It had been a while since Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn spoke with the media—the last time being the 2018 NFL Draft. So for his annual end-of-season press conference, Quinn spent extra time—going over 40 minutes—to address every single question thrown his way from a crowded media room in Allen Park.
He covered just about every single topic you could think of, so here’s a whittled down list of the top six takeaways from the presser.
1. Matthew Stafford isn’t getting traded
Local media members hammered Quinn with questions about Matthew Stafford right out of the gate, and the Lions general manager couldn’t have been any clearer: Stafford is the team’s quarterback going forward.
Quinn was unequivocal in his praise of Stafford, constantly mentioning how the perception outside of the building doesn’t match what it is inside the building. He told a story about how Stafford spent extra time before and after practice helping along some of the new receivers after the Golden Tate trade and Marvin Jones Jr. injuries left them shorthanded.
Bob Quinn said that Matthew Stafford went above and beyond before and after practice to try and get the new receivers (Ellington, Andy Jones, etc) to get them up to speed.— Pride of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) January 4, 2019
There’s no doubt Quinn sees Stafford as a good enough leader for this franchise.
2. 9-7 wasn’t good enough—and neither is 6-10
A lot has been made about Quinn’s comments from last year when he said 9-7 wasn’t good enough as a reason to justify firing then head coach Jim Caldwell. Quinn addressed that comment right out of the gate, saying that while 6-10 is obviously a step back in terms of overall record, both seasons were equal failures.
“Both seasons are disappointments,” Quinn said. “Because really we’re not playing this weekend, and if we’re not playing this weekend, we can’t get to our ultimate goal. The win-loss record is what it is, but really I’m sitting up here in the same boat as I was last year with a couple less wins.”
It’s a bit of a savvy move by Quinn to equate both seasons as equal failures, but he also took on accountability for the failures in 2018, saying he has to do a better job, and he doesn’t take the responsibility lightly.
3. Quinn didn’t know about Matt Patricia’s sexual assault allegations until days before the Detroit News article dropped
Bob Quinn addressed the sexual assault allegations from Matt Patricia’s past for the first time since releasing an official statement back in May.
Quinn said he first learned of the allegations when Patricia notified him The Detroit News was coming out with an article detailing the allegations from 1996. The Lions general manager refused to say whether or not Patricia would still be the head coach if they knew of those allegations before they made the hire.
“I’m not going to deal in hypotheticals,” Quinn said.
Quinn also said the team did an “extensive background check” during the hiring process and their own investigation after they learned of the fact. As to how the indictment didn’t come up in background checks, Quinn didn’t have an answer, simply stating he wasn’t the one to perform the background check.
Once learning of the sexual assault allegations, Quinn said the team did not consider firing Patricia after he had conversations with Patricia and did their own external research on the situation.
4. Golden Tate trade was too good to refuse
Quinn said they had been getting offers to trade Golden Tate as far back as August, but called those offers “insulting.” However, on trade deadline day, the Eagles had an offer at 8 a.m. and sweetened the pot just 90 minutes later.
“It’s just one of those things where it was just an offer we really couldn’t refuse for what the value was and for what we had left with the player, which was eight games,” Quinn said.
When asked if the results of the games prior—the Lions losing the the Seahawks—played any factor in “selling” at the trade deadline, Quinn said no.
“On those decisions—midseason trades—I have to take that out of the equation. I just got to do what’s best for the team at that point. Keeping the short term in focus, but have the long term obviously kind of looking ahead and see what we need for the future.”
5. The Lions tried and tried and tried to fix their tight end situation—and failed
Bob Quinn didn’t shy away from the team’s thought process this offseason, when their entire tight end corps was basically turned over, and he made it sound like their search for a valuable tight end never really stopped all year.
“Back in March, we talked to basically every tight end on the free agent market and tried to get those guys here,” Quinn said. “Some we were close on, some we weren’t. Some got paid an exorbitant amount of money that didn’t really produce this year. We made a run at those guys, the Rob Gronkowski thing is well documented. At (the) trade deadline, there were probably three or four conversations with teams about top tight ends around the league that just didn’t consummate. That’s the way the NFL works. You can’t guarantee you’re going to get somebody.”
As for looking back on the decision to cut Eric Ebron, Quinn had nothing but nice things to say about the former Lion.
“I’m glad for Eric Ebron. He’s a great person. He’s had a good year in Indy. I’m happy for him. It didn’t work out here.”
But Quinn made it clear tight end remains a high priority. “We’re looking forward to improving that position next offseason.”
6. Hiring the next offensive coordinator is up to Matt Patricia
It took a while, but the conversation finally turned to Detroit’s crucial offensive coordinator search now that the team has decided to move on from Jim Bob Cooter. Somewhat surprisingly, Quinn passed the buck to Matt Patricia, saying he’ll be in charge of the next hire.
“This is primarily Matt (Patricia) making the hire,” Quinn said. “I will help him with some research on candidates that I may have some background in or might have worked with or just been associated with in my time in the league. So we’ll have those conversations, and Matt will hire the offensive coordinator.”
As for what the Lions are looking for in their next coach, the buzz words seemed to be “diverse” and “adaptable.”
“We need to do a better job of going into each week, looking at the opponent, and say, ‘How are we going to beat this team?’”
Quinn stressed the need for an offensive mind that is able to adapt to the defense’s weaknesses and account for any unexpected changes in the roster, using the example of Week 17 when the Lions were on their fourth or fifth string of receivers, and they were able to put up one of their best offensive performances of the year.
“I think that’s what offensive coordinators, coaches, defensive coordinators, in general, have to do. They have to adapt,” Quinn said. “Your playbook might look like one thing on Week 1, your roster might look like one thing on Week 1. Week 7, Week 9, it could look totally different. So I think that’s what we’re looking for.”