What standards of success should fans have for the Detroit Lions and Matt Patricia in year one? We look to the past for the answer.
The nascent tenure of Matt Patricia as Detroit Lions head coach has been wildly anticipated for weeks now. And that same anticipation should be met with sensible expectations in year one.
What realistic expectations should we have for the Lions in 2018? Well, a quick look back at the first years of the Lions last three head coaches gives us a bit of recent historical perspective.
2006 Rod Marinelli 3-13
2009 Jim Schwartz 2-14
2014 Jim Caldwell 11-5
This glance tells us that typically, first year head coaches in Lions’ history didn’t fare well. And they faced a long, uphill road towards establishing respectability.
Jim Caldwell’s term began strong. But soon his teams struggled to gain any solid footing against teams with winning records and limped to a 4-25 mark in those contests over four years.
Caldwell finished his tenure as Detroit’s head coach with a respectable 36-28 record. But zero playoff wins, zero division titles and his aforementioned struggles against teams over .500 were more than enough to seal his fate with Lions’ general manager Bob Quinn.
As soon as Patricia arrives at the team headquarters in Allen Park, there will be plenty for him to address. Performance issues on the offensive line, a virtually non-existent run game, free agency decisions, roster upgrades and implementing a new scheme on defense are all tall tasks for any new coaching staff to handle.
For the first time, Patricia will be making his own decisions and we should expect some growing pains from a first year head coach.
Despite this, one of Patricia’s best assets is his ability to gameplan and then adjust. He takes what he is dealt and then finds ways to maximize strengths and minimize flaws. Patricia was able to revitalize the career of former Lions’ castoff, current New England Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy. And he is respected league wide for consistently doing more with less during his time with the New England defense.
It would be awesome next year for the Lions to immediately play their way into a Super Bowl berth, but expectations of that reality would more than likely end in a whimper for Detroit.
It’s not outside the realm of possibility however, to expect disciplined football, a season of 10 to 11 wins and a division title, all of which are attainable in 2018. For the last three years, the Lions have come agonizingly close to division titles and playoff relevancy only to fail miserably. It’s time for that recent negative trend to come to an end.
A strong offseason, organizational unity, and buying into Matt Patricia’s vision will no doubt have the Detroit Lions going in the right direction sooner rather than later. The Lions nabbed their guy as head coach, now let’s be wary of saddling him with unrealistic expectations from a franchise itching for success.