The Detroit Lions are brought to you by the number three

Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions are at a major crossroads. If they ever want to become a championship-caliber team, what they do next could have a big impact.

The number three plays a huge role in the rest of the Detroit Lions season. With just three games left, they need to lose them all to put themselves in the best possible position in the 2020 NFL Draft. According to, the Lions with their three (and a half) wins are now sitting in the fifth spot of the draft:

  1. Cincinnati Bengals (1-12)
  2. New York Giants (2-11)
  3. Washington Redskins (3-10)
  4. Miami Dolphins (3-10)
  5. Detroit Lions (3-9-1)
  6. Arizona Cardinals (3-9-1)

But with three more losses, which will bring their streak of losses to nine straight (which is nicely divisible by three), the Detroit Lions might be able to crack the top three of the draft. Selecting that high should guarantee the Lions a top-end defensive talent – like Ohio State’s defensive end Chase Young.

For the next number three, we go to Detroit and find Chris Spielman’s aptly named weekly video segment: “3 and Out with Chris Spielman.” And the topic of conversation for this week was whether or not general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia should be given their third year as the men in charge of this franchise.

Here are Spielman’s thoughts on the subject (“Week 14”):

"“Look at the San Francisco 49ers… the first year with Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch, they were 6 and 10. The second year, they were 4 and 12. And now this year, they’re 11 and 2. So, I do think three years is the proper barometer to make that measurement … What [Quinn and Patricia] were trying to do … be a team that’s a physical football team … they’re trying to build their roster that way.”"

This third year for Quinn and Patricia is very important. While the running game is not nearly as effective as fans had hoped it would be, it is vastly improved since Patricia took the reigns. And it has been done with their best running back – Kerryon Johnson – battling injuries the past two years.

The problem has been and continues to be a defense that looks lost. Certainly more resources are needed on that side of the ball in terms of talent. And that part of the equation falls on Quinn. But Patricia hasn’t gotten the most he could out of the defense. And that is disappointing, as many expected Patricia to out scheme his opponents on that side of the ball.

But for the sake of this franchise, a third year under Quinn and Patricia is necessary for any future success. If someone new is brought in to the fold, it will probably mean yet another reset of this roster and the team’s philosophy. And this team will be looking for someone new (yet again) in probably another year or two.

This vicious cycle has to end. And this is the time. With one more year under Quinn and Patricia, the Detroit Lions should be able to turn things around and show some real progress.

The biggest key to winning next year will be how Patricia can evolve as a head coach. This team has stuck around week after week for the entire season. But next year, this team needs to close out games. And that falls directly on Patricia’s shoulders.

For those wanting a change, keep in mind: this is not a job that will attract top talent (management, coaching, or playing) because they lack stability. So, the firing of Quinn and Patricia will only lead to adding to this team’s bad reputation.

Do you think anyone of value wants to come here? For what? For two years of failure and leaving your career worse off than when you arrived?

Patricia and Quinn are smart guys that know football. One more year to see this thing through is the only viable option for a franchise that is in constant flux. If the Detroit Lions want a championship, this is the only path that they can take.

My official fandom for this team began thirty years ago (also nicely divisible by three) with the drafting of what would be the all-time greatest Detroit Lions player – running back Barry Sanders. And for my money, the best to ever put on an NFL uniform in any era and at any position – he was that special.

Before Sanders’ arrival, the Lions were not worthy of my attention – being told many times the Lions would never reach a championship level. Barry’s play brought the team the closest it would ever get (1991 NFC Championship Game), and made them a legit threat for most of the 1990s.

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Hopefully, thirty years from now, something will change for this organization. This Detroit Lions team needs to win. And Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia are the best option to get that done.