In the wake of a second straight 10-loss season (with potentially more losses to come in the next two weeks), the Lions have decided to stay the course with both general manager Bob Quinn and coach Matt Patricia.
On Tuesday, two days after the Lions fell to 3-10-1 after a 21-point defeat to the Buccaneers, Lions owner Martha Ford told reporters that both Quinn and Patricia will be back in 2020. The Lions will not be firing them, even though the franchise has gone 27-34-1 under Quinn and 9-20-1 under Patricia. It doesn't sound like Quinn and Patricia will be operating under a mandate to make the playoffs next season, but at the very least, it sounds like they're running short on time to turn things around. An improvement next year is necessary.
"We expect to be a playoff contender," Ford said, per the Lions' website. "That means playing meaningful games in December."
Of course, there's a fairly convincing argument to be made that the duo should already be out of time. Quinn hired Patricia to be his coach after the 2017 season, firing Jim Caldwell to make room for him. Under Caldwell from 2014-17, the Lions went 36-28 with two playoff appearances in four seasons, good enough for a 56.3 winning percentage. Caldwell's worst season with the Lions resulted in a 7-9 record. It's only been two years, but Patricia sports a winning percentage of 31.7 percent. His most memorable moment as the Lions coach was when he scolded a reporter for his posture last season, about two months before news broke that Patricia was repeatedly showing up late to team meetings and press conferences.
It is worth noting, however, that the Lions have been forced to trudge their way through most of the second half of this season with Jeff Driskel and David Blough at quarterback. Not many coaches would win under those conditions. That said, it is also worth noting that the Lions were only 3-4-1 before Matthew Stafford lost his season to an injury, even though he was playing at an MVP level. The injury excuse just doesn't really hold up.
What's particularly damning is just how bad the Lions are defensively when Patricia is allegedly a defensive mastermind after previously helping Bill Belichick orchestrate the Patriots' defense. Even after the Lions were big spenders in free agency, bringing in Trey Flowers and Justin Coleman this offseason, they're ranked 26th in defensive DVOA, 31st in yards allowed, and 26th in points allowed. Meanwhile, the Patriots, even after losing Patricia and Brian Flores the last two years, are having their best defensive season under Belichick arguably ever.
Quinn, on the other hand, doesn't just deserve scrutiny for his decision to fire Caldwell and hire Patricia, but he's also made a few questionable personnel decisions. Sending Quandre Diggs to Seattle for a fifth-round pick didn't play well in the Lions' locker room, and Diggs has helped rejuvenate the Seahawks' defense. While the selection of tight end T.J. Hockenson at No. 8 overall might end up working out as Hockenson continues to develop, in hindsight it does seem like a luxury pick for a team in need of core players.
Regardless, both the GM and coach will be back in 2020. And the rest of the NFC North rejoices.