Lions Clean House


Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 26, 2020; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia looks up during the second quarter against the Houston Texans at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Matthew Merrifield, Sports Writer

Saturday afternoon, while many NFL teams were preparing for their Sunday matchups, the Lions were coming off an embarrassing 41-25 defeat to the 3-7 Houston Texans on Thanksgiving. This loss brought the Lions to 4-7 on the season and pretty much eliminated any playoff hopes for Detroit, and was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Owner Sheila Ford made the decision to fire both head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn.

Their firings were far from surprising, as the Lions franchise has been trending downward since their arrival. Bob Quinn was director of scouting for the New England Patriots before being named general manager in 2016. In Quinn’s first two seasons the Lions finished 9-7 both times and made the playoffs the first year. Bob Quinn felt that the head coach was the missing piece for the Lions and decided to let go of Jim Caldwell who had taken the Lions to the playoffs twice in his tenure, which is the most playoff appearances by a Lions head coach in the 2000’s. Bob Quinn decided to hire Patriots defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia as the next head coach and fully implement “the patriot way”. This culture however never really resonated with the players and a 9-7  team went 6-10 the first season. The 2019 season was even worse as the Lions finished 3-12-1 after starting the season 2-0-1. This season has been no better as they currently sit at 4-7, but the Lions have been one of the most inconsistent teams in the league. Matt Patricia’s record as Lions head coach finished at 13-29-1 and finished each season in last place in the division (the Lions are currently in last place this season).

Not all the blame rests on Matt Patricia, as there were plenty of problems with Bob Quinn. When Bob Quinn took over in 2016, the Lions were an established team with an elite quarterback looking for someone to take them over the top. However, it seemed that Quinn did the opposite of that. He fired Jim Caldwell, an established coach who the core of the team liked for Matt Patricia, a new head coach that tried implementing a new culture in a team that already had a culture. The new regime upset key players like Damon Harrison and Darrius Slay who both wanted out of Detroit, and both were eventually moved. Quinn also threw lots of money in free agency at former Patriots Trey Flowers and Jamie Collins- both controversial signings. Worst of all, the Lions have drafted poorly since 2016. The only player that Quinn has drafted that’s been of elite-quality is Kenny Golladay in 2017. Rookie D’andre Swift has shown signs that he could be a standout running back in the future. Otherwise, the drafting hasn’t been very good, especially on defense where this team needs the most help.

Quinn and Patricia have left the Lions in complete disarray, and whoever takes over will have a lot of work ahead of them. Luckily there are pieces in place that could entice a good coach to come to Detroit like Robert Saleh or even Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.