A month ago, we polled Detroit Lions fans on their thoughts about the 2018 offseason. Overall, the impression was relatively positive (as it is nearly every year). Though only 16 percent of fans gave Detroit an A+ through A- grade, well over half (61 percent) gave the Lions’ offseason a grade in the Bs.
Apparently, that feeling is not shared by some NFL executives. ESPN’s Mike Sando polled more than a dozen “decision-makers around the league” to create offseason grades for all 32 teams (ESPN Insider required). The Lions came in dead last, tied with the Carolina Panthers, with a D grade.
Part of the reason the Lions got the downgrade was their handling of the Matt Patricia hiring. Sando believes the Lions “should have been more thorough in its process” when it came to their failure to find the Patricia sexual assault allegations from 1996 before The Detroit News report dropped in May. “That lapse knocks down the Lions’ offseason grade,” Sando wrote.
That doesn’t really seem particularly fair to the Lions, seeing as there were several ethical and legal hurdles the Lions would have had to jump to find those allegations. Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that the Patriots employed this man for 14 years without knowing of the allegations.
Admittedly, it wouldn’t have been hard to find these records had they known what they were looking for, and, fairly or not, it does look bad on the organization for not knowing when The Detroit News approached him. However, in the end, it doesn’t appear that this ordeal will really hurt the team all that much in the long run.
One NFL executive did give the Lions props for upgrading their running game, but still has concerns about their overall improvement.
“On the field, one piece that was a positive for them is they will have more of an emphasis on getting their running game going,” they anonymous exec said. “I do not know how consistent it is going to be, and then I have no idea what their defense is going to look like with the changeover and the pieces they have.”
Overall, it’s true the Lions didn’t make any big waves during the offseason. In free agency, they opted for a bunch of low-cost, low-profile players, with the lone exception being linebacker Devon Kennard. As for the NFL Draft, the Lions made a few risky picks that many draft analysts believed to be reaches.
But with the aggressive moves to fix the 32nd-ranked running game, and a brand new coaching staff on the defensive side of the ball, I think it’s hard to justify ranking Detroit’s offseason as the league’s worst.
The NFL exec still thinks the Lions will compete, but just wasn’t all that impressed with this offseason moves.
“Stafford will give them a chance every Sunday, but offseason-move-wise, I do not feel like they got better.”