Ian Rapoport, appearing as normal on NFL Network today, discussed Lions head coach Matt Patricia's tenuous job security heading into the final stretch of the season. The Lions, sitting at 4-6, are dangerously close to being eliminated from playoff contention before December even begins and, apparently, that could lead to a change in leadership in Detroit.
But while that's music to most Lions' fan's ears, what struck me the most from Rapoport's report was the low bar Martha Ford, the former chairman and primary owner of the team, set for Patricia to keep his job going into this season. According to Rap, or at least based on that way he worded it, Ford "demanded" that the Lions had to be "playing meaningful football in December. They had to be playoff contenders" for Patricia to remain employed. He's not doing that, but it's an extremely attainable goal for about 75% of the NFL.
In the NFC, where there are 16 teams, the Saints, Rams, Seahawks, Packers, Eagles, Bucs and Cardinals would all be in the playoffs if the season ended today. The Cowboys, Washington, Giants, Bears, Vikings, 49ers and, yes, Lions are all in playoff contention today. The only teams that are basically out of it are the Panthers and Falcons. So 87.5% of teams are in contention today.
As the season progresses, that number will drop, but at the same time it illustrates just how easy it is to be in playoff contention these days. For a coach who has accumulated a 13-28-1 record in three years as Lions head coach, you'd assume the expectations for this "make-or-break" season would be a little higher. At least tell him the Lions have to make the playoffs for goodness sake.
It's clear the Lions have different expectations for different coaches. Jim Caldwell went 36-28 with two playoff appearances in four seasons with the Lions and that wasn't good enough so they hired Patricia. Apparently for him just being in playoff contention is enough, even when he's proven to be one of the worst head coaches in the NFL.