Detroit Lions – This “Wait Til Next Year” Can Be Different

I have used this picture in many articles about the Detroit Lions.  If fits for so many reasons but mostly because of the stench that emanates after each failing season….one after the other since 1958.

The 2019 season, once again starting out with hope, has that stench of failure once again.  And yet, there are some reasons to once again, for hope…next year.

First, lets dispense a few things before we get to those reasons:

Force The Ford Family to Sell The Detroit Lions

This is the second most idiotic suggestion out there.  I’ll get to the first one in a minute as I feel this one is more important to discuss.

Let’s be clear:  The owners have little to do with putting the product on the field.  All the teams have salary cap concerns and since the cap has been put in place, it has put most teams, monetary wise, in the same boat.

The Ford Family is responsible for hiring those who run the team.  And while they have had a long run of lousy GM’s and Head Coaches over the years, the combination of GM Bob Quinn and Head Coach Matt Patrica has the chance to be outstanding.

We all knew going into this season there was going to be some growing pains.  Yes, yes, I know…we’ve been through all this more than we care to admit.

Since 1958, the Detroit Lions have had eight General Managers.  Russ Thomas held the position from 1967 to 1988 and until Matt Millen, was probably considered the worst GM the Lions had.

Matt Millen caused the Lions to go into a tailspin that I think the Lions are just starting to pull out of now.  His draft picks from 2001 to 2008 were horrible and failed more often than produced.  Yes he drafted Calvin Johnson, but he also drafted Joey Harrington, Charles Rogers (may he RIP), Roy Williams, Mike Williams & Ernie Sims.  Not exactly the sage know-it-all he portrayed in the broadcast booth.

So we now have Bob Quinn, who came from the New England Patriots organization.  He has drafted wisely, trying to get protection for Stafford early with picks such as Taylor Decker, Graham Glasgow & Frank Ragnow.  He stole Kenny Golladay in the 3rd round in 2017 as well as drafting TJ Hockenson last year.

His fatal flaw, so far, seems to have been letting head coach Jim Caldwell go and hiring another Patriot alum, Matt Patricia.

Granted, Cadwell’s .563 winning percentage, 2nd best in Lions history, caused a lot of people to shake their heads when he was let go.  But in 2017, after going 9-7 and missing the playoffs, Quinn had enough.  The game against the Bengals, 5-9 at the time,  was most likely the final straw.  If they had won, they were in the playoffs.  Instead, an uninspired performance led to a 26-17 loss and no playoffs.  And despite a spirited win over the Packers the next week, Caldwell was fired the next day.   Which brings us to:

Fire Matt Patrica

This is the most idiotic thing that could occur.

My feeling that firing Matt Patrica at this juncture would be a mistake because he needs one more draft to put it together.

Since 1957, the Detroit Lions have had 17 head coaches with an average tenure of 3-1/2 years.  Packers have had 11 with an average tenure of almost 5 years and the Vikings, since 1961, have had 10 with an average tenure of about 6 years.  Bears have had 12 since 1958 with an average tenure of about 5 years.

Each team in our division has made multiple Super Bowl appearances, Green Bay with 5, Vikings with 4 and the Bears with 2.  The Lions, as we all know, don’t have any along with the Browns, Jaguars and Texans.

I can present a lot of statistics which can be manipulated in a myriad of ways to support arguments for and against firing Patrica.  None of it matters right now.

Patrica needs a little time to get his system in place.  We don’t have the defensive players he needs to be successful.  Yep, he is considered a “defensive guru” but let’s face it, you can be the most innovative and forward thinking defensive mind on the planet.  If you don’t have the players, you will not be successful.

How can this “Wait Til Next Year” be different?

The Detroit Lions offense is ranked 4th in the NFL in passing, 14th in points per game and 15th in total points.  Prior to the Bears game, the Lions were ranked in the top 5 in offense so putting points on the board hasn’t been the issue.  This will suffer though with the back injury to Matthew Stafford.  And as much as I want to admire his determination to play, since the season is most likely lost, it would be wise to shut him down for the rest of the year.  Give him the extra time to heal properly to come back strong next year.

And I do feel that Mathew Stafford is still the quarterback of this team.  Unless he decides to retire, any talk of trading or releasing him is just plain stupid.

Given that the Lions are very solid with receivers, we still need to bolster that running game.  But taking a running back in the first round would be a mistake…not when your defense has absolutely no pass rush.

We can’t really call Trey Flowers a bust.  The free agent from New England is the only viable pass rusher the Lions have.  And everyone in the NFL knows it and doubles and even triples on him, daring the other defensive linemen to take up the slack.

Lions are going to have to draft for freaky fast defensive ends.  Lions have (at the moment) nine picks for the 2020 draft and if held today, would have the 11th pick.  It wouldn’t hurt my feelings if the Lions traded a couple of those picks to move up into the top 5 and have a shot at Chase Young out of Ohio or Yetur Gross-Matos from Penn State.

You can keep Flowers and the new DE will free him up quite a bit.  If teams continue to double up on Flowers, the rookie DE has rookie of the year chances.  You could also let Flowers go and perhaps pursue a  free agent stud…Jadeveon Clowney is a free agent after this year.  And who knows if the Seahawks will want to meet his demands.

My feelings wouldn’t be hurt if the Lions took defensive ends with their first two picks either.  Having a rotation at defensive end isn’t a bad thing.

As for running back, Kerryon Johnson could still be a viable option.  But getting a running back in the draft would be smart, provided it’s with the 3rd of 4th pick.  Cam Akers out of Florida State has proven to be a solid runner despite having an awful offensive line.  Could be a steal pick in the 3rd or 4th round.  If you want big and powerful, Najee Harris out of Alabama could be a great rotation with Johnson.  At 6-2 and 230lbs, Harris can batter defensive lines and isn’t too bad of a receiver out of the backfield.

Bottom line, we Lions fans, despite having to hear it all the fricking time, will have to wait until next year.  Bob Quinn and Patrica, along with the rest of the Lions brain trust, have to shore up the defense and the draft is the way to do that.

Here is to 2020…and hopefully it will be the season we’ve been wanting for over 6 decades.