How will the 2020 Detroit Lions fix their fourth-quarter woes?

Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

How will the Detroit Lions address their fourth-quarter woes in 2020?

After posting just three wins last season, the Detroit Lions surely have many issues to address in preparation for 2020. Although, their biggest seems to be finding a way to keep their franchise quarterback upright and healthy for the entire year.

The Lions started last season 3-4-1 with 11-year veteran passer Matthew Stafford under center. But after losing him midway through the 2019 season due to injury, Detroit failed to win a single contest. Keeping the 32-year old healthy appears to be the real key to the Lions becoming a potential playoff contender in 2020.

But having Stafford in the lineup wasn’t the team’s only glaring issue last year. One of their biggest obstacles was simply finishing games. While the Lions often found themselves with the lead late in games, holding on to those leads was a real problem in 2019.

Here’s what ESPN’s Bill Barnwell pointed out about the Lions’ fourth-quarter woes from last year after naming Detroit one of five teams he’s pegged as most likely to improve in 2020.

"“They couldn’t hold on to their leads in the fourth quarter. Detroit lost five games in which it held a lead inside of the final 15 minutes. No other NFL team last season lost three. In four of those games, it held a lead in the final seven minutes. No other NFL team lost two such games.”"

Last season, the Lions’ defense finished 31st in the NFL in yards allowed (6,406). Detroit ranked dead last in passing defense allowing 284.4 yards through the air to opposing defenses. And they ranked 21st against the run, allowing 115.9 yards on the ground per contest.

At times, the Lions’ defense was a sieve, allowing opponents to march down the field and seal the victory late. When they failed to hold on to fourth-quarter leads, it shifted the onus back to the offense to try and keep pace.

Obviously, not having your franchise quarterback under center didn’t aid those issues. But it wasn’t solely responsible for it as well.

This is especially frustrating due to the fact head coach Matt Patricia was brought to the Motor City in early 2018 due, in large part, to his defensive prowess. As the defensive coordinator for the New England Patriots for six years, Patricia helped that organization win two Super Bowls during his run as DC.

It was believed that the former Pat would bring that same defensive success to Detroit. But that hasn’t been the case as the Lions’ defense saw a steep decline in play during Patricia’s second season at the helm.

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While the Detroit Lions are certainly hoping another slew of offseason changes will improve their defensive play in 2020, it could be an offensive addition that might have the biggest impact on the team’s fourth-quarter woes.

A successful running game can do wonders for extending fourth-quarter leads into wins. Rookie running back D’Andre Swift, along with a healthy Kerryon Johnson, could be the key to capping those victories in the final frame by sapping the play clock and not allowing the opponent’s offense to even get back on the field late.