The Detroit Lions are not in “win now” mode

Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

While it would make sense for the Detroit Lions to be in “win now” mode, there’s no need for them to be, and their actions show that they know that.

When Jim Caldwell was hired as the Detroit Lions‘ head coach heading into the 2014 season, Lions brass told the media during his introductory press conference that their goal was to win now.

It seemed obvious — All-Pro wide receiver Calvin “Megatron” Johnson was aging, star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was in a contract year, and Caldwell was set to work his quarterback magic on Matthew Stafford to make him one of the best passers in the league.

Four years later, the Lions have a different general manager in Bob Quinn and now a new head coach in Matt Patricia. Johnson has long retired and Suh has long departed. Yet with star players like Ezekiel Ansah and Golden Tate in contract years and quarterback Matthew Stafford now on the wrong side of 30, most Lions fans will still argue that the Lions have to win now.

Take a closer look at the way the Lions have set themselves up for the future, however, and you’ll see that’s not the case. Since Quinn took over as general manager, the Lions have not made many splash signings in free agency.

They’ve largely plucked stopgap players from the market on heavily incentivized deals, with the primary exception being wide receiver Marvin Jones‘ five-year, $40 million deal that is now one of the best bargains in the league given the inflation of the wide receiver market.

To complement that, the Lions have had much better success in the draft since Quinn took over. While former general manager Martin Mayhew was notorious for being extremely hit or miss in the draft, Quinn has consistently nabbed solid contributors while rarely having complete misses. Coincidentally (or not), just about all the defensive players Quinn selected in his first two seasons seem to have a very clear-cut role in Patricia’s defense.

To top things off, the Lions have made it clear that they’re committed to the future. 24/7 Sports’ Max Demara illustrated how the Lions could have as many as 11 draft picks going into next year’s draft:

"“Regardless if the Lions add one compensatory selection, two or none at all, the team has built up a substantial draft pick haul for 2019 already,” wrote Demara. “In addition to the team’s six original picks, they also have an extra fifth round pick … an extra sixth round pick … and an extra seventh round pick … “"

Patricia and Quinn are here to stay, as the Lions extended Quinn this offseason to match Patricia’s contract and keep them both through the 2022 season. It’s clear that the Lions are in it for the long haul, even if it means Patricia takes time to find the right way to operate this team.

Detroit Free Press’ Carlos Monnarez picked up on a quote from Quinn in Patricia’s introductory press conference that went largely unnoticed, but it confirms what the front office’s actions have suggested:

"“Matt and I want to win now, but we’re going to win the right way,” Quinn told the Detroit Free Press. ” … So, we’re not putting any timelines or timetables on when we’re going to win what.”"

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With a new dynamic duo in town in Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia, a timeline that puts them in no hurry, and a lack of commitment to win now that you rarely find in major league sports these days; it is evident that the Detroit Lions are in no rush to win. The Ford family trusts the two to put their plan to work and bring the Pride a championship, even if it takes time.