Published January 9, 2017
Bob Quinn’s honeymoon ended on a cold January night in Seattle.
Quinn, the impish looking boy general manager of the Lions, can no longer say he’s new to the job.
He can no longer fly under the radar and be the lowest profile sports executive in Detroit.
This Greta Garbo thing that Quinn had going on during the 2016 football season is now squashed. It happened when the final gun sounded on the Lions’ season after their garish 26-6 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in an NFC Wild Card game.
When Quinn first arrived on the scene about a year ago, introduced as the new football boss of the Lions, he was coolly evasive in his first presser. He gave a name/rank/serial number performance.
No catchy slogans. No verbosity. No gushing over the talent he was inheriting.
It was refreshing, frankly.
Quinn, at the time, was The Man from New England. He was the backwoods doctor who was brought in to help a sickly patient. His connection to the Patriots preceded him.
He talked to the press on that January day a year ago and he didn’t really have much to say. It was one of the more forgettable pressers that we’ve had around here.
I’m old enough to remember the bluster of Dickie Vitale, Matt Millen, Marty Mornhinweg and, yes, even the Red Wings’ squeaky-voiced Jimmy Devellano.
All of the above promised the denizens of Detroit the moon and the stars. And other than Jimmy D, who actually made something of himself, all that the aforementioned delivered was an empty bag that the fans held.
Not Bob Quinn.
Quinn was the Man from New England who spoke softly and with careful words. His opening presser was played so close to the vest, if it was a prize fight you would have asked for your money back.
But this is 2017 and Quinn has been on the job for a year and the Lions fan base isn’t in the mood any longer to be patient with the GM.
The good news is that Quinn seems up to the task at hand, which is to make the Lions, six-decade losers, a viable championship team.
The endorsement of coach Jim Caldwell, leaked the week leading up to the Seattle game, didn’t sit well with the football customers in town thirsting for a team they can be proud of.
I wasn’t crazy about that, either. It appeared to give Caldwell an out, and the coach took it. The Lions looked woefully ill-prepared for the Seahawks.
In lots of NFL cities, a playoff performance like the one the Lions gave in Seattle, which capped a horrific 0-4 finish to the season, would earn the coach the first flight out of town.
But not in Detroit.
So Quinn might not be off to the best start as he starts his first year of really being on the clock, given the premature endorsement of a coach whose entire team had that deer-in-the-headlights look about them in the playoffs.
But I still think that he can make up for it.
It says here that Quinn can draft a little. And despite veteran Anquan Boldin’s meltdown in Seattle, Quinn’s decision to bring the receiver to the Lions last summer on a one-year deal was a good, savvy one.
Quinn has holes to fill on the roster. That much is obvious. It will likely take two, maybe three more drafts to field a true championship-contending team in Detroit.
But Quinn did OK last spring, plugging some holes and taking that first step toward building something here.
I still don’t think that the coaching situation is Quinn’s highest priority.
If you pumped Quinn full of truth serum, he’d tell you that he knows that Caldwell likely isn’t the long-term answer for the Lions. The coach is a nice, decent man, but the one who will be tasked with molding the Lions program with Quinn’s fingerprints all over it, is somewhere else.
Quinn, right now, is more interested in building his roster, which is razor thin in some key areas.
Caldwell has one more year left on his four-year contract, so why not let him finish it out? There are lots more fish to fry.
I believe that Quinn will get around to the coaching situation when he sees fit. That may seem counterintuitive, but it actually makes sense.
No, making the playoffs two of the past three years isn’t anything to crow about, despite what some around and loyal to the organization will say, including a disturbing number of brainwashed fans on Twitter who looked at the Seattle game through Honolulu Blue-tinted glasses.
Quinn knows this. He’s the Man from New England, for gosh sake, where making the playoffs is a rite of passage. With the Patriots, the question isn’t “Will they make it?”, it’s “How far will they go?”
The Lions looked lost, disoriented and feeble in Seattle on Saturday night. It marked the third straight week that they were embarrassed in prime time.
Yes, that’s coaching.
But Quinn has his plate full with personnel needs that he must address first.
The great Bill Parcells once said that if he has to cook the meal, he’d like to buy the groceries, too. That’s why Parcells took coaching jobs with franchises who would also give him personnel power.
Quinn is going to be the man buying the groceries for the Lions, and when he’s ready, he’ll give them to his hand-picked chef.
That chef is likely not going to be Jim Caldwell. I think we all can agree on that. But Caldwell has a year left on his contract, so let him fulfill it, according to the GM. I wasn’t crazy about the timing of the endorsement, but it is what it is.
Bob Quinn’s honeymoon ended in Seattle on Saturday night. From now on, he’ll have to be higher profile. Say what you will about Stan Van Gundy, Al Avila and Kenny Holland, but none of those guys are media shy.
The Man from New England is on the clock. To the long-suffering Lions fans, he’s pretty much all that they’ve got right now.