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Bob Quinn’s offseason job: Become Bill Belichick circa 2000

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This offseason will be Bob Quinn’s defining moment.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Everything Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn has done for the past two seasons, and will be doing for the foreseeable future, will ultimately be compared back to his days in New England. In every move he makes, people will search for the slightest DNA strand of The Patriot Way, whether it’s actually there or not.

So far, there have been noticeable traits. He’s brought in the strength and conditioning coach from New England, overthrown Detroit’s scouting department, cut bait with some highly-drafted players, and even brought in a team nutritionist.

But with his biggest task now on the horizon—building a coaching staff—Quinn won’t be able to draw upon his days as a New England Patriot staffer. He is entering uncharted territory, and therefore must develop his own way of building a franchise. Though Quinn has said that the new coach will be making their own decisions when it comes to filling out a staff of coordinators and positional coaches, it’s clear from the rumors that Jim Bob Cooter might be sticking around that Quinn still certainly has his thumb on that scale.

Consider this: The New England Patriots have never fired a coach, or even a coordinator, since 1997, pre-Bill Belichick. Never has Bob Quinn bore witness to a complete change in team identity, or even something as small as a scheme change.

That isn’t to say the Patriots have never changed coordinators. They have. But the circumstances were obviously quite different than what the Lions are currently facing.

2005:

  • Offensive coordinator Charlie Weiss leaves for Notre Dame head coach job
  • Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel leaves for Browns head coach job

2006

  • Defensive coordinator Eric Mangini leaves for Jets head coach job

2009

  • Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels leaves for Broncos head coach job

2010

  • Defensive coordinator Dean Pees’ contract expires, takes LB coach job with Ravens

2012

  • Offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien leaves for Penn State head coach job

Longevity isn’t the only thing to pull from New England’s coordinator history. Consider the replacements for each of these vacancies. Every single hire was an internal one. Weiss was replaced by Josh McDaniels—former QB coach. McDaniels was replaced by O’Brien—former QB and WR coach. O’Brien was replaced by McDaniels, yet again.

The same is true on the defensive side. Crennel was replaced by Mangini—former defensive backs coach. Mangini replaced by Dean Pees—former LB coach. Pees was replaced by Matt Patricia—former safety/linebacker coach.

That is all to say, the Patriot Way has never had to endure such a drastic schematic change since its inception at the turn of the century. And even when Belichick walked into Foxborough as a head coach for the first time, he brought nearly the entire Bill Parcells coaching clan with him.

So, in essence, this is that exact moment for Bob Quinn—albeit two years into his job. He must create a coaching staff from which all future staffs will be plucked from. He must do something the Patriots haven’t had to do since 2000: Find a staff and coaching chain of command, and stick with it... forever.

Based on his first coaching hire—presumably Matt Patricia—he’s following the same path as Belichick: plucking from his old coaching tree. Quinn is relying on Belichick’s staff like Belichick relied on Parcells’ staff nearly 20 years ago. And with defensive coordinator Teryl Austin already out the door and defensive line coach Kris Kocurek not far behind, one can only imagine that more Belichick disciples are on their way, hoping to eventually climb the ranks in Detroit, like so many have in New England.

So take a look at the Patriots’ current coaching staff. I get the feeling some of those names are about to be very familiar in Detroit.