Nov. 26, 2019
Lions Look: Here Comes The Revolt
The fires of discontent have been doused with gasoline.
The Detroit Lions, losers of three straight and six of their last seven, came into a sparsely attended FexEx Field to face the Washington Redskins, themselves buried in the quagmire of a lost season. Despite the absence of many key players due to injuries, like QB Matthew Stafford, DE Trey Flowers, C Frank Ragnow, this game was certainly within the team's capabilities to come out victorious. A late Jeff Driskel interception would turn into a 39 yard game winning field goal by Dustin Hopkins to give the Redskins a 19-16 win, their second of the season. The loss sinks the Lions to 3-7-1, only remaining mathematically alive for postseason play, but for all intents and purposes, Detroit will only be playing out the string to conclude the 2019 campaign.
With the next meaningful game for the Lions coming in September 2020, there are legitimate questions about the direction of this franchise. After losing to the dysfunctional Redskins and finding rock bottom as a result, the hot seat that head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn each find themselves on has intensified exponentially. And Quinn specifically should bear the brunt of the most critical scrutiny. Since he became GM after the 2015 season, the Lions have been in decline. From 9-7 and a wild card berth in 2016 (and let's be real; that was with smoke and mirrors when Stafford broke the league's single season record for comebacks), to 9-7 in 2017, to 6-10 in 2018 to now at a point where a full reset of the Lions is in play. To Quinn's credit, he has been aggressive in the spring to procure talent, especially with the spending spree he went this past offseason to bring in Flowers, CB Justin Coleman, and TE Jesse James. But a cursory examination of the progress of these 3 players is a microcosm of Quinn's tenure as Detroit's top football executive; looks great on paper, but the result on the field is lacking. That extends to Patricia, who was Quinn's hand picked choice to succeed Jim Caldwell, the only Lions head coach in the post-merger era to have an overall winning record. That transaction is looking more and more like an unmitigated disaster, as their attempt to emulate the New England Patriots culture in the Motor City has fallen flat. Patricia may be very bright, but it appears he does not learn from his mistakes, as the Lions have regressed defensively to the point of the 2019 unit may be a franchise historical worst. Anyone who witnessed the winless 2008 squad will stipulate as to the bar of ineptitude that could be breached this year. What is becoming abundantly clear as the weeks progress is the Lions organization just made a mistake in hiring Quinn. Despite his association with arguably the greatest dynasty in NFL history, he was not equipped with the talent or skill in assessing talent and ensuring it could be synergisticly woven into the roster. Patricia appears to be in over his head as the boss of the 53 man roster. Their puzzling deadline trades (WR Golden Tate to Philadelphia last year & SS Quandre Diggs to Seattle this year) have seemingly done more damage to the morale of the locker room than the offsetting payoff of draft picks in future years. While conventional wisdom suggests they each should get a third year together to show tangible improvement, has this brain trust done anything objectively to give one the impression that 2020 would be radically different than in 2019? The townfolk are grabbing their pitchforks and are ready to storm the castle gates. Can the organization quell the rebellion, or will there be heads on pikes in the town square?
We have reached the end of November, which means the Lions have their traditional short week to play their annual Thanksgiving Day game against the Chicago Bears. This game looked far more interesting in April than it does now, with both teams just playing for pride. Guess we'll see which one has more.