The Detroit Lions coaching search has really been something lately, hasn’t it? It’s not uncommon to wake up in the morning and hear a new piece of information about it. As of late, this information has begun to contradict itself.
On Saturday, Pro Football Talk released a report saying that Matt Patricia to the Lions was expected. Then on Sunday, Jason La Canfora echoed this during during the CBS pregame. This seemed like a foregone conclusion until Wednesday.
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King wrote a story that said the Matt Patricia actually favors the Giants job over the Lions job. It was about here that everything went crazy. Of course later on this story took another turn when Michael Lombardi said on The Ringer Podcast that “he was told Sunday night that Matt had the job in Detroit.” He later said Patrica is waiting on the Giants job.
Nobody knows what to believe right now. At this point, I still feel that Matt Patricia is the next head coach of the Detroit Lions, but I still find myself irked. And that irkness (not a real word) comes from all the hoopla that continues to surround this Giants job.
As of today, Bill Belichick, Matt Patricia, Nick Saban, Vince Lombardi’s ghost, John Madden, Bud Kilmer and everyone else they’ve already interviewed for the job is apparently next in line or interested in the Giants job. For what reason? I don’t know.
What I do know is that any coach that decides to take the Giants job over the Lions job is likely going to regret that decision. And here’s a few reasons why.
Matthew Stafford vs. Eli Manning
This should be the first no-brainer of them all. On one hand, you have a 29-year-old elite quarterback that is playing at the top of his game right now. A quarterback that finished in the top five or six in every single category this season.
On the other hand, you have a 36-year-old Eli Manning who is coming off a down year, all things considered. Outside of his tremendously bad 2013 season, this was the worst year Manning has had since he was still a young pup back in 2007. Yes I know the Giant won the Super Bowl that year. Let’s not forget they also just squeaked into the playoffs and Manning threw 20 interceptions that season.
The Giants backup situation is Geno Smith, a guy that has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he can’t be a starting quarterback in the NFL. Yes, you do have the second overall pick in the draft, and there are some good choices of quarterbacks there, but then you’re in the boom-or-bust column big time with a first-time coach and a rookie quarterback. Sounds pretty nerve racking. Why not go with the top-five guy that’s still playing top-five ball?
Everywhere else on offense favors the Lions as well
The Giants have Odell Beckham Jr., arguably one of the best receivers in the game when healthy. Outside of OBJ, you have Sterling Shepard, a second-year guy who had a pretty decent season until the injury bug bit him (731 yards and two touchdowns). Couple him with rookie tight end Evan Engram who grabbed 722 yards and eight touchdowns and you have a pretty nice group.
For the Lions, they have two 1,000 yard receivers in Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr. That would be great on its own, but they also had three other players that went over 400 yards receiving in 2017. It would have been four had TJ Jones got one more yard before his injury. The Lions, at least in the passing and receiving game, have weapons galore that are already in place.
On the running side of things, both of these teams are horrible. But the advantage goes to the Giants. They finished 26th in the league rushing yards while the Lions were dead last again.
The Lions also have the better defense.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. This Giants defense was incredible in 2016. Well, they were far from that in 2017. They were 31st in yards allowed and 27th in total points allowed. The Lions weren’t worlds apart from them. They were 27th in yards allowed and 21st in points allowed.
New York dealt with some injuries in 2017, as did the Lions, but there’s a lot that points to that Giants defense getting even worse in 2018. The team is set to potentially lose their starting OLB Devon Kennard (a guy on my Lions free agency wish list) starting corner Eli Apple, strong safety Nat Berhe, CB Russ Cockrell, and CB Darryl Morris. So basically everyone in the secondary not named Landon Collins.
The Lions don’t appear to be losing anyone of note at this point. They’re likely to lock up Ezekiel Ansah, and Haloti Ngata has expressed that he would like to come back in 2018. Aside from them—and maybe Tahir Whitehead—the Lions are not going to lose players much as they’re going to ask them to leave anyways.
Speaking of Eli Apple...
There appears to be some division with this team.
A couple weeks back, Landon Collins called Eli Apple a cancer on a local New York ESPN affiliate. He, of course, walked this back in the past week and even apologized to Apple and said he’d like him to stay. But why would anyone want to play with a player that essentially threw you under the bus?
It’s not just that instance with this team. There was a lot of division going on during the season with the coaching staff and the front office. A 3-13 season will do that. But apparently benching your starting quarterback will too. I have to tell you, despite the team’s ownership being covered in success, I wouldn’t want to coach somewhere that I can’t bench my 36-year-old quarterback during a 3-13 season.
Lastly there’s this.
2017 isn’t the anomaly for the Giants, 2016 was.
One of the reasons so many keep bringing up this job—aside from New York City being a great market—is the fact that this Giants team went 11-5 just one year ago. And their defense had a lot to do with it. So the idea is that a defensive head coach could come in and right the ship real quick and then it’s championship time.
Well, that’s not exactly true. Yeah, the Giants went 11-5 in 2016, but they’ve also gone 22-42 in the four seasons that surround that one good year. This team with all of its championships and Patriots-killing lore is simply not that team anymore. If parity really is a thing in the NFL, we have to realize that it also applies to losing and rebuilding as well. That’s where the Giants are right now.
With the Lions, you get a team that’s had three winning seasons and two playoff berths in that same amount of time. Your job has a head coach is to get this team over the hump. That has to be more appealing than grabbing a rookie quarterback and starting this thing all over, right?
I made it pretty clear last week that Mike Vrabel is my favorite. Many Lions fans are on board with Vrabel as well. So this isn’t a situation where the Lions are going to lose their date the night before the dance. They’re going stag and have another great option that is far from a consolation.
What I am saying is that there is a lot leaning the Lions’ way, and it’s on Patricia to make the correct choice here. The ball is still firmly in the Lions’ court.
Other reasons include Detroit pizza just being better than New York pizza. Okay, that last one was a lie. I’m sorry, Detroit. You guys are good at making pizza, but New York wrote the book.