Barnwell, ESPN: Detroit could be next year's San Francisco

ESPN.com has a story up titled, “Five teams that could be the 49ers of 2020, and all the similarities.” The first team they list is the Lions.

It’s long, so go there for the full write-up. But here are their bullet points:

Similarity: They spent most of 2019 without their starting quarterback. Matthew Stafford was playing arguably the best football of his career before missing the final eight games with a fractured back.

Similarity: They didn’t rack up many interceptions. While the Lions recorded more than the NFL record-low two interceptions that the 49ers generated in 2018, Darius Slay & Co. finished the season with just seven picks across 611 pass attempts, which resulted in a league-low interception rate of 1.1%. The Lions forced just six turnovers during their eight-game losing streak to end the season despite playing teams like the Bears, Broncos and Buccaneers.

Similarity: They have an X’s-and-O’s genius on staff. Shanahan is regarded as one of the NFL’s brightest offensive minds, and though the Niners didn’t show that frequently while Jimmy Garoppolo was out injured, they have been brilliant on offense in 2019. … (I)f you ask around the league, Patricia is regarded as a bright defensive mind. He was the one who initially tried to stop the Rams in 2018 with a 6-1 front, a move the Bears and Patriots emulated with better personnel to shut down the Sean McVay offense before the rest of the league followed suit in 2019 … With better personnel, Shanahan was able to show off just how creative of a playcaller and tactician he can be on the offensive side of the ball. Patricia is probably not on Shanahan’s level, but he’s clearly somebody who can come up with creative game plans. If Detroit can upgrade its defensive talent this offseason, Patricia might be the one directly benefiting from his ideas.

Difference: They (probably) won’t be able to use their high draft pick to add the draft’s best pass-rusher. Things fell perfectly for the 49ers in the 2019 draft, as they were able to use the second overall pick on Ohio State pass-rusher Nick Bosa after the Cardinals took Kyler Murray first. Bosa was an immediate difference-maker along a defensive line that morphed into one of the league’s best in 2019.

The Lions would likely love to grab another stud pass-rusher out of Ohio State, Chase Young, at No. 3, but he’s likely to come off the board at No. 2 to Washington. The Lions could get lucky if a team trades up with Washington to draft one of the quarterbacks, but they probably shouldn’t print any Young jerseys in Honolulu blue just yet.

Similarity: They could use a high draft pick to address a key defensive point of weakness. Barnwell cites Okudah.

Similarity: They blew a lot of games late. The 2018 49ers lost four games in which they had a lead at some point during the fourth quarter, ranking among the worst in the NFL. The 2019 Lions are in a similar space, as they were the only team in the league to post a losing record in games in which they led heading into the fourth quarter. Detroit was 2-4-1 when it held a lead with 15 minutes to go; the rest of the league was 198-33.

Even that stat sells the Lions short. They lost or tied three games they were winning with one minute to go and lost a fourth that was tied in the final minute. Three of those four games were against teams that made it to conference title games.

Difference: Their coach doesn’t have a track record of success in multiple places. While Shanahan succeeded as an offensive coordinator with the Texans, Washington and Falcons before getting his head-coaching opportunity in San Francisco, Patricia spent his entire NFL coaching career before Detroit with the Patriots. It’s unclear whether he can succeed without working alongside arguably the best coach in NFL history, and the early returns haven’t been impressive.

My take: I think he’s WAY overselling both Patricia’s head-coaching acumen and how ready to win the respective rosters are (Quinn’s failings).

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Positive things to say about Patricia?
This won’t be taken kindly around here.

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I prefer to live with Hope and not dispair …,

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it makes life easier. I would rather look forward to next season and not already be frustrated. If I am going to be frustrated about a sport year round, then I will just stop following the sport, do something else with my time.

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The Lions have caused decades of frustration. This team is like a disease. I can’t quit. I can’t lie to myself and say they are good. The fact is they are a bottom 5 organization in the big 4 pro sports. Things might improve at some point, but it won’t be under Patricia. I know too much about the NFL and pro sports to believe in Patricia. He’s an absolute joke and as a fan of this team I just want this over as fast as possible, so they can move on and regain the slight bit of credibility that Schwartz/Caldwell built up. There are guys out there that can do the job and help this organization. Patricia isn’t the guy.

People are obsessed with Patricia X Os, but the fact is the HC is so much more than that and Patricia fails in every aspect.

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In 2020, the Lions front office and coaches will do just barely enough, ie a return to 9-7, to save their jobs aka Wayne “Big Buck/Rasputin” Fontes.

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That may be the shockingest thing I have ever seen.

If you lead after 3 quarters, you are 85% likely to win. I would have thought the comeback win rate was higher, like 25% given wide open offenses and how the game is officiated Etc.

