Detroit Lions will only be as good as Matt Patricia lets them

The Detroit Lions might actually be able to win some games in 2020.

Despite the fact that they finished 3-12-1 last year, the Detroit Lions were by no means void of talent or unwatchably bad. They were the victim of some late comebacks and poor officiating early in the season, and an injury to Matthew Stafford derailed their hopes for the postseason as they sat 3-4-1.

Stafford threw 19 touchdowns in eight games for new OC Darrell Bevell, but an injury to him and another one backup Jeff Driskel forced David Blough into action. It’s probably better if everyone just scrubs Blough’s starts from our collective memory.

Stafford and Kenny Golladay have shown they can succeed in Bevell’s offense, and the fact that half of the New England Patriots’ defense (Jamie Collins, Danny Shelton, Duron Harmon) made the trip to Detroit should beef up that unit. Still, the Lions are still projected by many to finish dead last in the NFC North, likely due to the micromanaging presence of head coach and former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia on the sideline.

Matt Patricia has a good team, but he needs to get out of the way and let them work

The No. 1 mistake that all the failed Bill Belichick assistants make when they get hired for head coaching jobs is believing they can walk right in, assume control over nearly every area of day-to-day operations, and do so with Belichick’s systematic coldness. However, Belichick can do that because of his championships. Patricia has tried to do that in Detroit, but all it’s gotten him is nine wins in two seasons and a very upset Darius Slay.

Perhaps realizing that he can’t do it all by himself, Patricia will not be the team’s defensive play-caller in 2020. This is a step in the right direction, as less direct meddling and more general leadership from Patricia should help a talented, if inexperienced, Lions team start to win some games this year.

The Lions will certainly have a tough go of it in a competitive division, but their performance before Stafford’s injury suggests that they can be a force in the NFC North when healthy. If Patricia learns to let go of the reins, Detroit could finish above .500. If he fails in that department, he’ll be fired before the season ends.

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