Matthew Stafford, Matt Patricia have plenty of fans outside of Detroit
By Robert Jones
Anyone who has been a Lions fan for awhile understands just how hopeless this franchise seems. They can ruin a weekend in ways that other NFL teams have never dreamed of or conceptualized.
But the long cruel history the Lions have woven in the 60 years since they were last NFL champions isn’t something that can be changed overnight.
The comparison Willie McGinest made between Patricia and Belichick was interesting. While Patricia took over a 9-7 team that just missed the playoffs and led them to a 6-10 record, it really wasn’t any different than when Belichick arrived in New England.
The Patriots were 8-8 in 1999 before Belichick was hired. He led them to a 5-11 finish in his first season. However, the stakes rise considerably from there as the Patriots catapulted themselves to Super Bowl XXXVI in his second year on the bench, beating the favored Rams 20-17.
I don’t know that we can rightfully expect that kind of jump for the Lions next season under Matt Patricia, but I do think next season should be a fairly good barometer of where the Patricia era is headed.
If the defense continues to improve as expected and Matthew Stafford can rebound under the guidance of new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and freshly hired Sean Ryan as his quarterbacks coach, then there is no reason the Lions shouldn’t be battling for a playoff berth.
Obviously the offseason additions general manager Bob Quinn will make in free agency and the draft will go a long way towards any resurgence the Lions are able to make, but in the end, this team is going to either succeed or fail because of the performances of Patricia and Stafford.
There are many NFL insiders who really seem to believe in the direction that Patricia is leading this team. Just like there are several Stafford supporters who think that he can accomplish so much in the right system with the right help.
From a purely rational standpoint, I get both of those sentiments and agree with them. But unfortunately, the one thing Lions history has taught us is that this franchise isn’t big on being rational. For Patricia and Stafford to make the Lions true contenders or even better, world champions, they will have to earn it.