First-year head coaches typically have a grace period with their new teams as everyone knows it takes time to install new schemes and change a culture. For Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia, that grace period expired quickly in Monday's ugly 48-17 loss to the New York Jets.
The Lions were booed in their own stadium amid a slew of turnovers and sloppy play, and with a tough schedule ahead, Patricia already is facing questions about whether players are buying into his Belichickian coaching methods.
"Look, these guys work really hard every single day," Patricia said. "I give them a lot of credit for everything they try to do. And they come in, they try to do it the right way and we're obviously pushing forward and trying to learn and grow and get better at everything we're doing right now, so I don't see any issue there whatsoever."
There might not be an issue yet, but the Lions will need some on-field payoff to keep it that way.
Against the Jets, the Lions gave up 31 unanswered points in the third quarter and allowed touchdowns passing and rushing on defense, and in the return game. Players seemed dispirited, even as they acknowledged the long season ahead.
"We lost," defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois said. "It's only Week 1, the world's not over with. We just lost one game. ... We got (15) more (to go)."
When they travel west this week to face the San Francisco 49ers, the Lions might find some respite from their skeptical fan base in an opponent that's dealing with its own problems, including some of a health nature.
The 49ers lost one of their top offensive weapons, running back Jerick McKinnon, to a torn ACL in the preseason, and they will be without linebacker Reuben Foster for a second straight week because of suspension.
The Lions, meanwhile, have a deep group of skill players who match up well against the 49ers secondary.
"We don't ever want to go out there and play poor football," quarterback Matthew Stafford said. "We're disappointed and frustrated with our own performance. We want to be better than that, we are better than that. We have just to go out there and play better than that."
SERIES HISTORY: 65th regular-season meeting. 49ers lead series, 36-27-1. The Lions have lost 12 straight road games against the 49ers, a streak that dates to 1975. The most famous meeting between these teams came in 1983, when the 49ers won a playoff game, 24-23, after Eddie Murray missed a 43-yard field goal wide right with 5 seconds to play.