Bob Quinn, along with the brain trust at Allen Park, clearly have a vision for the Detroit Lions
It's clear that they wanted to play complementary football on offense and defense this year. Significant resources were spent on the running game while the team prioritized the secondary rather than front seven.
With new head coach Matt Patricia building the game plans, it appears the logic was the team could build opponent-specific game plans on defense, leveraging a deep and talented secondary to prevent big plays and create turnovers while the offense controlled the clock by running the ball, which would also open the passing game for the franchise quarterback.
The problem is that hasn't quite metalized.
The ground game has been intermittent this year. The Lions have rushed for less than 100 yards as a team six times, including three game below 70 yards. They have averaged less than 3.5 yards per rush in four of eight games.
When the ground game sputters, the offensive line has shown leaks in pass protection and that has torpedoed the offense at times.
All this while the defense has struggled to stop the run.
As a result, Quinn made a move to acquire one of the league's best run defenders, Damon Harrison.
Harrison has looked great but the team's run defense still hasn't, perhaps re-enforcing the notion that the linebackers are most culpable for the leaky run defense.
The problem there is that the linebacker corps is completely built by Quinn with no inherited players remaining.
One week after the trade for Harrison, the Lions shipped out leading receiver Golden Tate for a third round pick.
With those two moves in mind, here are two key stats from Sunday's loss:
- The Vikings had finished under four yards-per-carry in all but one game this year. They averaged 5.6 against the Lions on Sunday.
- The Lions had seven drives of six-plays or fewer. The struggle to keep drives alive is no doubt impacted by the absence of Tate, whose short-area quickness and chemistry with Stafford would have worked wonders to offset the Vikings' pass rush (which created 10 sacks on Sunday).
This was a game the Lions needed to win to get a leg up in the crowded NFC North. The loss shifts the Lions' playoff potential from hopeful to hopeless in the span of a couple weeks.
Players and coaches take a large share of the result in Minnesota as well as the disappointing 3-5 record halfway through the season. Still, Quinn has had ample time to put his stamp on this roster. He's had three draft hauls and three free agency periods.
The Lions current roster has clearly not yielded the results it was expected to. With three years to turnover the roster, the Lions should be further along. There is talent and a strong offseason could potentially do wonders. The problem is, we could have said that for each of the last three offseasons.