It's usually not hard for NFL teams to find positives when they lose -- because NFL teams usually don't lose by 20 points.
Matt Patricia's Lions have three such losses this season, more than every team in the league but the 0-10 Jets. Not the sort of company you want to keep. The worst of them came Sunday against the Panthers.
Detroit was shut out by a defense that had surrendered 46 points the week prior. It gave up 20 points to an offense missing its starting quarterback and starting running back. It was the Lions' ugliest performance of Patricia's increasingly ugly tenure.
Positives? None, other than the fact that it's over.
But Patricia said Monday "there were definitely some things in the course of the game that we did like."
Asked where he saw improvement from his team on tape, Patricia pointed to takeaways on defense and ... coverage on special teams.
"It’s really good to get turnovers in the red area," he said. "That’s something we hadn’t done very well in the last several weeks, red area defense, so that was a positive. Liked that."
Those two takeaways were the product of two terrible throws by Panthers backup quarterback P.J. Walker. The first hit Amani Oruwariye square in the chest, the second floated softly into the hands of Desmond Trufant.
With due respect to Oruwariye and Trufant, those interceptions don't happen without a former XFL quarterback on the field.
"There were some things in the kicking game I thought with the interior punt protection and punt coverage unit that was good for us to get down there," Patricia went on. "There were a lot of guys stepping up into some different roles, so that was positive."
Well, great. The only problem is that Detroit's defense rarely made that field position count. Like in the first quarter when Jax Fox pinned the Panthers on their five-yard line and then the Lions allowed a 95-yard touchdown drive.
But these are the Lions under Matt Patricia, so many flaws you can't see their strengths.
"Obviously the negative was there and it’s glaring, and that’s what we’re trying to get fixed," Patricia said.
Patricia might not have much longer to do that. A loss to the Texans on Thanksgiving will likely spell the end of his time in Detroit. He has to know that, even if he wouldn't speak on the matter Monday.
"Look, our focus right now is on Houston," he said when asked about his job security. "Any conversations that I’ve had with ownership, I always keep those private. We’ve got a quick turnaround here, trying to get ready for Houston."
Even in his nightmares, Patricia couldn't have seen this coming when he took over a 9-7 team in 2018. The Lions couldn't have either. But the terrors have come true, with the coach on the chopping block and the franchise staring at yet another long-term rebuild.
Asked if the results of his tenure have left him pissed off, Patricia only said, "Look, I’m a very, very competitive person, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. I want to win, I always want to win, I want to win every day. I don’t think there’s any guessing or any question about that. So that’s what we’re trying to do."
Try harder is the natural response. But it's not a matter of effort for Patricia, never has been. It's a matter of being up to the task. Patricia might have looked the part as a defensive coordinator in New England, but he's been badly exposed as a head coach in Detroit.
When he got here, the Lions were a good team getting better. Now they're a bad team getting worse, with no positives to be found.