ALLEN PARK, Mich. - Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia showed up for work a day after his free-falling team lost again in front of an apathetic home crowd.
“I just expect to be here every day until they tell me not to," Patricia said Monday. “Hopefully, that’ll be a long time.”
That decision will be made by team owner Martha Firestone Ford, who was seen on the Ford Field turf talking to her embattled coach before Tampa Bay beat Detroit 38-17.
Patricia, who is 9-20-1 as an NFL head coach, refused to say if he has been told whether he'll be back to lead the team for a third season in 2020.
“I like to keep all of that stuff private as I think it’s important to do," he said.
Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia looks on during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Detroit, Michigan USA, on Sunday, December 15, 2019. (Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
The Lions (3-10-1) have lost seven in a row - for the first time in seven years - and 10 of 11 under Patricia.
Defensive end Trey Flowers, who played for Patricia when he was the defensive coordinator in New England, said Patricia is getting too much blame for the team's slump.
“He's not on the field," Flowers said. “He prepares us the best he can and then it's up to the players."
Players show up at the team's training facility early and leave late, but Patricia is there before them and stays even longer in the hopes of figuring out what he can do to help the team win - and keep his job.
“It’s most of the reason why I don’t leave the building because they’re going to have to throw me out," he joked.
The Lions do not seem to be giving up on Patricia or their teammates. Detroit fell behind the Buccaneers 21-0 and instead of packing it in for the day, the banged-up team had the ball late in the game down by just seven points.
Detroit's previous six setbacks were by four, three, eight, seven and seven points.
“We obviously have a long way to go and we have some things that we have to fix," Patricia said. “But at least the team itself cares about each other and that’s something."
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The Lions almost abandoned their awful running game, handing off the ball a season-low 18 times against Tampa Bay. Detroit had a season-low 45 yards rushing Sunday, a third straight game with a declining total on the ground.
Receiver Danny Amendola had 100-plus yards receiving for a third time this season despite playing with third-string quarterback David Blough, who filled in for the injured Matthew Stafford. Amendola has 641 yards receiving and he's 49 yards away from breaking his career high set in 2010 with the Rams in his second NFL season.
Tight end Jesse James signed a four-year contract in March, when Detroit was hoping he would make about 40 catches for 400 yards and two touchdowns as he did the previous three years in Pittsburgh. That's not going to happen. James had a season-high 31 yards receiving and matched a season high with three receptions against Tampa Bay. He has just 13 receptions for 125 yards without a score this season.
Offensive guard Kenny Wiggins (torn biceps) and defensive tackle Mike Daniels (arm) were put on injured reserve Monday. Detroit added offensive Caleb Benenoch off waivers from Dallas. Benenoch started 22 games from 2016-18 for Tampa Bay. He has been with the Buccaneers, Cowboys, Carolina and New England this season.
7 -- Detroit's losing streak is the franchise's longest since closing the 2012 season with an eight-game skid under coach Jim Schwartz, who returned for a fourth and final season.
Detroit ends the season at Denver (5-9) and at home against NFC North-leading Green Bay, which may have as many fans as the Lions do Dec. 29 at Ford Field.