By Ashley Scoby
The NFL has always been a copycat league. But cutting and pasting front office philosophies from franchise to franchise won't fly, said new Lions general manager Bob Quinn.
The differences between Quinn's past and present are vast and obvious. The Patriots have won four Super Bowls since 2000. The Lions have won one postseason game since 1957. New England is a championship contender year in and year out, while Detroit hangs banners at Ford Field for mere playoff appearances.
So it will be a delicate balance for Quinn, between bringing to Detroit what he's learned in 16 years in New England, and creating his own game plan for a unique organization.
"I'm not going to try to come in here and cut and paste everything we did with the Patriots," Quinn said Monday at his first press conference since being hired as Lions general manager. "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."
Whether keeping or firing head coach Jim Caldwell is in the best interest of the Lions remains to be seen. Quinn planned to meet with Caldwell – probably not Monday, he said – to discuss his future.
Quinn will use his time in New England as a blueprint for what he wants out of a head coach. He said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was the best coach in the history of the NFL. Working under him – as well as all the coordinators who have flowed through the Patriots organization – has helped him understand what he would want out of a coach.
"I've kept a list of attributes of a head coach over my time in New England," Quinn said. "Not just Coach 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."
Quinn would not specify exactly what those qualities were.
The overall plan of attack for the Lions, according to Quinn, will include The Process, which is football coaches' and executives' favorite cliché to fall back on. But there is something to the blandness, too. The Patriots, and organizations like them, don't stray from the path very often, and consistency derives from that commitment.
Quinn plans on bringing that approach to the Lions.
"Things in New England when I started there 16 years ago didn't happen overnight," he said. "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."
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