The Detroit Lions have the near-impossible task of making themselves a playoff contender. But Gil Brandt believes the NFC North is more open than most think.
After posting a combined record of nine wins, 22 losses, and a tie in their first two years together with the Detroit Lions, general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia faced unemployment at the end of 2019. They were granted a reprieve by owner Martha Firestone Ford with the caveat that Detroit would become a playoff contender this upcoming season. And one Hall of Famer believes the conditions are right to do so.
The Lions started the season with a 2-0-1 record, beating the Los Angeles Chargers at Ford Field and the Philadelphia Eagles in Philly. The latter would go on to the playoffs after winning the NFC East. But Detroit hit a stumbling block within their own division, going a disappointing 0-6 against NFC North opponents.
Obviously, losing starters like quarterback Matthew Stafford and running back Kerryon Johnson for half the season did the Lions no favors. And the team didn’t win a single contest after Week Eight. Yet, Ford seems to believe that Quinn and Ford can field a highly-competitive team in 2020.
Here’s what longtime executive and Hall of Famer Gil Brandt wrote recently on NFL.com on how good the Lions can be in 2020 and how Quinn, Patricia, and company can keep their jobs moving forward.
"” … in my opinion, the NFC North is more open than people think. I’m not sold on Green Bay, which finished 13-3 despite ranking in the middle of the pack in most stats, and Aaron Rodgers is on the wrong side of 35. Chicago is facing a serious quarterback question. Minnesota appears to be the team to beat, but I think the Lions should be pretty good if Stafford can stay right.”"
Keeping Stafford under center may seem like a ‘no duh’ notion when it comes to the success of the Lions in 2020. But remember that we are in the midst of tons of draft speculation that has the Lions potentially drafting a quarterback third overall and Detroit allegedly exploring the possibility of trading their veteran passer. (which Quinn denies)
Although it all seems unlikely to happen, many mock drafts do have the Lions going with a defensive choice in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. The favorite prospects being Ohio State cornerback Jeffrey Okudah or Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown. Both would be a welcomed addition on a Detroit defense that ranked 31st in total yards allowed last season.
But how would the selection of either defender help keep a 32-year old quarterback going into his 12th NFL season after missing eight games with a back injury under center for a full 16-games this year? Instead, if Stafford’s health is the priority, offensive line might be the preferred choice by Quinn and company. Especially if the Lions opt to trade down in the first round, which apparently they are open to doing.
During his four years with the Detroit Lions, Bob Quinn has selected an offensive lineman with the team’s first-round selection twice, landing starters in left tackle Taylor Decker and center Frank Ragnow. If keeping Matthew Stafford healthy is truly the goal, selecting an offensive lineman once again in 2020 could be the team’s move to try and achieve the turnaround Martha Ford demands.