Detroit Lions refuse to improve, sacrificed depth, accept their fate

Detroit Lions president Rod Wood, General Manager Bob Quinn (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions president Rod Wood, General Manager Bob Quinn (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions had an opportunity to improve before the trade deadline. Yet, they ignored it, sacrificed depth instead and have thus accepted their fate.

The Detroit Lions had a clear need before Tuesday’s trading deadline. They needed a running back. With starting running back Kerryon Johnson suffering a knee injury that landed him on Injured Reserve, the Lions had to make a trade for a starting-caliber runner.

Instead, Detroit’s front office was unable to reach deals with anyone, regulating the team to a running back by committee approach using sixth-round rookie Ty Johnson and veteran castaways Tra Carson, J.D. McKissic, and Paul Perkins.

It’s a group that totaled 59 rushing yards against the New York Giants over the weekend. And the Giants possess one of the worst run defenses in the NFL, allowing an average of 122.4 yards on the ground per contest.

Despite the obvious need, the Lions seemingly ignored names like Melvin Gordon and Rashaad Penny. They failed to find common ground with the Miami Dolphins for Kenyan Drake or the Atlanta Falcons for Devonta Freeman. Drake ultimately went to the Arizona Cardinals for a conditional sixth-round pick in 2020. (really Detroit – you lowballed that offer?)

Instead, the Lions only move was to send a promising young safety and team captain, starter Quandre Diggs, along with a 2021 seventh-round selection to the Seahawks for a fifth-rounder in 2020. Subsequently, fellow starting safety Tracy Walker was injured against the Giants. And it became painfully obvious that Detroit had sacrificed quality depth for a lousy Day Three pick.

By sending Diggs away and not trading for a running back, the message in Detroit is loud and clear. The Lions have accepted their fate as they sit at 3-3-1, third place in the NFC North behind the 7-1 Green Bay Packers and the 6-2 Minnesota Vikings. The Lions have already suffered losses to both the Packers and the Vikings. And they would need no minor miracle to win the division.

Detroit will continue to rely solely on the arm of quarterback Matthew Stafford to win ball games. Running the ball in the Motor City is an afterthought and only exists to set up the pass. And the defense was regressed despite the presence of ‘genius’ head coach Matt Patricia being in Year Two.

In the end, the Lions’ front office has all but waved the white flag of surrender. The team will take their lumps this season and hope to reload for 2020. It’s hard to interpret their actions in any other way.

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If the Detroit Lions honestly believed they were on the cusp of playoff relevance, why would you disrupt team chemistry and sacrifice depth by trading away a team captain midseason for next to nothing? And why would you not do everything in your power to acquire a starting-caliber running back to help Matthew Stafford and the passing offense?

The answer, I’m afraid, points to the Lions’ front office not seeing this season as being salvageable. Regardless of what they might say in the press, their actions speak volumes.