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How did the Detroit Lions get here?

Speed Kills, the Lack of it Kills GM/Coach Careers. Kaz takes a look at the sequence of events for the state of the Detroit Lions.

The Bob Quinn Era

Hunter S. Thompson, quoted the great Al Davis, “Speed Kills.” Things were a lot different for Lions fans in 2016, the cabinet wasn’t bare. The despised Martin Mayhew was gone, the last remnants of the Millen era, flushed. Bob Quinn came to town on his golden chariot, promising to build a team of character men, and build it from the inside out. In 2016, he notably drafted Taylor Decker, A’Shawn Robinson and Graham Glasgow to bolster this inside out approach. Also drafted were Dwayne Washington, Miles Killebrew and Anthony Zettel, these guys were athletes (and all still in the league past their rookie deals).  Patriots West was off to a promising start.

The stoic and likeable Jim Caldwell was able to piece together a 9-7 record for the Detroit Lions. Theo Riddick and Zach Zenner were their leading rushers. Newly acquired Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, the physical albeit aged Anquan Boldin and Eric Ebron all having over 55 catches. Kerry Hyder came from no where to inspire a decent defense with a young Mayhew-built secondary with Quandre Diggs, Nevin Lawson, Darius Slay and Glover Quinn. With a solid 2016, ending with a loss to Seattle in the playoffs, the Quinn era was off to a solid start.

Detroit Lions fans anticipated another great draft from the wunderkind Bob Quinn, and hope was high as ever. Matthew Stafford was 28 years old, showing signs of real efficient play. It felt as the Lions were a Running Back away from greatness, and that year’s RB crop was very strong. But 2017 draft wouldn’t follow the same formula of 2016. Quinn strayed from the strategy of drafting highly athletic prospects.

Who did The Detroit Lions draft?

We are only going to do this one time in this article. I PROMISE. At pick 21 in round 1, we took the highly athletic LB Jarrad Davis. Missing the opportunity to take the lauded and spotlessly profiled Dalvin Cook, and the Joe “Girl-Punch” Mixon. Then round 2, the round where former GM Martin Mayhew perennially made his bed and ended his career (e.g. Titus Young, Ameer Abdullah, Kyle Van Noy…).

Quinn was fated to repeat the same round 2 drafting mistakes of his elders. This is where he strayed from what made 2016 so solid, and took a defensive back that ran a 4.7 40 yard dash.. I’m not going to mention his name. He can’t help it he was taken in the 2nd round, and he should have been taken in the 6th with that lack of speed, or taken as projected by analysts as a SAFETY.

Here is where the wisdom of hindsight really starts to hurt: Kareem “Girl Kick” Hunt, Alvin Kamara, and Aaron Jones were all selected after our 2nd round pick. Look, this is 2020, the year of hindsight, but all of these guys were amazing prospects, and now they are Pro-Bowlers. With Alvin Kamara and Dalvin Cook arguably off to Hall of Fame starts to their careers, it haunts me.

The Jim Caldwell Era

Despite the compete failure of a draft, Jim “Steady-Eddy” Caldwell, led the Lions, again to a 9-7 record in 2017. That was not good enough, nor should have been for the Lions brass and fans. The writing was on the wall. Caldwell was a dead man walking. Sports radio and the press were abounding with callers and articles claiming that the coach was the problem. Sadly, the evidence was there, right in front of us: the problem was General Manager Bob Quinn.

GM’s that do not give their coaches what they need to do their jobs; despite whether it’s the coach they want coaching are doing the franchise a disservice. Bob Quinn violated the unspoken fan-team contract to address the needs of the team by not putting the right players, in the right places. Most notably at Running Back. The Detroit Lions Running Back position was led by Ameer Abdullah’s paltry 552 yards rushing and thusly teams teed off on Stafford with 47 sacks.

Jim Caldwell was a good coach. He still contributed to Matthew Stafford’s most glaring stat of never winning a playoff game in a now 12-year career. But, the last time a coach with 2 consecutive winning seasons, was fired “Marty Schottenheimer, it didn’t work out too well.

Firing a winning coach send the wrong message to the players in the locker room, and the fans. It didn’t work out too well here either, but it didn’t have to be that way. Bob Quinn had already sealed his fate. Patriots West the Lions would not be, because no one will ever be another Patriots. The Patriots rarely forego speed to draft a player they like, even their most famous early round misses were fast (Maroney, Jackson, Rivers…) Teams that win make their own winning formula. GMs and all their human counterparts are supposed to learn lessons from their previous employment experience. The draft is where good teams acquire talent for the coaches and Bob Quinn was about to do something really, really stupid.

What’s Next

Stay Tuned for Part 2, Hiring the Coordinator of a Bad Defense to be a Head Coach

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