The Detroit Lions have struggled through the years helping their best players win on the field, and that fact isn’t lost going around the NFL either.
Even rival players realize how bad the team has been at helping their elite stars win games. Even though Jonathan Stewart doesn’t have a tie to the Lions, it’s still something he recently brought up randomly on Twitter, simply saying he remembers that the Lions wasted three years of Matthew Stafford’s career with Matt Patricia.
There’s no doubting the fact that Patricia was thought of as a decent hire at the time and the feeling was the Lions were finally going to get it right with the coach and make their team a winner. When that didn’t happen, the prevailing feeling was indeed that of waste, especially when it comes to Stafford. Now 32, Stafford is in good shape, but it’s clear he wasted some years in his late 20s with a defensive-minded head coach who didn’t have a plan.
Lions Have Habit of Wasting Hall of Fame Talent
The Lions have had some elite players through the years, and it isn’t a stretch to say that all of them have retired or left town with some regrets. Barry Sanders is the best example of a player who dominated in Detroit, yet never had a consistent enough team around him in order to do some major winning. Sanders won only a single playoff game in his entire career and never went to a Super Bowl. From there, Calvin Johnson and Stafford came to the team, and the pair teamed up to have one of the most explosive connections in football. Sadly, though, it never paid off with a playoff win or a division title. Like Sanders, Johnson retired early even though he is a potential Hall of Fame talent. Stafford is still seeking his first playoff win since being drafted by the Lions over a decade ago.
Matthew Stafford’s Lions’ Future Questionable
Will Stafford want out or get out of Detroit as a result of these struggles? Everyone is about to find out the answer to that question this offseason. The future of Stafford will become a big talking point for the Lions given the changes within the front office and at head coach. The past regime, led by Bob Quinn, remained loyal to Stafford but the shakeup could leave his future firmly up in the air. That’s especially true given the fact that ownership has essentially deferred the decision to the new staff once they come to town.
Thus far in 2020, Stafford didn’t have the type of season that will wow many folks statistically. He threw 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions with 4,084 passing yards. He’s had good games and average games, but has shown the toughness that has come to define his tenure.
Stafford, no matter where he plays next season, is going to be one of the better quarterbacks in the league. If it’s somewhere other than Detroit and he has success, the Lions will have only themselves to blame as many see it around the league.