The Lions managed to acquire 5 of the 38 losses. On average it should be 1 per team. 2 is fluctuation and 3 is just plain a bad year.

Five.

Jesus.

But I keep seeing this used as a defense for Patricia.

To me, it’s a black mark against his coaching ability.

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I agree with a lot of what you are saying Iggy. Perhaps it is the optimist in me that hopes that a new coach can go through growing pains and get it right. I think there is evidence of him moving away from being a DC and trying to be a HC and all that that entails. It may not be enough to get it right in detroit…but I’d rather be hopeful then be depressed on 1.28.2020 hoping for a new regime a meaningful football that can’t possibly come until 9.13.2022 at the earliest.

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I think that story points out the biggest reason Patricia is and will struggle. That’s that he has coach one system and team. I think even he knows it’s a handy cap , that’s why he bought in someone that’s worked in different systems and philosophys.

The Lions are actually a good comparison, but they are much better at the QB position and not as deep on the defensive side today. I fully expect the Lions to be a playoff team next year and could easily be the team to beat with a good offseason.

I don’t know that the Lions can get to the SB next year, that might be too much of a stretch. But, they could be capable of a very good turnaround if some things go their way, such as:

  1. Stafford has to play 16 games. If he’s not in there, they’re fucked.

  2. They need to get lucky with injuries. You just can’t get too far if you’re playing guys that you signed off the street to replace your starters and backups.

  3. On offense, they cannot go into the 2020 with a OL that isn’t at least as good as the 2019 group. I don’t know why they haven’t extended Glasgow, the only thing I can assume is that he’s asking for a lot more than he’s worth. But somebody has to play at RG who is as good as GG was, and they’re going to need Wagner and Decker for one more year IMHO.

  4. Can they keep Amendola for another year? That’d be good IMHO. I don’t think they’re that bad at WR or at RB, maybe they pick up an FA RB but the guys they got now are okay except that KeJo has to find a way to stay healthy. I think they should keep McKissic and TyJo and I liked Scarborough a lot.

  5. Hockenson needs to step up and show he was worth the #8OA pick.

  6. The Lions need a better QB2. Driskel ain’t gonna cut it IMHO.

  7. Other than Stafford playing, no other problem needs to be fixed more than the pass rush. I know the DL got hammered with injuries from TC on. They have no chance if that group isn’t a lot better in 2020.

  8. The LBs have to get better too, and they will IMHO if the pass rush is better. A lot better.

  9. I am assuming Slay will play here in 2020. If he doesn’t then that’s a really big hole to fill. And they need a starting CB2, Melvin wasn’t good enough IMHO. Maybe Oruwariye is ready to step up; I sure hope so.

So, that’s a lotta stuff to accomplish before we can think about the playoffs next year. It’s doable, but Quinn has to hit it big in FA and again in the draft. One thing - the Lions are overdue for a big year. But nobody is going to hand us anything.

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That list could be for any team in the NFL.

I don’t for a second believe the Lions will be any good, but that’s not cause of Patricia or Ford, or Stafford or Flowers… it’s because I’m lionized.
But if the freakin 9-7 Tennessee Titans can come one game away from a super bowl, then there’s absolutely a chance the Lions can surprise in 2020.
Of course, I don’t get nice things in sports, so once again I’ll call for 5-11. You guys crying for me yet?

I’m not buying the hype. Certainly not in January.
May, maybe…

I been on this bandwagon for over a month. Wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

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They will be better next year. They were a 5-7 win team roster wise and won 3.

I do think they are going to get great value for 3 in the draft too.

I don’t see them making any splashes in FA though. Due to the franchise and transition tag being available to everyone I don’t think talent is hitting the market this year like years past

This team was going to win 8-9 games if Stafford was playing. They were in every game outside of Minny and had the lead in all but that one. Flowers got healthy and played well. The number of guys on IR was significant. I am amazed that people can’t see what is right in front of them.

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Meh. I don’t know if I can go that far. 7 wins maybe. Who knows?

I get it. Logically we know Stafford is lightyears better than the schlubs we had backing him up, but we also should recognize that our opponents would prepare and gameplan for Stafford if he was healthy, so these games would not, in any way, resemble what we saw with Driskell and Blough. Like, Driskell has some wiggle, so maybe they don’t blitz as much as they would vs Stafford.

There is no way of knowing. Not to mention, it’s not like Stafford doesn’t have some history of playing poorly down the stretch. He’s always been a very inconsistent QB, not just year to year, but game to game. Thinking he was going to play the last 8 games at the same level he played the first 8 games isn’t very logical.

What was their record with Stafford under center and playing great?

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