Is current regime in charge of the Detroit Lions in desperation mode as Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia are tasked with making Motown a winner in 2020.
It’s hard to imagine that only three seasons ago the Detroit Lions appeared to be on the fringe of winning their first playoff game since 1992. The hiring of Matt Patricia as head coach was supposed to push the Lions over that hump and to that elusive postseason win. It hasn’t.
In fact, Patricia’s presence has resulted in the exact opposite, sinking the long-suffering franchise to an embarrassing 9-22-1 record since taking the reins in the Motor City. Owner Martha Firestone Ford granted Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn another season to see if their plan to change the culture in Detroit can actually equate to winning football games.
But with Ford’s mandate to make the Lions a playoff contender in 2020, you’d figure Quinn and Patricia would go all out this offseason to try to turn their 3-12-1 roster into the best possible team they can.
Yet, through the first full week of free agency, it appears to be business as usual. Quinn and Patricia continue to draw talent from their former employer, the New England Patriots, signing free-agent linebacker Jamie Collins, defensive tackle Danny Shelton, and then trading with the Pats for safety Duron Harmon.
The Lions have also been filling some of the voids along their roster with other free agent signings including offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, defensive tackle Nick Williams, quarterback Chase Daniels, and cornerback Desmond Trufant.
The latter signing seemingly spurred Detroit’s front office to finally trade corner Darius Slay, sending the three-time Pro Bowler to the Philadelphia Eagles for third and fifth-round selections in the upcoming draft.
Although these moves don’t seem to display an urgency by either Quinn or Patricia in an attempt to save their jobs in 2020, one NFL insider says that’s not what he’s hearing from other NFL teams. Here’s what Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports wrote recently about the Lions’ offseason moves so far this season.
"“Relying on former New England players — by executives and coaches who used to work for the Patriots — has not worked out that well, at all, over the years. And with Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia very much trying to keep their jobs in 2020, they went back to that well. The moves seem desperate to their peers. And I believe they face an uphill climb.”"
The Lions did decide to move on from the entire right side of their offensive line, releasing starting right tackle Rick Wagner and allowing guard Graham Glasgow to leave via free agency. Detroit also traded away arguably their best defensive player for rather mediocre draft picks. There certainly seems to be a hint of desperation.
Still, I’m not sure anyone who has followed the Detroit Lions for any significant amount of time would call these moves shocking. In fact, it could be argued that neither Bob Quinn or Matt Patricia seem to be in desperation mode i.e. mortgaging the team’s future to try and win-now. They may simply chock up last year’s failures on the fact quarterback Matthew Stafford missed eight games due to injury and believe a full-season with him under center is their best hope of remaining in Detroit.