LIONS PRESIDENT ROD WOOD
Opening Statement: "Good afternoon and thank you for coming today. I have just a few opening comments. I will not be taking any questions at this point until after Bob (Quinn) speaks. I want to start off by thanking Ernie Accorsi for his incredible help in our search for our new general manager. We had heard great things about Ernie from everybody we had spoken to, and after we engaged him, I can tell you that everything that we heard was exceeded. He was unbelievably helpful in this process. I want to make a few comments about what we released yesterday on Ernie’s new role. It’s undefined, all I know is I wanted to have him continue to be around. After we were flying home from the Chicago game, I spoke to Mrs. Ford and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to keep Ernie around if he would be willing to do so?’ I had a very brief phone conversation with him about that and he’s agreed to do it. He’ll be a resource available to me and to Bob, should he need it, to advise us as we continue to go forward. It’s a great addition to our staff. I also want to thank Sheldon White for the job he did as our interim GM. I want to thank Sheldon for keeping things together in the second half of the year and thank him again on behalf of the whole organization and the Ford Family.
Now, about Bob. Bob was identified as a top candidate very early on in our process. Ernie identified him as somebody that we definitely wanted to have on our list. He brings with him 16 years of experience with one of the most successful organizations not just in professional football, but in all of professional sports. Bob has progressed through the Patriots organization, most recently serving as Director of Pro Scouting. He was there for six Super Bowl appearances and four Super Bowl wins. During the interview process, it became obvious to everyone that Bob was ready for this job. He had a great idea of what he would do as our general manager, has a great system that he will bring to the Lions, knows what it takes to build a winning organization and is a person of great personal character. On behalf of Mrs. Ford and her entire family, it gives me great pleasure to introduce our new Executive Vice President and General Manager, Bob Quinn, who will be reporting directly to Mrs. Ford."
LIONS EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND GENERAL MANAGER BOB QUINN
Opening Statement: "Thanks for coming out today, everybody. I really appreciate the support. First off, a couple ‘Thank You’s.’ Mrs. Ford, thank you very much for having me here today, Muff (Martha Ford Morse) , Sheila (Ford Hamp), Bill (Ford) Jr. and Elizabeth (Ford Kontulis), thank you very much. Rod (Wood), we’ve developed a quick relationship here in the last week or so and I really feel that we have a great thing to build upon in the coming months and years. Thank you also to Ernie Accorsi for the great support over the last week.
Next is my family. You know, in this business, your wife has to be a very special person, and I know I have that in Julie. She’s my best friend, my confidant and the smartest person I know. My son Kyle, he might have a Tom Brady jersey or a Julian Edelman jersey underneath there, so we might have to check that. I’m here with you buddy. And Grace, Grace is only concerned about finding a soccer team, so if anyone knows of a local soccer team for an eight-year-old girl, we have one. My parents, very special people to me. They instilled in me at an early age hard work and good values. My sisters and the rest of my extended family, I have a large group here today, and each and every one of them have been very supportive, and I would not be here today without them.
On to the Patriots, I have a long list of people I need to thank, starting with Robert Kraft, Jonathan Kraft, Dan Kraft, a tremendously supportive family to work for. Bill Belichick, I feel like I was very lucky to work for the greatest NFL coach in the history of the game. Without his guidance and support, I would not be standing here today. Nick Caserio in the scouting department at the New England Patriots. I feel like they’re the best scouting department in the National Football League. Thanks, Nick. The entire football operations and support staff, they deserve a lot of credit for what happens in New England.
I’ve had some influences in my career that I want to state right now. Bucko Kilroy, Scott Pioli, Thomas Dimitroff and Jason Licht. I’ve taken something from a lot of people in this business, but I think those four people, along with Coach Belichick and Nick Caserio, are the main ones. I’m not going to try to come in here and cut and paste everything we did with the Patriots. The success I had came from something to strive for, but we will create our own identity. I learned a great deal about player evaluation, player acquisition, the draft, how to organize a scouting department, and most importantly, the marriage between the scouting department and the coaching staff. All of our decisions will be based on what’s in the best interest of the Detroit Lions, period. We will have a plan. We will use all avenues of player acquisition. The NFL Draft is not the only way to acquire players, free agency, trades, waiver wire, tryouts, other leagues. We will use analytics as a supplemental tool, not a primary tool in scouting. Our team will be based on having outstanding depth. Injuries happen in this game. One of my main roles with the Patriots was to find that next player, and I feel like we are going to have to do that here with the Lions. Our culture will be one of great work ethic and no egos. We will create a working class attitude throughout the organization. The city of Detroit, the state of Michigan are known for hard work. The Detroit Lions will have a culture of hard work. The auto industry is based on hard work and these fans deserve that.
