Pat Caputo: Bob Quinn Study In Contradiction As Lions GM

It is more accurate to suggest Quinn is the NFL’s most confusing GM.

Pat Caputo
July 28, 2020 - 5:13 pm
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It is difficult to label Bob Quinn’s stint as Lions’ general manager a success.

The Lions’ collective record is below .500 (27-36-1). The Lions have made the playoffs once - his first season mostly with the previous regime’s players. The talent level of the Lions’ roster entering Quinn’s fifth year is arguably less than what he inherited.

But the worst GM in the NFL? When NBC Rotoworld ranked Quinn at the bottom last week, it raised eyebrows locally and generated discussion.

It was also a reach. There are many poorly run organizations and underwhelming GMs in the NFL. 

It is more accurate to suggest Quinn is the NFL’s most confusing GM.

Quinn has been a perpetual contradiction since Day 1 when he essentially cleaned house except leaving the most important position, head coach Jim Caldwell, in place. 

As a result, the Lions have never been in a position where they are either in a total rebuilding mode or making an all-out effort to win a Super Bowl.

Instead, they’ve been hopelessly caught in the middle, which is the NFL’s version of purgatory.

If the Lions were attempting to make deep playoff runs, they wouldn’t have made trade deadline deals unloading veterans Golden Tate and Quande Diggs, the latter after signing him to a hefty contract extension.

If they were rebuilding, Quinn wouldn’t have traded for Damon Harrison and then signed him for another season.

The Lions have completely revamped their offensive line. Yet, look at the players Quinn has unloaded. Reilly Reiff solidified left tackle for the Vikings, guard Larry Warford was selected for three Pro Bowls in New Orleans and Laken Tomlinson started at guard for the 49ers in the Super Bowl.

Quinn has used two of his five first-round draft picks on the offensive line, Taylor Decker and Frank Ragnow.

Rebuilding.

He signed high-priced veteran free agents T.J. Lang and Rick Wagner.

Going for it all.

Back-to-back 9-7 seasons wasn’t good enough with Caldwell as head coach. However, 9-22-1 with Matt Patricia is somehow staying on the right course.

Contradiction.

This between-a-rock-and-hard-place thought process has been endorsed by the ownership of the Fords. They have presented the mixed message that contending for the playoffs is the standard in 2020. It could mean 7-9, and/or merely a meaningful game in December.

Not everything Quinn has done has been a disaster. We’ll have to see how this year’s draft, which is promising with Jeff Okudah and DeAndre Swift at the top, shakes out. It’s too early to judge ’19 selections like T.J. Hockenson and Jahlani Tavai.

Perhaps Kenny Golladay, Quinn’s third-round draft pick in 2017, with Matthew Stafford back in stride, becomes the NFL’s next great receiver. Seems like he is on the brink of it.

Maybe the so-called “Patriots’ Way” takes hold of the Lions with so many ex-New England players on the roster.

But that’s not really a plan.

It would be welcome if Quinn presented the Lions with an identity first - and then implemented it.

As is, Quinn has been searching for the plan. It’s never been clear, and subsequently has blocked the Lions’ path moving forward, at least so far.