Detroit Lions wrap up yet another losing decade

Shaping up to be worst season since 2009

If the Detroit Lions lose to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday — and remember they’re 13-point underdogs — this 2019 season will be the worst of this decade for the franchise.

A loss will give the Lions a 3-12-1 record, the least number of wins in this 10-year stretch. 

As we head into 2020, let’s take one last glance at yet another Lions’ decade of futility.

The 72-86-1 record from 2010 through this season so far, included four winning seasons along with two wild-card games under coach Jim Caldwell and one with Jim Schwartz at the helm.

On a positive note, it’s much better than the previous decade (2000-2009) when the Lions posted a 42-118 record with only one winning season (9-7 in 2000) and no trips to the playoffs.

Ten years, zero division titles, three coaches, three general managers, one Matthew Stafford, one Calvin Johnson, more losses than wins and still no playoff victory. 

Stafford and long-snapper Don Muhlbach are the only roster constants since 2010.

Stafford, who turns 32 in February, became one of only five quarterbacks in NFL history to pass for 5,000 yards in a season in 2011 with 5,038 yards. The next season he came up just 23 yards shy of 5,000 despite the fact the team went 4-12. The only two seasons he didn’t reach at least 4,000 yards were in 2018 (3,777 yards) and this year when he played in only eight games (2,499 yards).

Calvin Johnson, a future Hall of Famer, left after nine seasons and 11,619 receiving yards. He finished six straight seasons (2010-15) with at least 1,000 receiving yards shattering all previous franchise records. Like Barry Sanders, Johnson’s gifts were wasted at a time the Lions should have made the most of them. And also like Sanders, he was a joy to watch.

Three coaches defined this decade.

In 2010, the Lions were coming off a 2-14 season and hopes were high that coach Jim Schwartz in his second season would turn the page for the franchise. It was a tough task, rebuilding the roster, adding new schemes and trying to change the culture and reputation of the team still suffering since the 0-16 2008 season.

Schwartz was sent packing with a 27-37 record after the 2013 season. He did start the turn-around from the worst in the league, but did not get the team over the hump and into the land of NFL respectability.

Coach Jim Caldwell (2014-17) owns the only winning record (36-28) of the three coaches in the decade. He guided the Lions to an 11-5 record and wild-card playoff game in his first season (2014). In his four seasons Caldwell led the team to two playoff appearances. After a 9-7 season in 2017 and no playoff berth, he was fired. Lions general manager Bob Quinn said the team was better than its 9-7 record. 

Quinn and Matt Patricia knew each other well from their days with the New England Patriots. Patricia was the well-respected Patriots’ defensive coordinator who had never been a head coach at any level.

So far Patricia is 9-21-1. If they lose to the Packers, the Lions will have three less wins than they did in his first year (6-10).

Certainly improvement was expected, but the defense has been a mess and stands at 29th in the league for yards allowed per game. Still owner Martha Firestone Ford has guaranteed Patricia and Quinn another season to become playoff contenders.

The last playoff win was on Jan. 5, 1992.

The last NFL championship was in 1957.

The Lions’ faithful await as the page turns on yet another disappointing decade.

RECORDS

  • 2010: 6-10
  • 2011: 10-6 (wild-card game)
  • 2012: 4-12
  • 2013: 7-9
  • 2014: 11-5 (wild-card game)
  • 2015: 7-9
  • 2016: 9-7 (wild-card game)
  • 2017: 9-7
  • 2018: 6-10
  • 2019: 3-11-1 (so far)

Detroit Lions Matthew Stafford meets up again with Eagles DC Jim Schwartz

DETROIT — Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz possibly knows Matthew Stafford better than any NFL quarterback. That doesn’t necessarily give him an advantage when the Lions play at Philadelphia on Sunday.

“I think he just understands how he thinks and how Matt (Stafford) operates. You still have to go play. He’s been a great quarterback for many years and he’s got a big arm and Jim understands that,’’ Eagles coach Doug Pederson said on a conference call. “I can’t give you all of my secrets, or Jim’s secrets, but I’m sure he’ll have something for him. He understands him. This business, this is the way it works.

“We’re going to draft players and players are going to move on. Coaches are going to move on and you’re going to see them in the future. You just always keep things in the back of your mind for when you do play them,’’ Pederson added.

Schwartz got his first NFL head coaching job with the Lions and spent five seasons (2009-13) in Detroit. 

 “A lot of fond memories. Obviously, I got drafted here by him and he was part of that process, so I appreciate him a lot for giving me the chance. We went to playoffs for the first time in a long time in this franchise’s history and did a lot of good things in kind of getting us to where we are now, which I’m proud of, and I know he is too,’’ Stafford said this week.

“As far as going against him, I’ve played against him a couple of times since then. I’ve got a lot of respect for him as a defensive coach. His guys play extremely hard. They’re in the right spot. They play aggressive. Year-in and year-out they’re really good defenses. They’re top-echelon defenses and this one seems to be no different,’’ the quarterback added.

Schwartz had been the Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator before joining the Lions. The Lions defenses under him and coordinator Gunther Cunningham had successes and failures.

The Eagles’ defense likely won’t have much similarity due to different personnel.

 “He’s going to adapt to the guys that he has in his locker room and he has on that team and play to their style and put them in their strengths,’’ Stafford said. “He’s like a lot of coaches in this league that do that. Just generally speaking, they’re an aggressive defense. They play extremely hard and they’re good at what they do.”

The Lions’ offense scored just a pair of touchdowns last week but it was enough for the 13-10 win over the Chargers. Still, it’s looking for more consistency.

“You’d love to score points on every single drive, and touchdowns if you can. We just have to do a better job of staying on the field a little bit on third down and we had some opportunities in the last game to stay on the field and didn’t,’’ Stafford said. “I think it would’ve ended up in some points. We just have to do a little bit better job there and then make sure when we get our opportunities for big plays, we have to hit them.”