After finishing 9-7, second in the NFC North division, and firing head coach Jim Caldwell, Matt Patricia was brought in from arguably the best football dynasty of all-time in the New England Patriots. Patricia is tallied with establishing the “Patriot Way” in Detroit that General Manager, Bob Quinn wants.
On paper, the 2018 roster to hit Ford Field looked promising on both sides of the football to compete for a NFC North title. The Lions’ have not been able to put all the pieces together week-to-week. The word that describes this Lions’ season is inconsistency. The offense, at times, has fired on all cylinders with a balanced, run/pass style of play and looked like they could compete against any defense in the NFL. Then the next week, they can’t run the football forcing offensive coordinator, Jim Bob Cooter, and quarterback, Matthew Stafford, to be one dimensional.
The same concept carries over to the defense. The front seven some weeks control the line of scrimmage and stopped the run, but two games later get shredded. Pass coverage will be top notch being in receivers’ hip pockets for most of the game with a pass rush to support, to giving a quarterback five to six seconds to throw and make it impossible for the secondary to keep up and give up almost 400 yards in the air passing.
It takes time to build an organization like Detroit from the bottom of the barrel where they have been for 50 years. Bob Quinn has done an excellent job of filling needs through the draft. No draft will ever be perfect, but If history repeats itself, the majority of talent brought into Detroit will make a positive impact. It will be interesting to see Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia work together to get the best talent possible in Detroit to fit their schemes with their first draft together.
It was clear when the Lions’ traded wide receiver and most dynamic player, Golden Tate, to the Philadelphia Eagles, the “win right now” attitude was lifted. Though it hurt the offense, Bob Quinn did the right thing to trade him now to get something in return instead of letting him walk after the season for nothing because the Lions are not going to pay him what he wants at 30 years of age. Marvin Jones Jr, and upcoming pro-bowler, Kenny Golladay, on the outsides will be a strong tandem for years to come.
Finding another Tate is a tall order, but the Lions’ clearly believe rookie, Brandon Powell, can be that guy Tate was moving forward. He has very similar characteristics in the sense of athleticism. Tate is bigger and stronger, but Powell is just as shifty as Tate is. He is also younger and cheaper to allow Detroit to address other concerns on the team.
Right guard, T.J. Lang is walking away after this season in Detroit. If the Lions’ can find another Frank Ragnow type of prospect to help open up more run lanes for Kerryon Johnson, the Lions’ could have a top 15 run attack in 2019.
The Lions’ need to find another running back to compliment Kerryon Johnson. LeGarrette Blount is just too slow and stiff to be the change of pace back in Detroit. Blount likely won’t be in a Lions’ uniform again next season.
The big question in Detroit is: should the Lions’ trade Matthew Stafford? Of course, fans are saying that because he has not had a strong year in Detroit. He has cost the Lions’ a few potential wins this season, there is no arguing that. But to say he is the main reason the Lions’ are 4-8 this year is naïve. Fans in Carolina are wanting to trade Cam Newton right now because of their recent struggles, too, though he won league MVP in 2015. Stafford is not going anywhere, and Detroit fans need to be okay with that because he is one consistent run game away from being a top 10 quarterback in the NFL.
If the Lions don’t find a way to get more success on offense, though decimated by injuries, don’t be surprised if a new offensive coordinator will be in Detroit for the start of the 2019 season.
No defense is good without a defensive line that can play with gap integrity in the run game and get pressure on the quarterback. The number one need defensively is getting consistent defensive end play each week outside of Ezekiel Ansah. He is not as strong of a pass rusher as in years past. He needs another body across from him to get back to the play he accomplished back in 2015. Every aspect of the defense will improve having a consistent pass rush.
The secondary will be a huge question mark heading into the 2019 season. Glover Quin needs to go at free safety. He will always be a ball-hawking safety when he can get his hands on the football. He has lost a step in his game and does not tackle well in space. Speed kills in the NFL, and Glover Quin does not have that anymore to be what the Lions’ need at that position in their man-to-man heavy scheme.
A corner opposite of Darius Slay needs to be addressed in Detroit four weeks ago. Teez Tabor has proven that he cannot play corner in the NFL. He may be better suited as a true pass defender at free safety where he can react to the quarterback’s eyes.
The defense is improving each week, especially in the run game. The Lions’ just have to find a way to move the football offensively without their prime time players. Two very winnable games are up next for the Lions against the Cardinals and Bills to get back on the right track with the Vikings and Packers to conclude the 2018 season.
Featured image courtesy of Detroit Free Press
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