Matt Patricia will be the first one to say you can’t make excuses for losing. While most coaches agree with that statement, when it comes to the Detroit Lions’ dismal 2019 season, Patricia actually has quite a few legitimate excuses for his team’s shortcomings last year.
Detroit Lions injury central
Injuries are part of sports, but boy, they sure hit the Detroit Lions in a major way in 2019.
The Lions lost several key players in 2019, including starting quarterback Matt Stafford.
Before they lost Stafford, Detroit had the look of a legit contender.
The Lions were 3-4-1 after eight games. With three of their four losses coming against the Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers – all by 7-points or less – Detroit was much better than their record indicated.
Matt Stafford was a huge reason that the Lions were a good team during that period. With weapons on the outside like Marvin Jones Jr, Danny Amendola and Kenny Golladay, all the pieces were in place to contend for the NFC North crown.
And then it happened. X-rays revealed that Stafford had broken bones in his back. Just like that, things went downhill quickly. The injury caused the former Georgia star to miss the entire second half of the season, and the Lions finished the year with a nine-game losing streak as they limped their way to a 3-12-1 mark.
Can the Lions turn things around in 2020 and become a legit force in the NFC? One major publication believes they can.
Lions from worst to first?
It seems each season a different team rises from the NFC to become the newest Super Bowl contender. Is 2020 the year Detroit makes that run?
According to Pro Football Focus, prior to Matthew Stafford’s season-ending injury, the Lions were a competitive team that could have been postseason bound. That being said, PFF believes that of all of the eight last-place teams, the Lions have the best chance to go from worst to first next season.
Here is the main reason why PFF is liking Detroit to make a big move in 2020.
“Getting a healthy Stafford back next season to get the ball into the hands of downfield playmakers Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. should be a huge boost to this offense. With a high draft slot and a decent amount of cap space to work with, there’s an opportunity for the defense to improve, as well. It’s not difficult to see the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings taking a step back next season, and that opens the door for Detroit to potentially host its first home playoff game since 1993.”
When you have a great quarterback like Stafford go down for the last 2-plus months of the season, it takes a toll on the team.
Most experts agree that the Lions have a ton of talent on both sides of the ball, however, the rise or fall in 2020 will ultimately depend on Matt Stafford and his health.
Be optimistic Lions fans, at least PFF believes better days are ahead!