Detroit Lions 2017 Season Recap
Our subject today finds themselves trying to reverse long standing misfortune while attempting to build a consistent winner in a division that seemingly offers no respite to lay an ideal foundation. And this off-season may go a long way in deciding their fate for the foreseeable future.
2017 Record: 9-7
2016 Record: 9-7
Win Differential: 0
What Happened: While the Lions did not lose any significant ground in their development, they also did not grow and improve in a measurable form, either. While boasting a top level quarterback in Matt Stafford, an impressive receiving duo in veterans Golden Tate and Marvin Jones, and an emerging All-Pro in cornerback Darius Slay, its weaknesses in rushing offense and a defensive pass rush have left the Lions stuck in the mud. The ineptitude in the ground game is becoming an ignominious legend, as Detroit was dead last in rushing yardage and the last time a Lion ran for 100 yards in a single game was over 4 years ago! Meanwhile, the defense's inability to get to opposing passers went a long way to explain their struggles: 27th in yards allowed, 31st in 1st downs permitted, and 29th in opposing red zone scoring percentage. These glaring deficiencies are the major culprits in the Lions missing the playoffs. Granted, some has to do with Minnesota running hot until late January, but the Packers were rendered lame once Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken clavicle. That meant Detroit had an opportunity, but they failed to capitalize. And with that, a change was made.
What To Expect: Despite a 36-28 record over four years (the first Lions coach to have a winning record over that span in the modern era, by the way), the Lions dismissed head coach Jim Caldwell. With general manager Bob Quinn finishing his second year as Detroit's top football executive, it was clear that he wanted to bring in his own selection as head coach instead of latching his future onto an inherited incumbent. With that in mind, he went back to his former employer to bring in New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia as the new head coach. Quinn's modus operandi has been to instill a culture of winning to Detroit by implementing the Patriots' blueprint. Given the track record of other associate coaches who have strayed from New England's cocoon, to say there has been skepticism would be an understatement. Patricia was hired to shore up a pedestrian defense while trying to find complements to Stafford on offense. With Rodgers returning to full strength, the Minnesota Vikings signing free agent jackpot QB Kirk Cousins, and the Chicago Bears showing strides of improvement, the Lions could be in store for a disappointing season, as the transition to a new coach and subsequent philosophies could hamper the team's current efforts. Then again, if the defense can make big improvements while the offense finds a ground game, then the Lions could be a surprise team that makes noise that no one would see coming. Anything is possible for this club, both positively... And negatively.