Quinn and Patricia have cost the Lions much more than three seasons


For Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia, it's a long way to Week 6. If they get there, it'll be a trek to 2021, with danger at every turn. As the Lions enter the bye on the brink of another lost season, there's a feeling that neither the head coach nor the general manager will be back for another year.

They've overstayed their welcome as it is. Since Quinn imported Patricia from New England in 2018, selling Detroit on the dream of division titles and playoff runs, the Lions have 10 wins in 36 games. That's tied with the Cardinals for third least in the NFL, better than only the the Bengals and the Giants.

The Cardinals broke in a rookie quarterback in 2018, the Giants broke one in last year and the Bengals are breaking one in this year. The Lions have trotted out Matthew Stafford for all but eight of the aforementioned games. They were a win-now team that started to lose, so now they're a rebuilding team trying to win. It's a mess.

And it's going to take a long time to clean up.

If a new regime indeed takes over next season, it will inherit a rigid, expensive roster. In trying to build a very specific team, Quinn and Patricia have gone out of their way to find very specific players. Perhaps Bill Belichick would know what to do with them. Assuming he stays put in New England, the Lions will be forced into the rebuild they never needed.

Look at this defense. Detroit has about $55 million in cap money tied up next season in Trey Flowers, Desmond Trufant, Jamie Collins and Justin Coleman. It's bad enough that none of them are playing up to their contracts. It's worse because the Lions outbid themselves for all four. This is especially true of Flowers, who ranks outside the NFL's top 40 players in sacks since Detroit made him one of the highest-paid defensive ends in the game.

Trufant comes off the books in 2022. But Coleman, Collins and Flowers account for another $46 million against the cap. This wouldn't be so daunting if the Lions were stretching their budget in the draft. But Quinn and Patricia have so far found one consistent playmaker with the 11 picks they've spent on defense, and until recently Patricia was finding reasons not to play him: Tracy Walker.

In a league that's all about speed, Patricia has tried to build a defense based on muscle. This has been most costly at linebacker, where the Lions have a core of Collins, Christian Jones and Jahlani Tavai, plus Jarrad Davis and Reggie Ragland. As an NFC North front-office member told The Athletic in the offseason, "They just don’t have a lot of speed defensively. They’ve got a lot of power guys. They’re like the ’85 Giants without (Lawrence Taylor). They like big, slow guys.”

On offense, Quinn and Patricia have done a good job of drafting up front. Frank Ragnow is a blossoming star at center and Jonah Jackson already looks like a steal. Which makes their decision to sink $45 million into Halapoulivaati Vaitai this year all the more puzzling. Again they outbid themselves, this time for a swing tackle currently playing guard who's under contract through 2024.

Speaking of overpays, let's not forget Jesse James. Scarred by their lack of production at tight end in 2018, the Lions gave him more than $22 million over four years, then kept him in storage until Week 3 of 2020. Nearly every major acquisition on the part of Quinn and Patricia has made us either roll our eyes -- of course -- or squint them -- wait, who? The next GM might be scratching his head already.

He might also be scratching his head about this: why did the Lions draft a running back in the first two rounds in two out of three years? No team had done that since the Jaguars took T.J. Yeldon in 2015 and Leonard Fournette in 2017. With so many other holes on their roster, why did they go shopping in the luxury aisle? Like taking a tight end in the top ten in 2019. No team had done that since, well, you know.

If the Lions' coaching job was a sought-after position in 2018, it's hard to imagine it would be so now. Same for the GM job, even if those are harder to find. Outside of a few mainstays on the offensive line, what have Quinn and Patricia put into place? What would they be leaving behind? With each season they've already burned, they've set another ablaze in the future. The next regime might have no choice but to scorch the earth.

The Lions hired Quinn to build a winner, and Quinn hired Patricia to win the games that Jim Caldwell couldn't. Since then, the Lions are 2-11 against teams that made the playoffs. Which means they're also six games under .500 against everyone else. They are a bottom-feeding team lacking stars and lacking depth, sinking deeper into the muck each year.

It was supposed to be a quick ascent toward the top of the league when Patricia and Quinn teamed up. It'll be a long climb back to relevance whenever they depart.

Featured Image Photo Credit: © Kirthmon F. Dozier via Imagn Content Services, LLC