Feb. 26, 2019
Lions Look: Limping To The Finish Line
If you are a Detroit Lions fan, the 2018 season cannot end fast enough.
In August, the outlook was hopeful. Head coach Jim Caldwell was dismissed by general manager Bob Quinn due to turning in an "unacceptable" 9-7, non-playoff campaign. Many believed, some for the first time, that mediocrity would not be tolerated by the Martha Firestone Ford owned Lions. In Caldwell's stead, Matt Patricia, the defensive coordinator from the New England Patriots dynasty, was brought in to take this woebegone franchise to heights rarely seen by any Lion fan alive.
In December, however, that optimism has been shattered, with that ever prevalent fatalism that the Lions faithful know all too well. With injuries rendering the offense to a punchless unit even as the defense has greatly improved over the past four months, this would be the story played out at Ford Field as Detroit fell to the playoff hopeful Minnesota Vikings, 27-9.
Your humble scribe always believed that the Lions under Patricia was going to be rebuilding, even if no one in Allen Park would publicly admit it. A disciple of Bill Belichick, Patricia prefers to run a 3-4 defensive alignment. Because the Lions have run a 4-3 front seven since 1994, there would be an understandable period of transition, as much of the players on the roster are not proper fits. But as much as the defense has improved, the offense regressed immensely, probably due in part to the impetus to run the ball more. While the Lions found a new ground game, quarterback Matt Stafford has struggled. His greatest sin would be pride, as many of Stafford's errors were borne of doing too much and trying too hard. Perhaps feeling the pressure, be it internally or externally, of justifying his outsized contract, but no one really knows. Add to this the litany of injuries that have plagued the Lions over the course of the season, and this combination would derail not only any of Detroit's playoff aspirations, but also rob the team's ability to even remain competitive. The Lions (5-10) are headed to their worst season since 2012 and their worst in the Martha Firestone Ford era. Hopefully, both Quinn and Patricia will be given the opportunity to install their culture into the Lions locker room. Yes, they had a brutal season, but they have only one campaign under their belt. Give it another year or two before making any conclusions.
The Lions will close out the 2018 season in Wisconsin, as they will play the Green Bay Packers, who are enduring their own disappointing year. Detroit will try to extend their three game win streak over their former tormentors, while the Pack look to end this miserable season on a high note as they enter the off-season looking for a new head coach. Pride will be the only thing on the line, so who have more of it?