Did the Detroit Lions lose the season by not making this move in the offseason?
As you’ve probably heard by now, the Detroit Lions entered the 2020 NFL regular season with a mandate from ownership. And that was to be a playoff contender this year. Four games out of the gate and things aren’t looking good.
Having lost three of their first four games, the Lions appear to be on the brink of a third-straight disappointing season under head coach Matt Patricia. And the team will need to make a run soon to save his job in Detroit, and possibly general manager Bob Quinn’s as well.
What will likely be remembered as the biggest failure for Patricia will be his inability to create a championship defense to the Motor City. After all, the former defensive coordinator of the New England Patriots for six seasons led that unit to six-straight conference championship games. And many viewed Patricia as a defensive guru before his arrival in Detroit.
But that was nearly three years ago. And the Lions’ defense currently ranks 28th in average yards allowed (405.0) and 29th in average points allowed (31.8). Last season, Detroit ended the year with the second-worst defensive unit in the league and a 3-12-1 record.
That’s when owner Martha Ford made the not-so-subtle mandate that the Lions must be playoff contenders in 2020, with a focus on playing meaningful games in the month of December. That was expected to motivate both Quinn and Patricia to make some major changes this offseason.
Yet, this spiraling duo opted to stick to the plan they had put in place back in early 2018. That was to change the “losing” culture in Detroit by continuing to churn the roster with their kind of players. Those players mainly consisting of former Patriots like linebacker Jamie Collins, safety Duron Harmon, and defensive tackle Danny Shelton.
One area the Lions continued to ignore was pass rush. In fact, Detroit opted to part ways with one of their top sack leaders this offseason in linebacker Devon Kennard. In his two-year stint with the Lions, Kennard registered a whopping 14.0 sacks.
Kennard’s currently starting with the Arizona Cardinals instead and has recorded 2.0 sacks in three games. That sack total would be enough to co-lead the Lions alongside defensive end Romeo Okwara right now.
The Lions needed to find a consistent pass rusher to play opposite of defensive end, Trey Flowers, this offseason. And there were plenty of options to be found in free agency. Yet, Detroit opted to address this need in the draft.
That’s where they found Romeo’s brother, Julian Okwara, a defensive end out of Notre Dame, in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Yet, the rookie has barely seen the field, having played a total of 25 defensive snaps in three-game appearances.
As a result, the Lions’ pass rush is among the worst in the entire NFL. The defense has recorded just 5.0 total sacks in four games, which is tied for the lowest amount in the league. And Detroit has registered just six quarterback hurries in total, by far the worst in the NFL.
At this point, it’s looking like not finding a pass rusher this offseason is the biggest failure by the Detroit Lions this year. And that just tops a long list of reasons why a rebuild is very likely in the Lions’ near future.