Detroit Lions: Fractured franchise, Less owner involvement

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

The Detroit Lions are a broken organization. Much of the issues fall to an ownership that is way too involved in football decisions.

During the 2018 season, the Detroit Lions played both participants of the recent Super Bowl. The Lions were able to beat the winner (The New England Patriots) during a Week 3 contest, and came up short against the loser (The Los Angeles Rams) during a Week 13 meeting.

Both of these games provided an opportunity for Detroit to measure itself against the best in the NFL. The funny thing is, in terms of where this team stands, the win over the Patriots may have meant less than the loss to the Rams.


Author Michael Lombardi’s book “Gridiron Genius: A Master Class in Winning Championships and Building Dynasties in the NFL” is a must-read for any fan of professional football (first pages available here). Right now, I am reading the book for a second time – mostly because I love the stories and insights that Lombardi has from his years in various front offices.

Lombardi was on a radio show called “The Border Patrol” last week, and he discussed the reasons why the Patriots improve as the season moves along (02-07-19, “Michael Lombardi”):

"“(The New England) scheme is very simplistic. What they install; what they do. That’s why early in preseason, that’s why early in the season, they’re not as effective.”"

That can explain Detroit’s Week 3 victory over the Patriots. Yes, it was a nice (and first) win for the resume of head coach Matt Patricia. But it was also a bit hollow considering the usual slow start in New England.

Can the “Year One” combination of general manager Bob Quinn and coach Patricia be looked upon as a necessary destruction of what came prior? Maybe this was their form of a slow start.

The team certainly wasn’t effective – lousy 6 and 10 record. But was it a necessary first step towards building a winner in Detroit? Lombardi continued by talking about the foundation of Patriot football:

"“It always starts with a very basic foundation. Right? And then it becomes elaborate, as they build off the foundation. That’s the Patriot way. Their system of defense is very simplistic. But it’s specifically tailored each week for the opponent. And that’s where the complexity and the layers came in.”"

This process even applies to the Detroit Lions as they move forward. Last season set the foundation. From here, Quinn and Patricia need to build the roster, the team, and the culture of this franchise into a winner. That first year was about figuring exactly what they had – before they can start acquiring what they need.