Analyzing Lions Ownership’s Letter to Fans and Season Ticket Holders

Martha Ford

Getty Martha Ford attends a press conference.

The Detroit Lions have officially charted their course for 2020, and it involves Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn staying put for at least one more year.

That decision has been met with plenty of backlash in the hours after it was made, and as a result, the Ford family took the step of coming out and providing a statement explaining themselves and the direction they are taking for the future.

On, Martha Ford, Sheila Ford Hamp and team president Rod Wood drafted and signed the statement which explained where the Lions are at, their frustrations with what has happened on the field and why they believe in a better future for the team soon.

Here’s a look at the statement that was posted in its entirety:

“Our 2019 season has not gone as anticipated by anyone in our organization. Our team has played hard and well enough to be very competitive. It has been well-documented that we are one of only three teams to have held the lead in each of our first 12 games. Unfortunately, all too often, we have come up a few plays short of victory. Our current win-loss record is ultimately very disappointing.

As we evaluate this season, we look beyond just our record. We are striving to build a team with a strong foundation of high-character players and coaches, that is physically and mentally tough, with depth at every position and one that can be successful over many years, not just one season. We see signs of this foundation in our team’s toughness, competitiveness and culture. Injuries happen in the NFL and are never an excuse. Nonetheless, our team has played through serious injuries this season to some of our best players. Despite the injuries, we have remained competitive in each game and our team depth showed up as a strength.

We also believe that the most successful teams in our league have a long-term plan, stability in leadership and exhibit patience to follow their plan. To that end, we are committed to year three of Coach Patricia’s plan. To be clear, our expectation is for the Lions to be a playoff contender in 2020.

To our dedicated fans: You deserve a winning team that you are excited to cheer for and proud to represent. Our entire organization is working to make the Lions a consistently winning team.

To our loyal season ticket members: Thank you for your continued support. We are announcing today that once again there will be no price increases for season tickets at Ford Field and several sections at the stadium will see price decreases. We want our fans to fill Ford Field for every game, continuing to make it the great home field advantage that inspires our players and makes it difficult for our opponents.

Thank you for your continued support, Happy Holidays and GO LIONS!”

Previously, Martha Ford had last spoken to Lions fans via such a letter upon making her sweeping changes after the 2015 season. At the time, she said that fans deserved better. So far, the Lions haven’t exactly delivered that “better” to their fans, but in sticking with Patricia and Quinn and providing their rationale, at the very least, ownership is trying to have a dialogue with their loyal customers and do what they perceive as right by them.

Analyzing This Lions Letter

It’s not a surprise to see the Lions come out and get ahead of the news as well as try to control the narrative. The decision to bring back Patricia and Quinn following the meltdown of the 2019 season has not been well-received for plenty of good reasons, and the Ford family had to know that they needed to say something to the fans to explain themselves in more detail in order to avoid more backlash swirling for weeks.

At the very least, the group should be given credit for speaking their mind, providing rationale and explaining their decision making. They could have left Tuesday’s bombshell reveal and said nothing else, but by providing an additional outlet, they are showing a true desire to connect with the fanbase. In terms of the decision, Patricia has only coached the Lions for two seasons, and the group wants to give him a chance to get the program over the hump in 2020, along with Quinn in terms of building the roster more fully in his image.

Perhaps the only area of the letter in which the commentary feels a bit misguided revolves around the depth of the team being a strength. Detroit did have to withstand a bevy of significant injuries at multiple spots, but they have not had quality players to insert and have not developed multiple difference makers. Spots like quarterback, running back and cornerback have seen a lack of big additions, or no meaningful offseason additions at all. That’s on Quinn, and something that will have to be remedied moving forward in the coming offseason.

It’s fair based on the tone of the letter to assume that the Lions mean what they say in terms of their future plans with the duo. If the team doesn’t make the playoffs in 2020 and make some noise or at the very least show some very dramatic steps forward, Patricia and Quinn will likely be out of a job this time next year. Fans naturally won’t trust ownership to see this through, but to the outside, the letter seems to indicate they mean business. Otherwise, why put it in writing?

It’s a tall task to ask beaten and bewildered fans to stick by a franchise that they perceive has wronged them once again, but the Lions are gambling that their faith in the duo will pay off handsomely with a healthier, more consistent 2020 season. It’s a significant and risky gamble, but if it pays off and something finally goes right for the franchise, it could be one that reverberates for years. The fact the Lions are not set to raise ticket prices is a mere footnote. Most realize that could not have happened after such a debacle of a season.

For years under the leadership of William Clay Ford, the Lions looked the part of a tone deaf franchise, making decisions behind closed doors with little explanation provided. As a result, Lions fans could do nothing but assume the Ford family didn’t care what they thought and didn’t have their best interest in mind. Results on the field and off during that period showed that they may have been exactly right.

While the plan of this next generation of Ford leadership may not end up any better than those of their predecessor, the group should at least be given credit for doing more to try and break down the divide that has stood for years between ownership and the fanbase.

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