I look forward to meeting everyone in the organization. I’ve met some great folks today in my first day here from the media and anyone else that touches the team. It’s going to be one of the first things I do. I want to learn everybody’s role here and I think it’s really important to have great people in the organization to get this thing headed in the right direction. In terms of the Detroit Lions as a football team, I’ve evaluated the team from afar. I don’t think it’s really fair to make the complete evaluation until you get in the building, meet the players, meet the coaches and see what they have to say. There’s one goal here, and one promise I made to Mrs. Ford is winning. For that to happen, everyone needs to be on the same page to be in the best position with the right plan. Every person in this building has a job to do and each job is important."
On if he has made a determination on Head Coach Jim Caldwell’s future: "I have not. I was introduced to Coach Caldwell this morning for the first time, so that’s something that’s definitely going to be happening sooner rather than later. I have a great deal of respect for Coach Caldwell. During his time in Indianapolis, we played against them numerous times. I’ve heard great things about him from my colleagues around the league, but that process has yet to start."
On if he has set a timetable for his coaching decision: "No timetable has been set."
On what will go into the coaching decision: "It’s going to be my feeling about if I can work with Coach Caldwell, his philosophy, his beliefs, will they mesh with mine. As I said in the opening statement, 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."
On what he thought of Caldwell’s performance last season: "I mean, he got put in a difficult situation after the start of the season, so I have a great deal of respect with how the team responded. I think it’s a whole body of work though. It isn’t just this season, it’s his entire career that we’re going to discuss and talk about."
On the difference between maintaining a winning organization and building a winning organization: "That’s a great question. It’s about consistency and it’s about the process. 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."
On what was most appealing about the position: "Mrs. Ford and the ownership. I met with Mrs. Ford on a couple different occasions and each time I came out of it saying, ‘She wants to win,’ and that’s what I’m about is winning."
On if he learned anything about Caldwell from their meeting this morning: "No, it was a very brief introduction. It lasted maybe 30 seconds, so no."
On why he thinks he’s ready for this job: "Sixteen years of experience at the organization I came from. I felt I have a really good feel for player acquisition and I think my leadership and management skills will be able to oversee the entire football operation."
On if he feels he can quickly build a winning team: "I’m not going to put any timetables on anything. I think that gets you into trouble in the long run, so my job is to come in here every day and do the best thing I can do, whether it’s player acquisition, whether it’s helping the coaches, helping the trainers, the strength coaches, that’s really what my goal is. Make everyone in this building better."
On his plan to meet with WR Calvin Johnson regarding his potential retirement: "You know, I have obviously a great deal of respect for Calvin. He’s an outstanding player. I know he put out a statement a week or two ago. I think we’re going to stay with that statement right now and when the time and the place is ready, I will definitely get in touch with Calvin."
On how much he intends to pursue Johnson this offseason: "I’ve found over my experience in the National Football League that the time, the couple weeks after the regular season is over is not a time to push a player into staying or going. This is a long season, this is a tough game, so I’m not in a position to put any pressure on Calvin Johnson. I’m not going to do that."
On the decision behind retaining or dismissing a head coach: "That’s a good question. I think it’s a process, and I’ve kept a list of attributes of a head coach over my time in New England. Not just Coach (Bill) Belichick, but all the coordinators that have come through there that have become successful head coaches across the league or in college, so I think I have a pretty good grasp of what I’m looking for."
On his pre-determined perceptions of Caldwell: "No pre-conceived notions, no recommendations from ownership. This decision will be mine and mine alone."
On balancing the timeline of making a decision on the coaching staff: "Yeah, it’s a tough balance, but I’m not going to put any timetable on it and I think I’m going to go through the process of talking to Coach and make a decision from there."
On Lions players supporting Caldwell: "Yeah, that’s a good question. I think it’s – I don’t know these players personally, so no one has ever communicated directly with me. So, any comments that might have been made prior to, I have no knowledge of."
