The Lions' dreadful 2020 season has finally come to an end.
It concluded in an all-too-familiar fashion, too, with a 37-35 loss to the Minnesota Vikings Sunday, with the ineptitude of Detroit's defense playing a huge factor.
In likely Cory Undlin's last game with the team, his defense allowed Vikings veteran quarterback Kirk Cousins to throw for 405 yards and three touchdowns, good for a passer rating of 127.6.
In totality, Minnesota accumulated 508 yards of offense, breaking the Lions' franchise mark for yards allowed in a single season -- which was previously held by the 2008 rendition of the team which lost all 16 games.
By allowing at least 35 points to Cousins & Co., Detroit also broke its franchise record for total points allowed in a single season -- a mark which was also previously owned by the '08 Lions.
It's a record of futility that Undlin and ex-Detroit head coach Matt Patricia will forever be attached to, along with the team's interim head man in Darrell Bevell.
In his postgame media session Sunday, Bevell, who's been the Lions' offensive play-caller since 2019, addressed what it was like being responsible not only for the offense but also the defense all of a sudden, as a result of holding the interim tag.
"I just wanted to have my fingerprint on the team, offense, defense especially, wherever it was. I think what I would like you to look at is the games that I was involved with, how they played. The enthusiasm that they played with, the heart that they played with," Bevell told reporters. "I mean, obviously, there are positions that we are going to evaluate and try to upgrade, all those things, because that happens every year -- turnover in the league. But, it is one thing to lay down and not finish the season, and it is another thing to play your heart out all the way until the last play. That was really my main focus, because there wasn’t a lot that I was going to be able to do with other parts."
Now, the focus of the franchise turns solely to filling its head coach and general manager openings.
And for that, the spotlight shines ever so brightly on Lions principal owner Sheila Ford Hamp, who will have the final call on the two hires.
It will make or break her reputation as the organization's lead boss and set the team up for success or further failure for years to come.
And, for all intents and purposes, it will be the two most important decisions she ever makes as owner, and she can ill-afford to screw them up.
The Detroit fanbase will be unable to stomach a repeat of the failed Matt Patricia-Bob Quinn era.
With the '20 campaign officially over, the book is now closed on the three-year run that Patricia and Quinn had as a duo in Motown, and the results, as you can expect, aren't pretty.
From 2018-20, the Lions posted a mark of just 14-33-1, with not one winning season and zero playoff appearances.
And, the pairing made numerous erroneous moves along the way.
From overvaluing and drafting linebacker Jahlani Tavai, a player with both faulty coverage and tackling skills, in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft to alienating and trading away two key members of the secondary in Quandre Diggs and Darius Slay, "Quinntricia" left the organization void of defensive playmakers.
And, it's put Hamp and team president Rod Wood in an unenviable position, where the only choice they have is to push the restart button.
Wood, who along with Hamp will be receiving insight from recently hired special assistant Chris Spielman, will play a significant role in the team's hiring process.
"I’m not making the final decision, nor is anybody else. It’s kind of a group effort," Wood said.
"My role is to facilitate discussion amongst all the people that should have a voice on these kind of decisions and make sure we reach a consensus, which so far we have on everything," Wood explained further.
It's why a thorough process -- which appears evident thus far, with internal candidates and a list of external ones having already been interviewed for the GM gig -- must be conducted before Detroit names both it next general manager and head coach.
Back during the team's last GM search (before it landed on Quinn in 2016), it utilized a search firm, with former N.Y. Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi serving as lead consultant.
Ultimately, it resulted in just two other candidates being interviewed for the position: Sheldon White, a former longtime Lions personnel man, and Kevin Abrams, the present assistant GM and vice president of football operations for the Giants.
A more expansive search was conducted before Patricia was hired in 2018, with then-Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and then-offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter being interviewed, along with four external candidates -- including Patricia and current Tennessee Titans head man Mike Vrabel.
The problem is that the wrong person was leading the search in Quinn.
Thus, my point remains intact: a thorough search needs to be executed before tabbing the organization's next GM and head coach.
It's key to preventing a repeat of the last hiring process that resulted in the disappointing stints of Quinn and Patricia in the Motor City.
Hamp has to absolutely hit on these next two hires. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it.
If she fails to do so, she not only will damage her legacy as team owner, but also and more importantly to Lions fans, the long-term future of the franchise.
Sheila, don't screw this up.