No matter what anyone thought of the year-end press conferences, or how much of a plan or foundation is in place, one thing is very clear: there is nowhere to go but up at the start of this new year. The state of the franchise is such that Detroit is viewed as the worst team in the league by almost everybody.
Despite losing two fewer games than the Cincinnati Bengals, the Lions finished below the holders of the number one overall pick in the draft in a survey of MMQB Sports Illustrated writers. Of the seven voting staff members of MMQB, three ranked the Lions last while the Panthers and Bengals attracted two votes each. Unfortunately for the Lions, every voter who put a different team in last place put the Lions in the next worst position. So, instead of being tied for last place as they were heading into Week 17, the Lions clinched the bottom for themselves to end the year.
Similarly, Dan Hanzus for Around the NFL on NFL.com moved the Bengals out of last place from his Week 17 power rankings and put the Lions at the bottom to end the year. The writer noted with surprise that the Lions stuck with their coach after he “presided over one of the NFL’s worst defenses of the 21st century in 2019.” Although the Lions ought to get their starting quarterback in 2020, Hanzus doesn’t think that alone can determine the club’s success next year: they must “get markedly better on the other side of the ball. It is the No. 1 directive of the offseason.”
In ESPN’s final power rankings for 2019, the Lions continued their slide from 29th heading into Week 17 to just 30th at the end. Fortunately for the team, which had fallen in all but one week since Week 9, the season simply ran out of weeks for them to keep falling. But, like Dan Snyder, we can all give thanks that 2019 is over and we can all look forward to the near-certainty of a better 2020.
And now, on to the rest of today’s Notes:
- Is there anything the Lions can learn from the new teams that made the playoffs this year? Dave Birkett from the Detroit Free Press looked for inspiration from the 2019 experience of the 49ers, Packers, Bills, Vikings, and Titans.
- Eternal long snapper Don Muhlbach was featured in the final installment of the team’s Under the Helmet series on New Year’s Day
- Chris Spielman has thoughts on what the Lions ought to add to their defensive personnel:
Pass Rushers,corners,pass Rushers, corners, repeat https://t.co/Wx6fLuNUht— Chris Spielman (@chris_spielman) December 30, 2019
- Justin Rogers from the Detroit News also wrote up a player-by-player breakdown of the free agents signed by the Lions this past offseason to evaluate what the team got for their money.
- As part of the complete decade look-back series from the Detroit News, Rogers listed the most significant Detroit Lions stories from the last decade. Mike O’Hara at the official team site took a different angle with his decade wrap-up, selecting one big story for each year.
- Every Detroit Lions fan knows who the best wide receiver of the decade was, but according to Lauren Williams at mlive.com, an article that appeared on ESPN’s paywall-locked section by Football Outsiders’ Aaron Schatz acknowledged it as well.
- Pro Football Focus also put Calvin on their team of the decade, which was based on PFF scores.
- Interesting note for fans of financials and cap management:
Matthew Stafford’s contract now officially includes a voidable 2023, after the Lions restructured his deal last week. Spreads out his $6 million signing bonus over five years, rather than four. pic.twitter.com/q1beKgMlR7— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurkeNFL) January 2, 2020
- NFL.com tweeted out selections for the greatest moments by franchise, asking fans to vote for one to be an overall league winner. The Thanksgiving Day game tradition was featured for Detroit: