Even with a lousy 9-20-1 record through two seasons, Detroit Lions ownership is hoping three is a charm bringing back Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia for 2020.
Detroit Lions ownership met with the local beat writers on Tuesday to inform them both general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia will be back for next season. Surprisingly, yours truly didn’t make the cut. But, due to great work by those who did, I get the sense year two was never going to be the make or break season for this staff.
Though this media stunt may have looked like an effort to calm down a growing anxious fan base calling for heads to roll and for sale signs on Ford Field, I don’t think this was a move to just temper the angst. I believe the Lions shot callers believe this is the right move, and I agree with them.
Per Kyle Meinke of MLive.com, one of the chosen few to attend this meeting of fate, Sheila Ford Hamp, stated the Ford’s made this decision for what’s right knowing it might cause even more of an uproar within the Lion’s den.
"“[Firing Patricia] would have been the popular choice, the popular decision, and we knew that. But as I say, we’re doing what is right for the organization.”"
The Lions have a 9-20-1 record under Patricia. But what is more alarming is year number two for him is going to have fewer wins than year one, a hard sell to the most desperate fan base in America. Then you remember Patricia took over a 9-7 team with three winning seasons in it’s previous four and this looks to be going in the wrong direction, a hard sell to any fan base.
But what Patricia took over was a below-average team that had a quarterback good enough to beat the bad teams. In all four seasons under former head coach Jim Caldwell, the Lions were only able to beat one team with a winning record and could never win the big games.
Quinn is now two offseasons into painstakingly picking off players from the previous 4-3 defensive system and replacing them with Patricia’s very ‘player specific’ 3-3-5 scheme players. They have spent valuable resources in getting Patricia system guys as well, ala last year’s second-round pick linebacker Jahlani Tavai and big money contracts to the likes of defensive tackle Damon Harrison and defensive end Trey Flowers.
There is also an underbelly to this rebuild that I don’t think gets the attention compared to the importance it holds. That is the culture change Quinn and Patricia are trying to address.
Detroit has been known through many regimes of the pasts to NFL players as an easy city to collect an overpaid check. There are more demons than just roster talent being exercised in Allen Park right now and the aftermath is sometimes losing talent like wide receiver Golden Tate and safety Quandre Diggs.
With the type of transition in both the roster and locker room, this is not the type of rebuild you cut short. To go all-in on this ‘Quinntricia’ philosophy and pull out after only two seasons would be a waste of time. It would have to be a total collapse to cut this short and despite the awful record and injuries, this team is still competitive and fighting for their team.
I do believe this team is better than last year’s team as well, this was a .500 team in Week 8 before all the injuries. Granted, most early-season success could be contributed to offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, quarterback Matthew Stafford, and the offense … Patricia deserves some of the credit for putting the pieces together.
Bevell was out of football and not on anyone’s list candidates of possibilities for new Lions offensive coordinator and it looks like a perfect marriage with Stafford. Bringing back Patricia is great for Stafford and this offense because it all but guarantees the return of Bevell.
Though as it was defense that made Patricia a head coaching candidate, it will also be what makes him a former head coach if there isn’t a measurable improvement in year three. Ranked 26th total defense, this isn’t what it was supposed to look like for the former Super Bowl winning defensive coordinator. There have been injuries, and this is a process, but after year three your process should overcome injuries to at least show improvement or you can probably chalk it up as a bad process.
In the beginning, I would have said four years, but how poorly things have gone defensively … I’m now at year three or bust for the Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia experiment in Detroit.