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ALLEN PARK Jake Rudock Jersey , Mich. (AP) — In firing him after the 2017 season, the Detroit Lions indicated the Jim Caldwell era was just not good enough.But meaningless December football is back in Detroit again as first-year coach Matt Patricia’s Lions will play out the string with four games with nothing at stake but draft position remain.The Lions are 4-8 and all but mathematically eliminated from the NFC playoff race. Road games at Arizona and Buffalo are next before Detroit finishes with divisional games at home against Minnesota and at Green Bay.After Sunday’s 30-16 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Detroit has to win out to finish better than Caldwell’s worst of four seasons as coach. After three winning seasons and two playoff berths under Caldwell, the Lions will be .500-or-below for the 13th time in the past 14 non-Caldwell coached seasons.A lot of things have changed in Matthew Stafford’s 10 seasons with the Lions, but the franchise is back in the losing position he grew accustomed to in the first half of his career.“I come to work every day, work my tail off, try to push our team to be as good as we can be,” Stafford said Sunday after his fumble on an Aaron Donald sack ended a chance for the Lions to take their first lead in the fourth quarter.“There was some good in this game, there was some bad. We’ve got to fix the bad and keep doing a lot of the good. But I’m going to come to work ready to go.”Public reflection is rare during an NFL season, especially under Patricia, who was groomed under Bill Belichick in New England.“For me, it’s been pretty much the same from all the way through Danny Amendola Jersey ,” Patricia said Monday. “I don’t know what the team’s been previous, I don’t know what it’s been before I got here. I’m just trying to make sure we build from where we’re at.”Injuries have decimated Stafford’s skill position options, as wide receiver Marvin Jones (knee) is out for the season and running back Kerryon Johnson (knee) missed his second straight game Sunday. Wide receiver Golden Tate was leading the Lions in receptions for the fifth straight season when he was traded to Philadelphia on Oct. 30.After watching film Monday, defensive tackle Damon Harrison, acquired Oct. 25 in a trade from the New York Giants, said he saw positives from Sunday’s defensive effort.“There was a lot more good than bad, we actually played a pretty good game, the score wasn’t a great indication of how close that game was,” Harrison said after the Lions trailed 16-13 heading into the fourth quarter against a Super Bowl contender. “It was encouraging to see everybody take the technique and the coaching and bring it into Sunday.”The Lions did have a win on Monday though.Offensive lineman Taylor Decker scored his first touchdown of his football career on Sunday, faking a block but releasing into a wide-open space of the Rams’ defense for an 11-yard touchdown.In his euphoria, Decker threw the ball into the stands. Later, on Twitter Trey Flowers Jersey , Decker put out a plea to relieve the keepsake.“To whoever caught/has the ball I threw into the stands,” his tweet Sunday night began, “I’ve played football since first grade, and that was my first ever touchdown. I’d love to have the ball, and would be more than happy to hook you up if you’d be willing. #defendtheden #bigmantouchdown”The story had a happy ending, with Decker tweeting Monday morning that the case was solved.Decker tweeted: “I HAVE FOUND HIM!!!!!!! AND HE IS BEING GREAT ABOUT IT #socialmediastrikesagain”It’s the kind of karma that his team could use.“We need to keep pushing that forward and we need to go out and play better and we need to go out and win,” Patricia said. “We want to put it together the best we can, go out there and go play a really good ballgame. That would probably be the best thing for us.” The Atlanta Falcons came into the season with such high expectations.Then, a jarring dose of reality.As if a carbon-copy loss in Week 1 wasn't bad enough, two significant injuries on defense have left this team reeling as it prepares for Sunday's home opener against division rival Carolina.The Falcons lost hard-hitting strong safety Keanu Neal to a season-ending knee injury and were forced to put middle linebacker Deion Jones on injured reserve with a foot problem. While Jones is facing a much shorter recovery period, he won't be eligible to return until Week 11.Just like that, the Falcons are missing two cornerstones of their promising young defense Damon Harrison Jersey , a pair of third-year players who were both picked for the Pro Bowl last season."Let's not sugarcoat it," defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel said after practice Wednesday. "This week, honestly, were two devastating blows."Duke Riley, who had been starting on the weak side, will move inside to replace Jones. Neal's starting spot in the secondary goes to Damontae Kazee, who was one of the team's most impressive players during the preseason but it still rather new to the position after playing cornerback in college."We'll ask those guys to do the things they do best," coach Dan Quinn said. "We won't feature them in exactly the same way we did Deion and (Neal). We'll ask them to play the style that suits them and suits us, too."The Falcons had been working Riley as both a middle and outside linebacker with this very scenario in mind. He was a bit of a disappointment as a rookie, but Quinn said he had shown significant improvement heading into his second season.The trickle down of Jones' injury is that rookie Foyesade Oluokun, a sixth-round pick out of Yale, moves up to start on the outside. Kemal Ishmael could also get playing time at that position."That's football. People get injured Ricky Jean Francois Jersey ," Ismael said. "New guys have got to step up. We created this team just for that."While the defense is breaking in two new starters, the offense is still dealing with the same ol' issue.Ineptitude in the red zone.In an 18-12 loss to Super Bowl champion Philadelphia, the Falcons managed only one touchdown and nine points out of five drives inside the Eagles 20. On the final play of the game from the 5, Julio Jones landed out of bounds after leaping to catch Matt Ryan's pass — essentially, the same way the previous season ended with a divisional round playoff loss to the Eagles.The opener turned up the heat on offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, whose play-calling was widely panned on social media. Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner tweeted that Philadelphia ran the same defensive scheme on the last four plays of the game, but the Falcons never seemed to figure it out."They played 7 across," Warner wrote. "Needed to attack 1 zone w/ 2 guys & it's an easy TD — they kept sending guys 2 different zones??? Beat zone by overloading it!"Quinn came to Sarkisian's defense.Well, sort of."For sure, we're not scoring in the red zone like we're capable of," Quinn said. "It's not all execution or the calls. But we've got plenty of work to do down there. There are a number of things where I would like to see improvement."Most notably, the Falcons attempted 43 passes against Philadelphia but ran the ball only 18 times."We play best when we have good balance between the run and the pass Levine Toilolo Jersey ," Quinn said. "That's what we need to be. The run game — how we feature our backs, the play action that goes with it — that's where so many of our explosive plays come from. We've got to work to get that right."Ryan agreed with that assessment, but also said it's far too soon to go into panic mode."It's a small sample size," the quarterback said. "I believe the work we put in is going to pay off for us as we move forward. I believe that our execution is going to be better the next time we're down there."Notes: RB Devonta Freeman (knee) did not practice Wednesday, raising concerns that he may not be ready to go against the Panthers. RB Brian Hill was promoted from the practice squad, a further sign the Falcons are concerned about Freeman's status. ... OG Ben Garland (calf) and WR Russell Gage (knee) also sat out practice.Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at s://apnews/search/paul%20newberry
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