By: Will Burchfield
In Bob Quinn’s first media appearance since the offseason, the Lions’ general manger explained the organization’s decision to retain Jim Caldwell for the fourth and final year of his contract in 2017.
“Making the playoffs is pretty difficult to do in this league, as a lot of coaches and front office people know,” Quinn told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Wednesday night. “So I was really glad to bring Jim back for next year and really excited about keeping the focus on Saturday night in Seattle.”
Despite losing the final three games of the season, the Lions (9-7) forged their way into the playoffs as the sixth seed in the NFC. Including their postseason appearance in 2014, they are one of only six NFC teams to make the playoffs at least twice in the past three years.
The others are Green Bay, Dallas, Carolina, Arizona and Seattle, the latter of whom the Lions will face on Saturday night.
Amid a slew of injures this season, the Lions leaned heavily on a number of young players. Tack on the rookies who played from the start, and it’s clear that Caldwell oversaw an important period of player development.
“Jim’s done a really good job,” Quinn said. “Him and this staff have really put together this team with help from my scouting staff and they’ve really done a good job developing some of the young players. We’ve got quite a number of rookies on the team that are playing significant roles so I’m really happy with how that has gone.”
Both first-round pick Taylor Decker and second-round pick A’Shawn Robinson played major roles from the beginning of the year, with Decker in particular showing impressive growth.
“We’ve got a number of guys that have contributed really from the start of the season,” Quinn said. “Taylor Decker started every game at left tackle and that’s a pretty difficult feat for a rookie. He’s done a real solid job. That position’s a really hard position to play and Taylor’s done a nice job of getting better every week and kind of really studying his opponent and knowing what kind of game that he has to play each and every week cause the defensive ends in this league come in all shapes and sizes and you can’t always play the same games against these pass rushes.”
In addition to Decker and Robinson, third round pick Graham Glasgow has performed well in relief of injured center Travis Swanson. Other members of Quinn’s first draft class who made meaningful contributions in their rookie season included safety Miles Killebrew, linebacker Antwione Williams, defensive end Anthony Zettel and running back Dwayne Washington.
Quinn said he has “great expectations of these guys being even better next year.”
And he’s trusting Caldwell to help facilitate that.