The Detroit Lions are rebuild ready barring a miracle

Detroit Lions, Martha Firestone Ford (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions, Martha Firestone Ford (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /
5 of 5
Bob Quinn, Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions
Bob Quinn, Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Detroit Lions – Patricia by the numbers

We’ve already mentioned the most significant number of Patricia’s tenure, he is 10-24-1, including an 11-game slide that killed a promising 2019 and put the 2020 campaign in serious doubt.

His defensive under coordinator Cory Undlin suffers from the same ills that doomed the 2019 unit, poor tackling, poor coverage, and little to no pressure on the quarterback. The Detroit Lions finished last in pass defense in 2019 and are tied for 28th in passing touchdowns allowed this year, with seven, but are allowing fewer yards due to their run defense being even worse so far.

Patricia’s defenses have ranked 16th in points against in 2018 (22.5/ gm), 26th in 2019 (26.4/ gm), and is currently 26th in 2020 (30.7/ gm). Likewise, the yards-per-game averages, 335.0/ gm, which ranked 10th in 2018, 400.4/ gm, which ranked 31st in 2019, and 409.3/gm which is currently 28th have all trended the wrong way for a coach getting “his guys.”

We know that injuries happen and that those create opportunities to look at how these numbers have been shaped but the simple fact is that the above numbers are supported by pass-rush stats, as well.

If we look at a few of Pro Football Reference’s advanced defensive passing statistics by year, we can see the following, blitz percentages from 2018 were16.9%, ranking 31st, 18.0% in 2019, ranking 30th, and this year 22.9%, ranking 24th, and corresponding pressure percentages of 22.5% in 2018, ranking 25th,18.8%  in 2019, ranking 29th, 13.8% for the first three games this season, rank 32nd.

Those are a lot of numbers but what we should notice is that while the blitz percentages have been trending up through this year, the pressure percentages, though, have gone in the opposite direction. Pressure percentages are made up of sacks, hurries, and knockdowns per dropback, so that’s all of the major categories of pressure rolled into one stat. The defense, although the roster is being reconfigured to Patricia’s liking, is not making progress into year three.

We could go on but you get the idea. Another odd thing is the use of rookie, a third-round pick, Jack linebacker, Julian Okwara, who has been used in only two games, and 15 total defensive snaps, despite being healthy; he was even scratched from a game completely despite the lack of pressure the defense has generated.

While we’re discussing the rookies, D’Andre Swift, the second-round pick, three-down running back has logged only 60 snaps, and cornerback, top-five pick, Jeff Okudah has finally gotten work logging 132 snaps in the last two games in which he started. Jonah Jackson, the second of the Detroit Lions two third-round draft picks has been a starter at guard since Day1, earning 195 snaps and almost every down the offense has played.

So, the results have been mixed with regards to rookie use, even when the team has not performed well at those positions. The head coach and general manager are both culpable for the team’s results, though.

Briefly, the offense has held it’s own and needed less help, in general with Matthew Stafford under center. This year the Detroit Lions signed running back Adrian Peterson, a future Hall of Fame player, and he has been the primary ball carrier at 35 years old.  The Lions have ranked 16th in passing yards and 22nd in rushing, good for 19th overall in yards of offense so far with their veteran backfield and missing their best wide receiver, Kenny Golladay, the first two games.

While Darrell Bevell, the offensive coordinator, did a nice job in his first year helping to put Stafford in better positions through his healthy eight games last year, the offense has bogged down a lot in the red zone and not converted as often with placekicker Matt Prater not being quite as sharp early on in the campaign.

Trending. Despite the win, the Detroit Lions have plenty of work to do. light

Conclusion on rebuild possibility

We aren’t trying to be doom-and-gloom or Same Old Lions fans. Looking at the data and the results tell a story.  Maybe it ends with Quinn and Patricia turning this season around and winning a Super Bowl, that would be amazing and long overdue.

If they do that they deserve statues on Woodward Avenue by Joe Louis’ arm that symbolized his and the country’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. If they keep telling the same story that they’ve been telling, however, they deserve the fate that Terry Bradshaw had in mind and we should all be behind that.