Detroit Lions: Is Bob Quinn really the worst general manager in the NFL?

Bob Quinn, Detroit Lions (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Bob Quinn, Detroit Lions (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Is the Detroit Lions’ Bob Quinn really the worst general manager in the NFL?

From bright, young NFL executive to being ranked the worst general manager in the entire league. That’s quite a fall from grace. But it appears to be the journey Bob Quinn is on heading into his fifth season with the Detroit Lions.

But Quinn’s story in Detroit remains unwritten as there’s still a chance for redemption. Although its current trajectory isn’t looking good. Coming off a 3-12-1 season, and with a mandate from ownership to make the struggling Lions a playoff contender in 2020, Quinn and third-year head coach Matt Patricia are both up against it.

Yet, this duo showed little urgency this offseason despite obviously being on the hot seat in Detroit. Quinn opted not to bring in any big-name free agents this year, instead choosing to sign even more former New England Patriots to help bolster a disappointing defense that ranked 31st last season in total yards allowed.

Ironically, Patricia came to Detroit in 2018 following a uber-successful run leading the Patriots’ defense to six-straight conference championship games and two Super Bowl titles as New England’s highly-regarded defensive coordinator under legendary head coach Bill Belichick. Yet, the Lions’ defense has trended downward under his watchful eye in Motown.

Patricia was clearly Quinn’s choice to replace Jim Caldwell as head coach three years ago, as the two had a prior relationship during their respective long runs within the Patriots’ organization. Quinn inherited Caldwell when he arrived in Detroit back in 2016, with the then second-year head coach coming off a 7-9 season.

Both Quinn and Caldwell would help lead the Lions to back-to-back winning records with the team earning a playoff berth in 2016. But despite posting an identical record the following year, this time without a postseason appearance, Caldwell was unceremoniously fired despite posting a 36-28 record and taking Detroit to the playoffs twice in four years.

Without Caldwell at the helm, Quinn and the Lions have posted a disappointing 9-22-1 record over the past two seasons. And the general manager’s choices are seemingly to blame. That’s lead to Patrick Daugherty of ranking Quinn as the worst GM in the entire NFL.

"“Do you have strong feelings about Bob Quinn? Does anybody? Where are the impact players? Where is the plan other than cycling through people Bill Belichick allowed to walk in free agency? Why was Jim Caldwell fired after back-to-back 9-7 seasons only to be replaced by Belichick’s least impressive mini-me, Matt Patricia?”"

Daugherty’s biggest indictment of Quinn is his inability to create an identity for the Lions outside of simply copying what the Patriots have done. And despite being on the hot seat, this group has chosen to double-down on those plans this offseason, signing even more ex-Pats to the roster in the face of possible unemployment.

Surely, Quinn has failed to do what he set out to in Detroit. Now, all he can hope for is that his plan to turn the Lions into the Patriots Midwest finally works. But the truth is many of the moves the young executive made that were heralded early on have produced little results.

Quinn’s draft record has certainly taken a hit, with first-round selection in linebacker Jarrad Davis and second-round pick cornerback Teez Tabor being his biggest misses to date. While the jury is still out on first-rounders like left tackle Taylor Decker, center Frank Ragnow, and tight end T.J. Hockenson, Quinn landed a bonafide superstar in wide receiver Kenny Golladay in the third round back in 2017. And his latest draft haul that includes cornerback Jeff Okudah and running back D’Andre Swift could be his best.

ALSO READ: Grading every Bob Quinn draft pick since 2016

But the hits have been few and far between with many of Quinn’s draft choices landing in the meh category. His acquisitions via free agency and trades haven’t fared much better over time either.

Most noticeably, the midseason trade for defensive tackle Damon Harrison back in 2018 that seemed to spark a defensive turnaround in Detroit. But the player known as Snacks struggled with injuries last season and the two sides would eventually part ways.

The Lions landed Pro Bowl defensive tackle Mike Daniels last July after his surprising release from the Green Bay Packers. And while it appeared Detroit would initially dominate behind the interior presence of both Harrison and Daniels, neither defender was able to stay healthy last season with the latter starting in just two games and recording a single sack.

That seems to be a reoccurring theme during Quinn’s tenure in Detroit. While most of his choices seem well-thought-out and make sense at the time, they never seem to pan out. As a result, Quinn appears to be embarking on a make-or-break season for both himself and his head coach.

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If Patrick Daugherty is to be believed, the Detroit Lions are in the position that they are in due in large part to the choices made by Bob Quinn. And there are 29 other NFL general managers that could have done it better. And now it appears Quinn has one last chance to prove his growing naysayers wrong.