Lions head coach Matt Patricia generated some headlines last week when he castigated a reporter for poor posture upon the asking of a question about departed receiver Golden Tate.
“Do me a favor. Just kinda sit up. Just, like, have a little respect for the process,” Patricia said.
These are the kinds of things that quickly become forgotten footnotes when a team is successful.
When that coach’s team goes out and loses 24-9 to the Vikings and gives up 10 sacks in the process, however, those little flare-ups tend to get magnified. So let’s connect the dots:
Matthew Stafford being under constant duress can be traced to several sources, but losing Tate is one of them. As former Lions QB Dan Orlovsky astutely noted on Twitter, Tate “was always the easy completion guy — either by scheme or execution,” and having Tate as a checkdown would have helped Sunday. Orlovsky asserted that four of the sacks wouldn’t have happened if Tate was still on the team.
Point taken, though that might be overstating things. After all, the Vikings defensive line is full of guys who are no slouches. They showed plenty of respect for the process of sacking Stafford.
• Speaking of those 10 sacks — a Vikings record — they were part of what seemed to be the most Mike Zimmer-esque game of the season.
The Vikings head coach has been preaching offensive balance in the midst of a season in which Kirk Cousins entered Sunday with the most pass attempts in the NFL. On Sunday? Cousins threw 23 times, and the Vikings ran 23 times.
Field position? Matt Wile pinned the Lions inside the 20-yard line three times.
And while the Vikings did have two turnovers, the Lions’ lone giveaway — a fumble returned by Danielle Hunter for a touchdown — was the backbreaker. Combined with Detroit’s eight penalties to Minnesota’s three, it added up to a game in which the Vikings were solid overall, stout on defense and waited for the opponent to self-destruct.
That’s been the formula for most of Zimmer’s tenure. It was less so through the first eight games this season. If this wasn’t a full identity shift, it was at least a hint that the Vikings can win in multiple ways.
• The Bears were the latest team to throttle Buffalo, remaining atop the NFC North with a 41-9 victory. Combined with Green Bay’s 22-0 shutout of the Bills, that’s 63-9 for the Vikings’ top two division competitors vs. Buffalo, which somehow inexplicably beat Minnesota 27-6.
• One NFC team that continues to be overlooked as a legitimate threat: Carolina. The Panthers moved to 6-2 with a 42-28 victory over Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Cam Newton is playing both efficiently and dynamically. There are plenty of other playmakers on offense. And it’s not like this is new. The Panthers have made the playoffs four of the past five years, including a Super Bowl appearance.
Their season could come down to a big finish: Two of their final three games are against fellow NFC South contender New Orleans.
• Jimmy Butler missed his third game out of 10 this season Sunday when the Wolves played in Portland. This one and the first one made some sense, given they were both parts of back-to-back games and resting starters in those situations has become more common in the NBA.
What’s still head-scratching, though, are these things: 1) That Butler missed Wednesday’s home game against Utah, with an off day before and after it. And 2) That Butler seemingly is being allowed to call the shots on when he plays. It leaves the impression that nobody is really in charge.
Nothing about this Wolves season is going to feel normal or even really matter until Butler is traded. For the sake of everyone involved, it needs to happen soon.