFC North
Both came in 2018 against the worst Packers team in 10 years, one of which came against DeShone Kizer. Otherwise, Patricia's Lions are 0-13 against their divisional rivals -- and naturally tracking toward their third straight last-place finish.
3: wins against winning teams
The Patriots in 2018, the Eagles in 2019, the Cardinals in 2020. That's it. There was nothing wrong with firing Jim Caldwell for his inability to beat good teams. But you can't keep Patricia when he's failing at the exact same thing.
4: games allowing more than 40 points. Or scoring fewer than 10.
Take your pick. The former is especially galling, considering defense was supposed to be Patricia's area of expertise. The Lions have also had 13 games where they've allowed 30 or more points -- nearly a third of Patricia's tenure.
5: losses by at least 20 points
Here's the worst part: three of those have happened this year. 42-21 against the Packers, 41-21 against the Colts, 20-0 against the Panthers. That's inexcusable in a season in which the Lions were supposed to take a significant step forward.
6: wins at home
That's out of 20 games, and maybe we should have seen it coming based on the first one. If you can't win at home and you can't win within your division, you won't win anything that matters in the NFL.
7: different coordinators
And none to celebrate, save Brayden Coombs. Darrell Bevell's offense, a bright spot in 2019, has regressed badly in 2020. How many more coaches will Patricia run through before the Lions get rid of the one at the top?
8: losses after leading by double digits
This might be the stat on Patricia's tombstone in Detroit. He likes to say it reflects well on how the Lions start. But who cares if they can't finish? Patricia has flashed his engineering chops in finding new ways to lose.
9: wins in 2017
Which wasn't good enough, remember? Again, nothing wrong with that sentiment. The Lions have tolerated mediocrity for far too long. But they're tolerating something worse with Patricia, who tore down a good team to build a bad one.
10: men on the field
Sorry, couldn't resist.