On factoring in the players’ sentiments regarding Caldwell: "I can’t put a percentage on it. I’m sorry."
On if he can win a championship with Caldwell as the head coach: "From what I know, like I said at the beginning, I’m going to meet with Coach Caldwell here in the next couple of days, so until then I’m going to reserve judgment and go from there."
On what style of football he prefers his team to play: "Yeah, I’m not a coach, so whoever the coach is of the Detroit Lions, whether it’s Coach Caldwell or somebody else, I’m going to get players to fit their system. I’m not going to force a player on a coach."
On determining if he can win a championship with Caldwell: "I don’t know Coach Caldwell well enough to make that decision, is what I said."
On when he plans to meet with Caldwell: "I don’t think that’s going to be today."
On his initial evaluation of the roster: "Yeah, as I stated earlier, I think when you evaluate a team from afar like I have been as a director of pro scouting, I’ve been watching the Lions for a long time, it’s hard to make firm decisions until you actually get in the building. Listen to coaches, see the injury report, talk to the trainers, so I have no firm decisions on any player or any needs just yet."
On the Patriots’ philosophy on knowing when to hang on to or let go of certain players: "I think the most important evaluation of a football team is knowing your own team. You see these guys in practice every day, you see them in the meeting rooms, you see them in the weight room. If you can’t make proper decisions on your own football team, it’s going to be really difficult to go out and sign other players. So, I think if you have a really good grasp of who you have below those players, and will they be able to step in, it will kind of help you form those decisions."
On the attributes he looks for in a head coach: "I’m going to keep those to myself."
On former Patriots executives not being successful after leaving for positions with other teams: "I think the executives that have left New England before me actually have done a good job. Thomas Dimitroff, Scott Pioli built a very good football team in Kansas City. Jason Licht’s got the Tampa Bay Bucs headed in the right direction, so with all due respect to Coach Belichick and Tom Brady, I think a lot of good people have left there and done good things."
On the challenges of identifying the issues that will help lead the Lions to consistency: "Right, well, that’s one of my first jobs here is identifying those problems. I don’t have a list of problems just yet. Like I said before, I’m not going to evaluate the team from afar and come in and start changing things. I want to get in the building, learn the people, learn the players before I make any decisions."
On if he has already made any changes to the Lions scouting department: "I have not."
On if he plans to talk to QB Matthew Stafford and other players on the team as part of his decision regarding the coaching staff: "I’m not so sure when exactly I’m going to meet with Matthew (Stafford). I think he’s obviously a very important part of this conversation and I do look forward to speaking to him. I just don’t know exactly when that’s going to be."
On if he plans to bring in other members from the Patriots to form his staff: "I have some people in mind. In this league, it’s not exactly easy to get people from other teams to come with you, but I’m working towards that."
On if he plans to retain Lions Vice President of Player Personnel Sheldon White: "I’m not sure yet."
On his initial impressions of QB Matthew Stafford: "He’s a good quarterback. I think he’s the quarterback that we want here for the future."
On if he plans to meet with any players before making a decision on Caldwell: "Probably, yes."
On how he evaluated the rosters in New England: "Yeah, I mean, we do a self-evaluation on a weekly basis. So, it starts off every week after the game, it ends at the season, it’s the injury situation. At the end of the season you make a list of needs that you have for your team for the next season, then you have that list and you work through it from the end of the previous season through Week 1 of the next regular season. So, it’s an ongoing process."
On if he prefers to build a team from a particular position group onward: "I have no preference. My goal here is to create a winning football team."
On the risk of waiting on a coaching decision: "As I stated before, there’s no timetable on any of those things."
On if he will take into account the assistant coaches in his decision: "I mean, it starts with Jim (Caldwell), obviously, and I have a great deal of respect for him. I don’t know a lot of his assistant coaches personally, so it all starts with Jim."
On what entices him about this job that makes him confident he can turn the team into a winner: "In my meetings with Mrs. Ford and her family, she wants to win and I want to bring winning to this organization. So, she made it very clear to me that she’s going to give me all the support I need to create a winning environment and a winning team here for Detroit."
On the players already in place on the team: "Like I said, I’m not making any timetables about how fast we’re going to win championships around here. This is a day-by-day, month-by-month process that we’re going to do this thing the right way. We’re not going to build it for the quick, we’re going to build it for the long haul."