The Detroit Lions were hindered by the loss of their starting quarterback. But, with a higher draft pick, it might be the best thing to happen this season.
Sunday’s 38-17 beating by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers brought this awful Detroit Lions season one step closer to ending. The goal now is to only finish this season with nine straight losses, and hope the team can crack the top four (maybe even the top two) of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Some might argue that a nine-game losing streak is bad and will carry over into next season. An argument that makes little sense, especially considering that eight of those losses will be without the team’s best player and leader: quarterback Matthew Stafford, who was officially placed on Injured Reserve on Tuesday.
If this losing streak happened with Stafford under center, then that argument holds water. But this team never addressed the back-up quarterback spot, and it showed itself with sub-par play – especially by third-string quarterback David Blough, who has regressed since his fast start on Thanksgiving Day.
With head coach Matt Patricia now at the helm officially for his third season, this is truly about changing the culture of this team. A change that has been difficult these past two seasons. But the hope is that this team can finally win the division next year, and reach the Super Bowl within the next 3-5 years.
A certain (mediocre) level isn’t enough anymore. The Detroit Lions need to get in the conversation of being an elite franchise. But, unfortunately, that kind of change takes a commitment of time, and it means having to watch the team rebuild everything from the ground up.
Patricia has failed in many respects this season. The defense still looks as putrid as it did last year (and probably a bit worse actually). This must be fixed. And Patricia must show a big change in this department right from the first game next September.
But what general manager Bob Quinn and Patricia did not count on this season was the loss of Stafford. The Lions would probably at least have stuck around .500 with a healthy starting quarterback. But without him, this team was doomed.
But is it so bad? Had they hung around .500 and maybe finished the season with 7 (and a half) to 8 (and a half) wins, it would not have put them in the playoffs. But it probably would have placed the team outside of the top ten of the draft.
The Lions have a chance to pick in the top five of the draft. They can acquire some much-needed talent to help on the defensive side of the ball. And they can count upon their quarterback being fully healthy in 2020, as he has time let his back fully heal.
There was no reason to fire Quinn and Patricia this year – the plan only got pushed back a year because of Stafford’s injury. This is the best scenario for this season, especially if an impact player (and let’s hope for two or three players of this ilk) is selected in the draft. Next year is a fresh start.
And, yes, this is the last chance for Quinn and Patricia. They will not survive another year like this. But maybe they can make the leap to something great next year. Continuity and patience might just pay-off with some results in 2020. And see the Detroit Lions actually be a contender.