With a high draft pick, the Detroit Lions may have their best possible outcome. But 2020 is the last chance for things to go right for this current regime.
The Detroit Lions made things interesting this past Sunday with another last-second loss that could have hurt their draft status. Had the Lions beat the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, their draft position would have slipped one spot from the number three pick to the number four pick. Check out the draft order here (Source: Tankathon.com).
But, in the long run, picking at three is going to be very important to this franchise. Not just in the first round, but every round of this upcoming draft, as this team tries to acquire talent and fix all of its ailments.
The Lions aren’t close to winning right now. That is the sobering truth, especially on a morning when many people are suffering hangovers. Fans look at this team and see that they are close in many games, leading in the fourth quarter in a majority, but just unable to finish. But the NFL is built on parity and close games.
The Green Bay Packers were close in many games this season, but they went out and got thirteen victories. That’s what good teams do. That’s what the Detroit Lions have been unable to accomplish – at least not anytime recently.
On Monday’s episode of The Rich Eisen Show, prolific NBC Sports writer Peter King spoke about the coaching changes that are happening throughout the NFL. But one decision was perplexing to King, and it involved the Detroit Lions (12-30-19, “Hour 2”):
"“Could the Lions change their mind after Matt Patricia loses his last nine? Goes 6-25-1 since midseason last year. Matt Patricia is the luckiest man out of everyone this morning because he’s supposed to build a defense. That defense in the last 26 games has allowed 24 points a game. And you get your quarterback hurt … wah wah wah. Everybody gets their quarterback hurt.”"
Peter is right to call head coach Matt Patricia ‘lucky.’ And in many respects, general manager Bob Quinn shared in that bounty of luck. I have agreed with the decision to keep Patricia and Quinn because this team needs to stick with a plan and build something that lasts. But when you look at what has happened these past two years, it is easy to see a path where things go sour again next season.
This team wants to win a championship. This franchise needs to change its thinking when it comes to the commitment it takes to be in the playoffs, win division championships, make it to the Super Bowl, and ultimately be crowned champion.
Super Bowl and championship rings are unlikely to happen in the 2020 season. But there is no reason that this team cannot take the NFC North division.
But this defense must make strides. This Lions organization needs to commit every resource to the defense. What has happened is unacceptable.
The Lions have a quarterback that can lead this team for the next few years in Matthew Stafford. But King is wrong to believe the Lions losing their quarterback doesn’t matter. It mattered plenty. But, in the end, Stafford’s absence put this team in the best position to make something happen with the upcoming draft.
Unfortunately, back-ups Jeff Driskel and David Blough have shown that they are no better than a third-stringer and practice squad player respectively. They both seem like good dudes, and they will probably get more development over the next year. But they are not capable of starting games.
Driskel has the nice added element of being able to run with the ball, but that did lead to him getting injured for the season. Blough has a nice deep ball, but on short and intermediary throws, he looks awful sometimes. They both need a lot of work.
The Detroit Lions might be unable to fix the depth at quarterback this offseason. They can’t waste the draft capital, and no capable back-up is going to choose Detroit – at least not without an outrageous contract that the Lions can’t afford to give.
The best thing that can happen in 2020 is that Stafford stays healthy. Patricia and Quinn may have been lucky enough to lose Stafford and get a high draft pick. Now, they need luck to protect Stafford and get this defense into the top ten of the league.
This past season was a waste. Thankfully, it shook out to a number three pick in the draft. But it was a dreadful watch these past fourteen weeks (record of 1-12 in those weeks).
There is no happy new year now – at least football-wise in Detroit. The only way for this to be a happy year is for this team to win come September through the end of December. If this team is sitting on a bye and waiting for the divisional round by the end of this calendar year, then 2021 can truly be a happy new year.