By Ashley Scoby
Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford wanted a new way of doing things, within a franchise that has won one playoff game in 57 years.
And although he won’t put a timetable on any major decisions yet, or declare when that mystical turnaround will begin, new Lions general manager and executive vice president Bob Quinn says it will come.
Decisions will inevitably start flowing quickly, as the Lions are already a week and a half into yet another offseason not punctuated by a playoff appearance.
In his first day on the job Monday, Quinn had only met head coach Jim Caldwell for about 30 seconds before Quinn’s introductory press conference. No decision on Caldwell’s future has been made, he said, although he expected it “sooner rather than later.”
“It’s going to be my feeling about if I can work with Coach Caldwell, his philosophy, his beliefs, will they mesh with mine,” Quinn said. “The scouting staff and the coaching staff have to mesh together. So if you can’t have that, it’s going to be a hard mix. So I really want to get to know Coach Caldwell and see if we can work together.”
Ford was asked if she would prefer Quinn kept Caldwell, but declined to give her opinion.
“I love Jim Caldwell,” she said. “So I probably don’t want to answer that question.”
Matthew Stafford’s future with Detroit was much firmer. Quinn wouldn’t comment on the majority of the roster, saying he had only evaluated it from “afar.” But Stafford is a “good quarterback,” Quinn said, and would be the team’s leader heading into the future.
Wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who is mulling his own future, is an important part of the equation too, but Quinn said he wouldn’t push him into deciding one way or another.
Quinn will report directly to Ford, in a “partnership” with team president Rod Wood. Wood will handle the financial aspect of the franchise, but Quinn will also do some number-crunching himself.
“We wanted somebody who could take on the whole football operation, (salary) cap included,” Wood said. “I will certainly be interested in the cap and the cash spending as it pertains to what we plan for the financial side but ultimately in how it’s used and the way we use it to sign our football team, that’s up to Bob.”
Quinn’s background is in scouting and personnel, and he comes from an organization that won four Super Bowls during his time there. Bringing parts of that so-called “Patriot Way” to Detroit will be the goal. An addiction to “the process” is what drives Quinn’s philosophy, and consistency is what that process is supposed to bring.
“It’s about consistency and it’s about the process,” he said. “Things in New England when I started there 16 years ago didn’t happen overnight. It’s a step by step, day by day, month by month process. One of many things I learned in New England was that we’re always striving to get better. Whether it’s scouting, whether it’s coaching, whether it’s in the weight room, nutrition, analytics, if we can get one step better every day, that’s putting this organization in the right direction.”
For an organization that’s never had consistency – on the winning side, at least – bringing in someone like Quinn from the outside was what ownership wanted.
Said Ford: “I just thought we needed a fresh start.”