Five Biggest Takeaways From Bob Quinn's Season-Ending Press Conference

The general manager didn't leave the podium until all questions had been answered.

Will Burchfield
January 04, 2019 - 2:36 pm

© Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Categories: 

Lions general manager Bob Quinn addressed the media on Friday for the first time since the 2018 draft. He spoke for about 40 minutes on a variety of topics, making sure to answer any and all questions before he left the podium. 

Here are the five biggest takeaways from a comprehensive press conference.

1. Stafford's Here to Stay 

As expected, Matthew Stafford was topic No. 1 on Friday. Namely, would the Lions entertain trading their franchise quarterback, to whom they gave a five-year, $135 million extension in 2017? With Stafford coming off a down season, it's a question that's recently bubbled back to the surface. But Quinn made it clear -- Stafford's not going anywhere. It's up to the organization to put better players around him. 

“Matthew Stafford is our quarterback. He will be our quarterback here," Quinn said. "Listen, this guy is a really talented player. Myself, the coaches need to put him in better situations to allow him to use his skillset. Matt’s extremely tough, he’s extremely diligent in his work ethic. He sets a great example for all of our players, and really all of our staff, of how to go about his job. ... We need to do a better job of putting better players around him and scheming up things better to use his talent.”

2. Tate, Snacks No-Brainer Moves

It was a busy and somewhat confusing week for the Lions in advance of the trade deadline. First they traded for Damon Harrison in what looked like a win-now move. Then, following a loss to the Seahawks, they traded away Golden Tate in a clear move for the future. According to Quinn, both moves -- though conflicting in nature -- were too good to pass up. 

In Harrison the Lions got an anchor on their defensive line, who's signed through the next two seasons, for the price of a fifth-round pick. Quinn said the Giants, in the midst of a scheme change on defense, were essentially selling low on Harrison, so the Lions swooped in. 

"When you’re evaluating trades, you have to really look at the scheme of the other team. Because if you look at it, the Giants were kind of going through a little bit of a scheme change from last year to this year. Damon Harrison, in my opinion, can play in any scheme. That’s my opinion. I don’t think the Giants probably saw it that way, so they were willing to move him. That trade actually happened very quick. That was, like, a matter of hours from the first call to when it got finished. I think that did solidify the run defense, obviously," Quinn said. 

As for Tate, teams were calling the Lions as early as training camp. But the offers at the time, Quinn said, were "really insulting." It wasn't until the Eagles offered a third-round pick on the day of the trade deadline that Quinn pulled the trigger, knowing the Lions were unlikely to re-sign Tate in free agency. 

"Really nothing happened until really the morning of the trade deadline. Philadelphia called and their offer at 8:00 in the morning changed by 9:30 in the morning and I think we consummated the trade at 10:30 in the morning. It’s one of those things where it was just an offer that we really couldn’t refuse for what the value was and for what we had left with the player, which was eight games. And we felt we had a balanced offense at that time, so that’s why we made it," Quinn said. 

He added that the loss to the Seahawks in Week 8 that dropped Detroit's record to 3-4 had little bearing on his decision to trade Tate a couple days later. 

"I had to take that kind of out of the equation," Quinn said. "I just have to do what’s best for the team at that point, keeping the short-term obviously in focus but have the long-term (focus) looking ahead and see what we need for the future.”

3. Gronk One of Several Tight Ends Lions Tried to Land

Few positions on the team, if any, delivered less production this season than tight end. It stemmed from the Lions' decision last March to cut Eric Ebron, believing they could find his replacement via free agency or trade. It was a miscalculation that left them with a major hole on offense all season long. Quinn went down numerous avenues in an attempt to fill it -- including talking to the Patriots about Rob Gronkowski -- but nothing significant came to pass. Expect the Lions to move quickly on this in the offseason. 

"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 and 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 was 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 that you’re going to get somebody unless you have somebody here. We had Eric, and listen, I’m glad for Eric Ebron. He’s a great person, he had a good year in Indianapolis. I’m happy for him. It didn’t work out here, and we’re looking forward to improving that position next season.”

4. Patrica to Handle Search for O-Coordinator, Stafford Won't Have Heavy Input

The biggest item on Quinn's offseason agenda at the moment is hiring a new offensive coordinator -- except Quinn won't be the one making the decision. That will fall to Matt Patricia. As for Stafford, whose endorsement of Jim Bob Cooter around this time last year was seemingly a major reason why the Lions retained their former OC, Quinn said his input will be minimal. 

“Matt will hire the offensive coordinator," Quinn said. "We’re looking for someone that improves the offense. We want a balanced attack. We want to be able to run the ball, we want to be able to use our quarterback because he has a ton of talent. We want to be diverse. ...

"We need to do a better job of going into each week, looking at the opponent and saying, ‘How are we going to beat this team?’ If they have a great run defense and a poor pass defense, maybe we throw it 45 times and vice versa. We want someone that thinks that way, that thinks, ‘Hey, I have an offense, but my offense is adaptable. I can change week-to-week, or I can change from this week when I have this set of receivers and two weeks later I don’t.’" 

Asked if Stafford will be involved in the search, Quinn said, "I don’t think so. Matt’s going to hire this guy. Matthew Stafford is very opinionated on a lot of things in terms of players, coaches. Maybe Matt will reach out to him and ask him, ‘Hey, call your friend at this team and ask about him (this guy).’ I’m not sure, we haven’t gone that far yet.” 

The Lions fell from seventh in the league in points per game to 25th from last season to this one, with Stafford's poor season being a major reason why. 

5. Team Toughness Continues to Improve -- But Roster Still Lacks Playmakers

The last time Quinn addressed the media, he lamented the Lions' lack of toughness. Several months later he's pleased with the progress they've made in that department. It was the first thing he pointed to when asked where his team has improved since he took over as GM in 2016. 

“I think we’re a more physical team," said Quinn. "I think we have a much better and sound fundamentally defense, especially run defense. I think we play a physical brand of football. I didn’t think that was the case my first year or two. I think this year we drastically improved that. That goes with some of the guys that we acquired in the front seven from Jarrad Davis to Damon Harrison to Da’Shawn Hand to Romeo Okwara. Those guys really set a tone in the front seven to play physical on defense.

"I think the same thing can be said for the offensive line and the running game. I know that part’s better. I think other things definitely need to improve. We’re going to work on that this year, and just add as many playmakers as we can to this team.”

The lack of playmakers is something Quinn has talked about for a couple years. The Lions have plenty of solid players, but few elite ones. On defense, there's Harrison, Darius Slay, and, well, the list probably ends there. On offense, it depends how you feel about Stafford and the young likes of Kenny Golladay and Kerryon Johnson. In Quinn's three years at the helm, the Lions have had just one AP All-Pro, excluding special teamers. 

"I think big picture, we need more playmakers," Quinn said. "We need guys to make big plays. To get into specifics, I’m not ready to do that today, but we’ll have plenty of time to talk about that pre-draft, pre-free agency and all of that.”