Detroit Lions: Takeaways from NFL Owners Meetings

Oct 28, 2015; Chandler
Oct 28, 2015; Chandler /

Detroit Lions General Manager, Bob Quinn and Head Coach, Jim Caldwell spoke at the NFL Owners Meetings on Wednesday morning. Among the things discussed were Caldwell’s thoughts on his job security, Quinn’s thoughts on the current status of the roster and the retirement of Calvin Johnson.

Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The festivities at the NFL Owners Meetings in Boca Raton, Florida were much quieter than they were the last time the league’s brass got together. Gone is the drama surrounding the Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers and (now) Los Angeles Rams attempt to land in SoCal. There were however many issues to address.

Representing the Lions were Bob Quinn and Jim Caldwell. For the Lions head coach, it was his first time speaking publicly since Quinn was named the new general manager by owner Martha Ford. When Quinn took the job, there were many that felt Caldwell’s job security was uncertain at best. Caldwell would obviously go on to keep his job and the third-year HC had this to say when asked if he was “feeling the pressure” when Quinn took over.

"“It’s no different than any other year I’ve coached. Married 39 years, going into Season 39. Hasn’t changed. One of the things you well know is I don’t worry a whole lot about things that I can’t control.”"

The comments made by Caldwell shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. After all, if you’ve ever watched a Lions game you know about his calm demeanor, a trait that some even call a fault. Nonetheless, Caldwell made it clear that there were a lot important things to take away from Detroit’s 7-9 season of 2015 — some good, some bad — and the film tells the story.

"“I had some time, so I utilized it,” he said. “I went through every single cut-up — offensively, defensively, kicking game. I wrote up all my evaluations on the plays and etc., from the schematic standpoint. Typically those are things I would have done along with the staff, but I had a little time, so I took advantage of it.”“…I mean, we’re looking at everything from personnel to schemes. In terms of how we did things, and why we did things. If there’s a better way. So you go through that whole process. You observe, you take a look at what exactly you think you saw, and why, and then you kind of analyze that along with what you expected to get.”“In some cases, there were things that were good. And in some cases, weren’t so good.”"

“His idea was to feel he could be a No. 1 at another team. And even though he said that wasn’t important to him, it became important, all of a sudden, again.” – Bengals HC, Marvin Lewis

When asked about the offense headed into 2016, he had all good things to say — both in regards to offensive coordinator, Jim Bob Cooter and the newly signed, Marvin Jones. Jones caught a career-high 65 passes for 816 yards in 2015. After hitting the market following the beginning of the new league year, he wound up choosing Detroit despite lucrative offers from both the Cincinnati Bengals and New England Patriots. His reasoning for this is similar to Golden Tate’s back when he signed with the team in 2014 — he felt it was the best place to maximize his potential.

As far as Cooter goes, Caldwell likes what he’s seen.

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After taking over for former coordinator Joe Lombardi at the midway point of last season, Cooter slowly turned the offense back into a formidable unit. Starting with the offensive line, Lombardi simplified the blocking schemes, which in turn kept quarterback Matthew Stafford upright far more often. With the improved protection, Stafford was able to improve his completion percentage, (70 percent) as well as his touchdown-to-interception ratio, (19-2) over the final eight games. Headed into next year the hope is that things will improve even more by utilizing the time in the offseason to prepare and continue developing relationships.

"“It’s going to be pretty exciting,” coach Jim Caldwell said over breakfast on Wednesday morning at the NFL owners meetings. “He’s made some significant strides, I think. We’re performing better, and can’t wait to see what he does when he has an offseason under his belt.”“I think the scheme itself is a fairly complex one. It’s one that certainly tries to utilize the people you have in the best possible way. But it’s also one that tries to put stress and pressure on the opposition in a number of different ways, with pace, with scheme, with forcing you to get into certain looks and trying to take advantage of them. But it all depends upon the guys you have operating them.”“Overall, I think it’s going to be a fairly decent shift. But the shift will depend on — you know, we have new guys, new players, and just how quickly they can adapt. But I think they’re going to be able to adapt pretty well.”"

Among other things discussed was the retirement of future Hall-of-Famer, Calvin Johnson. While both Caldwell and Quinn are excited to have added Jones to the wide receiving corps, they also made it clear that there is no replacing Megatron.

"“Listen, no one’s going to replace Calvin Johnson,” Quinn said. “I’ve said that, and I think everyone says that. So, it’s going to be a little bit of a different look offensively because we don’t have Calvin, but Calvin’s an iconic player. We all know that. So, I’m not saying it’s one person that’s going to go in and replace that. That’s unrealistic. But, I feel like we have a good core group of guys from not just the receivers, but the tight ends and the backs that are going to contribute to the offense.”"

Along with Jones, Detroit also signed wide receiver Jeremy Kerley, safeties Rafael Bush and Tavon Wilson, cornerback Johnson Bademosi and defensive tackle Stefan Charles. They were also in-play for former Seattle Seahawks left tackle, Russel Okung prior to him landing with the Denver Broncos. According to Quinn, the price tag that was on Okung and some of the other big named free agents was too high for his liking.

As the NFL Owners meeting begin to wrap up, the attention will now begin to shift to the NFL Draft. There are still areas of concern and holes present on the Lions roster, and the draft is not only the best way to round out a roster — it’s also the cheapest. It will be interesting to see which direction Quinn goes on draft day during his year in Detroit. The Lions have a plethora of picks, the question is how will they use them. Quinn’s former team, the New England Patriots, were one of the best in the league at making the most of their draft picks. Now lets see how that carries over to the Lions.