The Detroit Lions have looked historically bad in 2019, and they finally have the numbers to prove how true that fact is.
With Detroit’s blown lead in the fourth quarter against the Washington Redskins, the Lions became just the third team in NFL history to have leads in all 11 of their games to open a season, yet only win three or less. They join the 1987 New York Giants and the 2004 Kansas City Chiefs on the list.
Detroit has struggled at putting away leads of any kind this season, and if there is one positive in this dismal season, it’s that the team hasn’t been blown out at all this year. Detroit is close, but they aren’t making any of the plays in crunch time to win. That’s a problem, but it could be a fixable problem if the Lions can continue to add talent to the mix.
For now, this stat isn’t likely to make anyone feel good about the direction of the team.
Why the Meltdown? Lions Defense
This season, Detroit’s defense has been one of the worst in the league. Statistically, they’ve bottomed out against the run and against the pass. They haven’t pressured the quarterback, nor have they been able to force meaningful turnovers on the field. This has combined to help them lose more leads than they have been able to gain thus far in the 2019 season.
Without a solid defense, it’s hard for teams to be able to salt away games or maintain leads. So far, that’s likely been the biggest reason for the team’s failures during the season at holding leads and grabbing wins.
What Lions Can Do
Detroit needs to consider making a few changes in order to potentially spice things up on the defensive side of things. First of all, they need to consider giving some playing time to players who play hard on special teams yet do not ordinarily see the field. Jalen Reeves Maybin could fit in a role for the team’s linebacking core, which has struggled.
Additionally, as Pro Football Focus points out, the team might ponder switching up scheme and personnel in order to better leverage some situations.
Secondly, perhaps it’s time for Matt Patricia to switch things up in terms of his own scheme and calls. If Darius Slay is correct and the Lions haven’t managed to change much up which teams are catching on to, perhaps it’s time for a change in terminology.
Detroit could always make a bold move and fire defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni, but with his status as Patricia’s friend and a potential figurehead coordinator, even that might be a fruitless endeavor and something unlikely to occur.
At this point, it seems as health might be the only way for the Lions to feel better about things on the defensive side. Missing names like Tracy Walker, Slay, Mike Daniels and Da’Shawn Hand for extended times hasn’t helped whatsoever.
The Lions simply have to power through, see if they can make some in-house tweaks and hope to improve. A solid finish to 2019 could set the team up for a better 2020 year.
With stats like this lingering about, it’s hard to say if the Lions can move things in the right direction. At the very least they have been close enough so far this season, even if they have yet to put some of their biggest games away.