The Detroit Lions should give Quinn and Patricia another year at the helm. The change that needs to be made is to stick with a plan.
It was tough to watch the Detroit Lions lose again on Thanksgiving. The Chicago Bears are not a good team, although quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is seemingly fitted for a Hall of Fame jacket after playing the Lions twice this year.
The best thing about the game was that the Lions gave a good effort, and didn’t lay down for their division rival. Last week, Pro Football Talk Live’s host Mike Florio talked about the possibility of the Detroit Lions firing general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia.
It is clear that many people want to see this change made, but Florio had a different take (11-27-19, “#2”):
"“Ultimate Lions’ move. Sixty years of horrible culture and losing. Not giving an opportunity to turn the Lions into a mini-Patriots – a chance to fully take root. And throwing everything out, and starting over yet again, yet again, yet again. And they wonder why they can’t get out of their own way.”"
This is painful to write: Quinn and Patricia must be given another year. This season has been nothing short of a disappointment. Quinn has made some big mistakes on draft picks. The play on defense makes every fan in this town very apprehensive about Patricia as a coach.
But there is a culture problem with this team. And this is going to take time.
The fear is that more time will be given to these guys and they will continue to fail. But there is only one consideration to be made in terms of the failures of this year: the loss of quarterback Matthew Stafford.
If Stafford had played the last four games (which were, of course, all losses), the Detroit Lions would have won at least two of those games. That would put their record at 5-6-1, and in the hunt for a playoff spot.
With the way the Stafford was playing combined with the bad teams over this four-game stretch (Chicago Bears twice, Washington Redskins, and a very beatable Dallas Cowboys), the Lions could have easily won three. And four isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
This was the stretch of games to make up for a tough schedule during the first half of the season. Imagine if the Lions were 7-4-1 right now. This season would have a completely different feel. But they are 3-8-1 because of their quarterback’s injury.
Stafford was playing at a high level. And while he couldn’t help the sorry coverage and tackling on this team, he could make the offense hum.
But neither Driskel nor Blough can play at Stafford’s level. Anyone wanting either of those two to take the reigns next season is probably rooting for the Lions’ opponents. They can’t make the throws that Stafford makes, plain and simple. They are not worthy of a starting position.
And what little success Driskel and Blough have had speaks directly to a good hire in offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. He has righted the ship this season. But Bevell’s offense is much better with Stafford under center.
This team needs more time. Things could have been different with Stafford playing this entire year. But things will be different if Quinn and Patricia are given enough time. This franchise has failed for six decades. Firing Quinn and Patricia would fit right in with that sixty years of mistakes.
If not for falling into an unearned fortune with the greatest running back in the history of the NFL – Barry Sanders, if you don’t know – this team would not have any history of being a Super Bowl contender. Had the Detroit Lions been able to pair Barry with a consistent quarterback (or stuck with Erik Kramer), things might have gone differently. But they didn’t because they always make the wrong move.
There is a change that is needed. And that change is to be patient in this case. Quinn and Patricia are trying to establish a new way of thinking for this franchise. And there is an opportunity to lay actual groundwork for a Super Bowl contender.
This could very well blow up in their faces, but it is the Detroit Lions’ best option at this point. Starting again will only mean resetting the clock, and probably beginning another false start with whomever they hire.
See this through. And let Quinn and Patricia – combined with a healthy Stafford – take a real run in 2020.