Detroit Lions: It’s time to execute or face the music

Detroit Lioms (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Detroit Lioms (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Tracy Walker, Detroit Lions (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Tracy Walker, Detroit Lions (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Can the Lions overcome their biggest fundamental problem?

When general manager Bob Quinn brought in his good friend Matt Patricia two years ago as the Lions head coach, this was a franchise that was not very deep on talent, but still had enough to have made a couple of playoff appearances under their former head coach Jim Caldwell.

The assumption was that Bill Belichick’s former defensive apprentice would take the reigns and steer the Lions to greater heights immediately.

Instead, Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia went into rebuild mode. They didn’t announce that was their intention since they didn’t want a revolt in the streets, but it should have been pretty clear that’s where they were headed when they basically gutted the defensive line and started signing players off the trash heap.

The defense was lost and clueless. Now the true Belichick defensive scheme, which Patricia has opted to use, is complex and if the players don’t know what they’re doing, then it can only mean disaster.

And that’s exactly what it was; a disaster. Until the acquisition of Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison. Once Harrison was inserted into the lineup the defense became much better. It actually became one of the better defenses in the league over the second half of the season and finished as the 10th ranked defense overall.

This led to greater expectations for the Lions defense going into last season. Instead, they couldn’t stop anyone. Both the defensive line and linebackers turned in subpar years and it affected everything.

The Lions couldn’t stop the run or consistently put pressure on opposing passers. Add in the trade of safety Quandre Diggs because of personality differences or he didn’t buy-in to Matt Patricia’s system, whichever you want to believe, and it was no wonder the secondary struggled as well.

Now as we look ahead to next season, Bob Quinn has done about as much as can be expected over the course of one offseason to correct and improve the personnel issues that faced this team last season.

It would seem that all of those who were non-believers, like Diggs, Harrison, and Darius Slay who was traded to the Eagles, have been weeded out. And the talent level is satisfactory enough to be improved, despite needing to be deeper in the front seven.

That leads us to perhaps the biggest question regarding one of the fundamental reasons why the defense has failed; will the Lions’ current group of defenders be able to execute this system?