Matt Patricia was able to survive year two with the Detroit Lions only because his starting quarterback got hurt. Detroit was decent at 3-4-1 when Matthew Stafford suffered a season-ending back injury. The Lions collapsed down the stretch, going 1-12 in their final 13 games. Simply put, they have to win this year or Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn are fired.
The Lions have the No. 3 overall pick in the upcoming draft. They could go with a great defensive prospect, or do the right thing and field calls for quarterback-desperate teams to move up into the top-three. For better or worse, it serves Patricia to hitch his wagon to Stafford’s howitzer of a right arm. Taking a quarterback this year means even more inherent dysfunction for the Lions.
What Patricia has going for him that the other coaches on this last don’t is he doesn’t have to push for a playoff spot. If this team can hover around .500 and beat a few of its division rivals, then Patricia may get a fourth year in Detroit. The offense has weapons, but it will have to be the defense to take the next step forward. That’s Patricia’s side of the ball and it needs to pop.
Should the Lions find themselves four or more games out of first place in the NFC North by Halloween, don’t think for a second the Ford Family will be happy about it. Though they’re the least talented team in the division, it’ll be all about effort in deciding Patricia’s fate. If the team quits on Patricia, then the Ford Family has no choice but to quit on yet another head coach.