I had planned on writing an article full of statistical information that would show that the Detroit Lions really aren’t as bad as their 1-3 record would indicate.
Unfortunately, the stats wouldn’t help me out. Outside of some decent offensive stats, the rest of it shows they are really that bad, mainly the defense:
- Lower quarter of the NFL in yards allowed
- Lower half of total points per game and average points allowed per game
- 31st in 3rd down efficiency, allowing opposing teams to keep the chains moving 47% of the time
Despite last year’s second half surge that once again teased us die-hard Lions fans there was hope, they have once again slipped back in to a role that is uncomfortably comfortable for them: An underachieving NFL football team.
I look at the Lions year after year and the only metaphor I can come up with is they are a 1957 Chevy Nomad. Each year, they come out looking good and giving us hope. Problem is that someone long ago, replaced the Super Turbo Fire V8, 283 cubic inches of 283 horsepower of Detroit power with a Subaru 360 cc two cylinder engine with an output of 36 horses.
Granted, GM Bob Quinn needs some time to right the ship. This is his first year and he inherits a long-term legacy of years and years of failure and heartbreak. We can’t have expected Quinn to wave his magic Bill Belichick wand and all of a sudden the Lions become the New England Patriots of the NFC North.
I suppose we need to have a dose of reality here: It’s going to get worse before it gets better. And perhaps that was Quinn’s plan when he decided to keep the coaching staff in place instead of cleaning house. Instead of once again bringing in yet another set of coaches and yet another set of offensive and defensive philosophies, he wants to evaluate just what he has.
Belichick has had only one losing season since he took over the Patriots. They went 5-11 in 2000…since then 182-58, winning over 75% of their games. They have been in the playoffs every year since 2001, winning the Super Bowl 4 times in 6 appearances.
The Lions? Since 2001, the Detroit Lions have had 7 head coaches with a record of 78-62 and winning just about 32% of their games. Two playoff appearances and in both times, never made it past the first round.
There have already been rumblings in the Lion nation calling for Quinn to get rid of current head coach Jim Caldwell and rightfully so. I don’t believe Caldwell has the chops to bring this team from it’s decades of mediocrity and make it a perennial play-off contending team. The Indianapolis Colts team he took to the Super Bowl in 2009, he inherited from Tony Dungy.
I think we need to be patient with one Mr. Quinn. I got a feeling that Caldwell, if he does last the year, will be replaced with perhaps New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels who has done wonders over the first 4 games sans Tom Brady.
McDaniels may keep Jim Bob Cooter has the offensive coordinator but one never knows when a new head coach comes in. Cooter has a great rapport with QB Matthew Stafford and has Stafford performing at a very high and consistent level. And their offensive philosophies a very similar.
But what of the defense? Teryl Austin is a very good defensive coordinator. But the failures of the defense reflects on him. In fact, the failures of the defense reflect on what is wrong with the Lions.
Other options for head coach:
Sean McDermott – Defensive coordinator, Carolina Panthers: Panthers defense has been rated near the top for the past 3 years. Could be the shot in the arm the Lions need to bring them to respectability
Darrell Bevell – Offensive Coordinator, Seattle Seahawks: Bevell has been on the short list for several head coaching spots over the last few years. Not sure what the issue has been for teams to not pull the trigger. One rumor is teams aren’t sure he can handle the responsibility of running an entire team. Detroit could give him the opportunity he needs to prove that he can.
Teryl Austin – Defensive Coordinator, Detroit Lions: Despite the current regression of his defense, Austin is ready for the top job. If Caldwell is let go during the season, it wouldn’t be a shocker if Austin becomes the interim head coach which would allow him to prove himself he can do the job. If the Lions do cut ties with Caldwell, I’d like to see them do sooner rather than later so Austin can get as many games as he can to prove himself.
Matt Patricia – Defensive Coordinator, New England Patriots: Another Belichick protégé and one Quinn may consider if McDaniels withdraws his name from consideration. However, he looks like a bit of a wild man on the sidelines and many owners want their head coaches to have a more “corporate” look when roaming the sidelines. Lions have had their share of corporate looking head coaches, maybe a wild man is what they need.
Kyle Shanahan – Offensive Coordinator, Atlanta Falcons: Just 36 years old, he already has 9 seasons of being an offensive coordinator and has done some great work with quarterbacks. He has proven himself enough to step out of the shadows of his father, Mike Shanahan.
Jim Schwartz – Defensive Coordinator, Philadelphia Eagles: A real longshot and to date, he would be the first ex – Detroit Lions head coach to get another shot. He did some good things when he was with the Lions but I think he go shafted. Perhaps with a better GM, like Bob Quinn, he’d get the players needed to be successful. But I think the Lions nation would react negatively and the last thing the Lions need is bad feelings from the fans.
Pretty sad that only 4 games into a season and there is already talk of finding a new head coach. Even if Caldwell can right the ship, I still think he’s the wrong guy for the job. He’s too much of a technician and relies way too much on the percentages. We need a coach who will take chances and be ruthless and keep up constant pressure on opposing teams.
Will the Lions ever have success again? Hard to say. But there is hope, right? I mean the Chicago Cubs just might get to the World Series for the first time in 107 years.
Good God, I hope we don’t have to wait that long for the Lions to win a Super Bowl!