Detroit Lions trading T.J. Hockenson does nothing but raise more questions about future

Detroit Free Press

First of all, let’s deal with the silliness.

Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes told a fib on Wednesday, talking about why he traded T.J. Hockenson to the Minnesota Vikings.

“This move was not reflective of our record,” he said with a straight face, an impressive feat on its own. “If our record was reversed, and you know, it made sense for us, then we would have still done it.”

OK, yeah. I gotta call bull pucky there. The only reason they made this trade is because this team is awful, has lost five-straight games and is years from contending. So be it. General managers don’t always tell the truth. You have to judge the actions, not the words. And what did this move say? The Lions are admitting this season was lost long ago. If the Lions didn’t plan to sign Hockenson long term, you might as get something out of him when his value is the highest. The idea behind it makes sense.

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“It made sense for them; it made sense for us,” Holmes said. “People are in different windows.”

And the Lions are still stuck in the drive-thru window, ordering Happy Meals off the kid’s menu, content with losing and begging for patience while talking about building for the future.

In theory, that makes sense. Suddenly, the Lions have growing cap space and serious draft capital. Shoot, they could have the No. 1 pick in the draft. But that’s also the most worrisome part about this.

What gives you confidence that Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell can make the right decisions that will impact this franchise for years to come? Every day, this feels more like Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia after Year 2.

Campbell could be gone after this year, if not next. I truly like the man, but he hasn’t proved he’s an NFL head coach.

Fact is, I am losing faith in both of Campbell and Holmes.

MORE FROM SEIDEL:Dan Campbell isn’t fully Lion-ized, but he’s showing warning signs

Nearly two years into this regime, we still don’t know if Campbell can develop talent or win games, and it feels like they have entered the tear down of a tear down.

Why can other young teams win?

Last week, Lions owner Sheila Hamp said something revealing, if not concerning.

“Our team is very young and that’s not an excuse, that’s a fact,” she said. “And young players are going to make mistakes, so we’ve had some key mistakes that have cost us games.”

Nope. That’s an excuse, basically giving this coaching staff and front office a pass.

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You know what’s young? The entire NFL. Yes, the Lions have the second youngest roster (the average Lion is 25.52 years old) behind only the Cleveland Browns (25.43). But other young teams have found a way to win. The Kansas City Chiefs have the fourth-youngest team (25.81), and they are doing just fine, sitting atop the AFC West. The New York Giants have the fifth-youngest team (25.85) and they are 6-2.

Shoot, the Philadelphia Eagles have the ninth-youngest team (26.04) and they are 7-0.

In the NBA, there is wide disparity between young teams and old, ranging from the Oklahoma City Thunder (22.6 years old) to the Milwaukee Bucks (30.1).

DAVE BIRKETT:Lions get meager return for T.J. Hockenson, set up for big future payoff

In the NFL, it’s negligible in comparison. Every team is between 25-27.

So please, don’t push the young card again.

The Lions are in this weird place. They wrap themselves with excuses — we are too young, we inherited a dumpster fire and we just need patience!

Fans will afford you patience if you show them something. Anything. A glimmer of progress. But what have you done to make it better 1½ years into this regime?

Why can other teams win with youth, new coaching staffs and turn it around faster?

To be clear, I’m not calling for anybody to get fired, and there is still time left this year to create some progress.

But man, I just don’t see much reason for hope right now.

Who will be making these draft picks?

“I believe in the leadership,” Hamp said. “Really, I mean it.”

So let’s review the early decisions of that leadership.

Give Holmes credit for adding some pieces to the offense.

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But remember, this is the guy who has been unable to improve the defense.

Give Holmes credit for acquiring picks through trades, dealing Matthew Stafford and Hockenson.

But remember, this is the guy who burned through two picks, a fifth- and seventh-rounder, for Trinity Benson.

Trinity Benson.

Give Holmes credit for finding Amon-Ra St. Brown.

But remember, this is the guy who traded for Michael Brockers, gave him a $24 million extension and he’s been so bad that he has turned into a healthy scratch.

When you view what Holmes has done in totality, what gives you faith that he can create a master blueprint, manipulating the salary cap, and build a successful team by mixing draft picks and free-agent additions?

“I think that we’ve proven that, you know, our offense can score a lot of points,” Holmes said.

‘IT SUCKS GOING THROUGH THAT’:Lions players react to T.J. Hockenson trade

Yes, they have scored points behind an offensive line largely built by Bob Quinn. But the offense has been terribly inconsistent. They haven’t scored in the second half of three straight games.

After you get past the big questions of Holmes’ and Campbells’ futures, the next major question facing this franchise is what to do at quarterback. That’s where this gets dicey. Remember, Holmes was the scouting director of the Rams when they traded up to get Goff. You really want the guy who loved Goff, who is an average NFL QB at best, to look at this crop of college talent and pick the Lions’ next franchise quarterback?

“I know this is difficult,” Hamp said. “A rebuild is hard. But we really believe in our process, we really believe in we’re going to turn this thing around the right way, through the draft. ”

So that’s where we are.

The Lions traded Hockenson, and the tear down continues.

It bakes in more excuses for this coaching staff, and the front office is heading toward a critical offseason with no proven track record that it knows how to build a complete, winning team.

Contact Jeff Seidel: Follow him on Twitter @seideljeff.

To read his recent columns, go to

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