By: Will Burchfield
So much of what appeals about Lions GM Bob Quinn is his history with the New England Patriots. Groomed in a winning organization known for finding every strategic edge, Quinn figures to bring the same forward-thinking approach to the Lions.
Last year, he turned heads by spending a draft pick on a long snapper. (So far, the move has flopped.) This year, he hired a former offensive coordinator to help with…the defense. George Godsey, whose entire 13-year coaching career has been spent on the offensive side of the ball, will join the Lions’ staff this season as a defensive assistant in charge of special projects.
It’s Quinn’s belief that Godsey can help the defense by providing an opposing point of view.
“When you’re an offensive coach for as long as he’s been, he probably has a pretty good perspective of the defense,” Quinn said on Wednesday at the NFL combine in Indianapolis. “I want to think outside the box a little bit and kind of help our defensive coaches (see) how offenses are going to attack us.”
It’s certainly not a conventional hire. Then again, what good is there in falling in line with the rest of the league?
“It’s something that I learned over my career that if you can kind of look outside the box a little bit and kind of get a different perspective, I think it helps the team,” Quinn said.
Prior to joining the Lions last year, Quinn had worked exclusively for the Patriots. While he has pledged to bring his own philosophy to Detroit – “You have to be your own man,” he said before his first season – it’s fair to assume most of his decisions are informed by the lessons he picked up in New England.
So when he drafts a long-snapper or hires an offensive specialist to help with the defense, Quinn is seen as shrewd more than crazy. The Patriots’ success has seemed to extend him a measure of carte blanche.
How long it lasts will depend on how well it serves the team.
Godsey has a background of his own with the Patriots. He started as an offensive assistant in 2011 before coaching the tight ends from 2012-13. From there he moved onto Houston, where he spent the past two seasons as the Texans’ offensive coordinator.
His new position with the Lions will help make up for the loss of Randy Edsall, the team’s former director of football research and special projects who accepted a head coaching job at UConn last December.
“He’s not filling the exact role that Randy had. It’s going to be some of the same responsibilities, but he’s going to have a little bit more on the coaching side to look at the defense,” Quinn said.
It may pan out, it may not. Either way, it’s clear Quinn is searching for every competitive advantage, hoping to push the Lions ahead of the curve.