Quinn and Patricia will return; Ford expects Lions to be 'playoff contender'
Allen Park — The Detroit Lions lifted the fog of uncertainty surrounding the job security of the team's general manager and coach Tuesday morning, informing both Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia they would return in their roles for the 2020 season.
In a meeting with a small group of local reporters, team owner Martha Ford, vice chair and daughter Sheila Ford Hamp and team president Rod Wood elaborated on the decision and expectations going forward.
"We expect to be a playoff contender and those are our expectations, which we’ve expressed to both Bob and to Matt," Ford said.
Ford Hamp knows the decision won't be popular with many unhappy fans who were hoping for wholesale changes to the team's leadership.
"That would have been the popular choice, the popular decision, and we knew that," Ford Hamp said. "But as I say, we’re doing what is right for the organization."
So despite two straight years of declining on-field results, Quinn and Patricia will get at least one more season to right the ship.
"Obviously, it means the world to me," Patricia said. "I appreciate Mrs. Ford and her family so much, and Rod and Bob, and everything were trying to do here and what we're trying to accomplish."
Next year will mark Quinn's fifth in the general manager seat, while Patricia will enter his third season as the team's head coach.
Things haven't gone anywhere close to plan following Patricia's hiring in 2018. In his first year at the helm, the team dipped from 9-7 marks each of the previous two years to 6-10. And it's gone even worse this season. After starting the year 2-0-1, the Lions have dropped 10 of their past 11, including seven in a row with two games remaining.
The players, often praised by Patricia for their effort and fight throughout the season, have struggled to finish games. Despite holding leads in the first 12 contests, and generally being in one-score games in the fourth quarter, the Lions only managed a single victory after their hot start.
After each game, Patricia would typically point the finger at himself, highlighting his need to coach better. But in recent weeks, as hopes of a postseason berth were officially extinguished, the coach began to regularly bring up the process of building the roster.
On Monday, Patricia said he believed the team has the foundation in place to build upon.
"I would say that we’ve shown at least a foundation of being a tough team, being a competitive team, being a team that won’t quit, a team that’s going to go out and compete, and really care about each," Patricia said. "I think that’s the start.
"We obviously need to add some pieces, and we need to get better, and we need to improve, and hopefully stay a little bit more healthy than where we’re at right now," Patricia said. "I think those things will build on top of each other form there."
Ownership agreed with the coach's assessment, noting the team's competitiveness and resiliency during the meeting with reporters. They also noted the evaluation focused more on the first half of the season, before the injuries decimated the roster.
Injuries have unquestionably played a role in Detroit's struggles, particularly in the second half of the season. The hyped defensive line, expected to be a strength heading into the season, never played a game at full strength, quarterback Matthew Stafford had been sidelined the past six weeks before being placed on injured reserve on Tuesday, while running back Kerryon Johnson has been on IR since Week 7.
With six more starters placed on injured reserve the past two weeks, that list has now grown over a dozen players.
With questions about Patricia and Quinn's future put to rest, the Lions can go about their business and finish out the season. The team travels to Denver this weekend to play the Broncos before returning home to close out the year against the Packers.
With a loss in either of those two games, the Lions will secure a top-five draft pick in 2020. If the team loses both, they could climb as high as No. 2 in the draft order.
To be a playoff contender, Detroit will need to supplement the roster beyond the draft, whether through trades or free agency. There's also an expectation Patricia will re-work his coaching staff before next season.