The Detroit Lions will have a high first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, but how they use it may be more important than who they choose.
Late in the fourth quarter of last Sunday’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings, FOX NFL television analyst and former Detroit Lions All-Pro linebacker Chris Spielman expressed his belief that head coach Matt Patricia inherited a team that was built for finesse.
And that rebuilding the Lions from the bottom up that focuses on size, strength, and toughness takes time. Spielman believes both Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn deserve more another year as this type of overhaul takes longer to accomplish.
For the long-suffering Lions fans, this assessment caused a harsh backlash. Following the game, Spielman was bombarded on Twitter with a wide variety of passionate rebukes. Spielman did acknowledge that football is a results-oriented business, yet stood firm with his opinion about Quinn and Patricia.
This is not a team that has failed so miserably that it justifies starting all over again. For the past five games, they have been led by rookie quarterbacks obviously unqualified for the job. Does anybody not believe that with Matthew Stafford at quarterback the outcomes would have been totally different?
In Week 14’s game against Minnesota, Patricia’s defense made more big stops and forced field goals instead of touchdowns while holding the Vikings to 22 fewer points since their last encounter. They played with passion and determination, disputing any claim that this team and in particular this defense won’t play their best for this head coach.
Fans want to see victories, but it’s important to recognize that this team is, in fact, much better than their record. It is fair to say that the offense, with a healthy Stafford, is very close to where they need to be. The defense is arguably three or four plays per game at most, away from being a playoff contender right now.
How do the Lions get those plays? First, a pass rush. This is without question the greatest void to fill. Second, building a roster with more quality depth. Teams don’t make excuses for injuries. They say that when one goes down we call for the next man up.
This is a sound philosophy providing you have adequate replacements, but these Lions do not have enough of those players. No single top prospect, even Ohio State defensive end Chase Young, will solve this larger problem.