By HCR Staff | Jan. 17, 2020
One narrative NFL media had fun with for a while was the relative failures of Bill Belichick disciples as NFL head coaches.
The first wave included Nick Saban (Miami Dolphins), Romeo Crennel (Kansas City Chiefs) and Eric Mangini (New York Jets and Cleveland Browns). Of that group, only Mangini led his team to a postseason appearance.
The second wave has had much more success. This wave includes Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans) and Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans), both of whom have made the playoffs. This wave also includes Brian Flores (Dolphins), who made a lot of progress this season with a team many expected would struggle to win one game.
The second wave also includes Matt Patricia of the Detroit Lions, who hasn’t appeared in the postseason yet, and already has been given what amounts to an ultimatum for 2020 by ownership.
But we think Patricia actually will surprise next season.
The Lions actually had tremendous momentum early in the season, and were poised to take the division lead with a win in their Week 6 game at Green Bay.
Two phantom “hands to the face” calls, however, led to a crushing 23-22 defeat, and the Lions never recovered, losing 10 of the next 11. That loss caused a tremendous loss of confidence and momentum, and a crush of injuries further derailed their entire season.
Here’s why we think the Lions will surprise next season.
First, Patricia will have a new defensive coordinator after releasing Paul Pasqualoni. Pasqualoni essentially gave Patricia his start, and has been a mentor to him. But over the course of the last two years, it became increasingly clear that the Lions were regressing defensively to an alarming degree. A change had to be made, and Patricia made it. New DC Cory Undlin and Patricia have familiarity, and he’ll bring a different energy with positive effect in our view.
Second, Patricia and GM Bob Quinn have turned over most of the roster and loaded it up with “their guys.” Many holdovers, while good players (such as safety Quandre Diggs), simply weren’t completely buying in to Patricia, and they had to go. It’s clear there was some dissension between the lockerroom and the staff, and that issue probably sucked some of Patricia’s time and energy.
Finally, quarterback Matt Stafford will be healthy. It appears he has chemistry with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, and the Lions have some nice young personnel. They now have some talented backs, rookie tight end T.J. Hockensen impressed, and the wide receivers unit can be elite. They just need Stafford healthy and averaging 28 plus points a game is well within range.
We predict Vegas will have the Lions at six for a win total. If that’s the number, we like the OVER based on what we know today.