The Detroit Lions lack interest on the national stage because of their failures at quarterback. And it dooms them to continue losing.
The Detroit Lions caught some headlines on Tuesday involving quarterback Matthew Stafford. According to the Miami Herald, before the 2018 season, then Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase put out a feeler to Lions head coach Matt Patricia about the possibility of acquiring Stafford.
In reality, this just looks like two guys chatting about their teams, not an actual trade offer. And, in the end, Patricia simply shot down the possibility.
Truth be told, Stafford was just beginning his contract extension last season, so the cap hit would have been enormous on a trade. And for Patricia, it would be illogical to dump his quarterback before having even coached him.
But there is a larger problem here, and it was discussed on Tuesday’s Locked on Lions podcast by host Matt Dery (03-26-19, “Vol. 560”):
"“I never believe that Martha Firestone Ford, [her] daughter Sheila, Bob Quinn – [also known as] ‘The Maestro,’ Patricia… I don’t think any of these people are looking to trade Matthew Stafford anytime soon. If 2019 is a carbon copy of 2018, I still don’t think the Lions are going to pull the trigger on their now 11-year veteran quarterback…”"
There is no fault in what Dery said. He’s right. The Detroit Lions will not trade Matthew Stafford. But that is a problem because this ownership is too involved with the day-to-day operations and would never allow it to happen, even if Stafford plays terrible again.
Now, a trade could not have happened last year (and probably even this year) because of the contract extension. But that extension has ownership’s finger prints all over it. Last year could have been a franchise tag season for Stafford. And the Detroit Lions could have played wait and see with the position.
And after what happened last season, which was awful for Stafford, the Detroit Lions probably would have declined a second franchise tag. And, if they saw fit, they’d have some leverage on a more reasonable extension.
Instead, they are stuck with a bloated contract. And it is hard not to wonder if general manager Bob Quinn had any say on that extension.
Stafford could have a good season in 2019, and no one is rooting harder for that than me. And, yes, I would want the Lions to draft Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, if he somehow fell to number eight.
But the best reason for drafting Murray is that he is an exciting prospect. And, honestly, this team has not had that kind of excitement since the days of running back Barry Sanders, who Murray has been compared to for his elusive running style.
On Tuesday’s The Dan Patrick Show, host Dan Patrick discussed what it takes to be an interesting team in the NFL, and the Lions got the worst of it (03-26-19, “Hour 3 – Jimmer Fredette”):
"“We’re looking at these teams and they may have one thing in common, aside from being bad. You don’t have star power at the quarterback position. And that’s what makes you interesting… Miami doesn’t have a quarterback – they got Ryan Fitzpatrick. Washington doesn’t have a quarterback – they got Colt McCoy. Detroit does have a quarterback, and they’re not interesting.”"
It doesn’t get much worse than hearing you are bad and you are uninteresting. But unlike these other teams, you have a quarterback and still come off as unimpressive. It defies logic, but somehow this is who the Detroit Lions are.
The idea that Stafford could have another horrendous season and still not be on the trading block is frightening. This franchise loves to double, triple, and quadruple down on their mistakes. And yet, there is never a back-up plan.
The Detroit Lions could have drafted a quarterback high (at least in the first round) in the past several drafts. That would have provided an option, but they refuse to do it.
With the rookie salary cap, that quarterback could be a reasonably priced reserve. And, yes, the team has many holes to fill. But one of those holes is at this position, which has absolutely no depth.
My interest in this team is unwavering, but from a national perspective this Detroit Lions roster is boring. It would be one thing if they were posting 12 wins and competing for Super Bowls, but they are also not good.
Not only do you have an unappealing national presence, but this affects the product on the field as well. The Detroit Lions have a harder time attracting free agents and keeping high profile draft picks because they aren’t compelling.
It needs to get fixed, and all options need to be considered. This team needs to think about its future. The Detroit Lions need to get a dynamic presence behind Matthew Stafford – so they can develop someone that will make this franchise exciting again. And the sooner, the better.