Lions Hire Bob Quinn as General Manager

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It is now official: New England Patriots Director of Pro Scouting Bob Quinn is the new General Manager for the Detroit Lions. The two sides agreed to terms, per numerous sources including Adam Schefter of ESPN, late Friday afternoon.

Quinn is a bit of an unknown commodity to much of the league, shrouded somewhat in secrecy by Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio. He was the third man on the football side of the org chart, in charge of pro personnel.

The 39-year-old has spent his entire post-collegiate life in the Patriots organization. Here is what he’s done for New England over the last 15 years, thanks to a handy screenshot from the NFL Network:

Quinn screenshot
Quinn screenshot /

Earlier in the week, Quinn was announced as one of four candidates. Interim GM Sheldon White, who has been with the Lions for over 20 years, also interviewed on Friday but did not get the job. His future with the team is unclear.

Also unclear is what happens with the coaching staff. Jim Caldwell remains as head coach, and when I exchanged texts with a current assistant coach at 6:29 PM on Friday he was unsure what was going to happen.

The timing here should concern Caldwell and his underlings. Because none of the other coaching openings have been filled yet, if Quinn wants to bring in his own coaching staff he can still have his pick of candidates. There are no known connections between Caldwell and Quinn.

Now for the editorial part…

Many folks are expressing consternation about tapping a Belichick underling. And that is fair; ex-Pats have generally not fared when not under The Hoodie. The most successful is current Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff, who built up a team from the ashes of the Michael Vick fiasco and won playoff games before a series of bad defensive choices set the team back.

I talked to a few Patriots sources early in the week when his candidacy was announced and the returns were mostly quite positive, albeit sort of vague. As noted above, New England is an incredibly closed-circuit organization and defiance of that private nature results in swift retribution.

Here’s a good tidbit that Doug Kyed of NESN provided,

"Gil Brandt said this about him: “There’s nobody close to this guy as far as knowledge and ability to evaluate. He understands analytics, he understands the salary cap, and this guy, to me, is a superior evaluator of people and players.”"

Should Quinn opt to bring in his own people, both Patriots coordinators are already hot candidates on the coaching carousel. Josh McDaniels (offense) and Matt Patricia (defense) have had their names bandied about as young, up-and-coming coaching candidates.

That is true of Patricia as well. McDaniels flopped in Denver, hitching his wagon to Tim Tebow for one shining moment before it crashed and burned spectacularly. Patricia on the other hand has never had a head coaching job. He’s an actual rocket scientist, a grad of RPI and a guy twice as smart as Jim Schwartz thinks Jim Schwartz is (thanks for the line Mork!).

I have no problem with Quinn bringing in Patricia and dropping the curtain on the Caldwell, and by extension Mayhew, era. That would almost certainly mean the departure of both current coordinators, however. And that would be a very real setback for Matthew Stafford, who was the best quarterback in the NFL over the last eight weeks with Jim Bob Cooter running the offense.

Maybe Quinn would allow Cooter to sing for his supper. Everyone I’ve asked about Quinn reiterates he’s a bright guy who understands the ramifications of his actions. That warms the heart, because this Lions organization has been remarkably short-sighted far too often.

I do not expect Teryl Austin back as Defensive Coordinator no matter what happens with Caldwell. He’s one of the top coaching candidates on the market. Could he get a chance to take over as head coach in Detroit? I’m sure that’s a question the search committee and interviewing group of the Lions asked him. We will find out soon.

As far as what to expect from Quinn’s scouting background, the Patriots are noted for identifying very specific roles for players. That is true from both the college and pro side, where they have had great fortune finding underutilized talent from other teams and turning them into very useful players. Rob Ninkovich and Wes Welker are two prominent examples.

They have not been shy about taking risks on athletic prospects and trusting their system and developmental prowess with the coaching staff. Look at guys like Chandler Jones, Jamie Collins, Sebastian Vollmer and Malcolm Butler, all of whom were better athletes than football players in their collegiate careers and are now above-average NFL starters as their positions. The Lions have not tasted much success at this, though Ziggy Ansah and Darius Slay have proven great choices from this mindset.

We will hear more about what happens with the coaches soon. Stay tuned to SideLion Report for all the updates and analysis!