Lions' GM Bob Quinn to meet with the media
What questions should be asked?
DETROIT – The Lions' season ended Saturday with a resounding yet quiet thud in Seattle. After winning nine of their first 13 games, four straight losses closed out the 2016 campaign. It was a roller-coaster season, with only one peak, and that peak was a no-doubt-about-it win in New Orleans, which was part of a five game winning streak. But that was just before the bottom fell out of what appeared to be a promising season.
So, now, in the aftermath, it's time to figure out how the Lions get better. But that's not up to us. That responsibility falls on second-year general manager, Bob Quinn. When he left the Patriots' front office to oversee the Lions, he must have known that it wouldn't be easy. Now, by many accounts, a playoff season equals success in Detroit. But understanding that the franchise had qualified for the postseason only 12 times in the last 59 years, and won only one of those 12, well, he had to know. Conversely, the team that he left, the New England Patriots, made 12 of the last 13 postseason, winning three Super Bowls. It's a bit of a difference. So yeah, he knew.
Quinn also knew that he had a coach in place whom the players loved: Jim Caldwell. Caldwell has had marginal success as a head coach in the NFL. He led the 2009 Colts to the super Bowl, but I think most would argue that Peyton Manning was responsible for that. The next season in Indianapolis, Caldwell's team won four fewer games than the previous season. In 2011, sans Manning, the bottom completely fell out and Indy went 2-11. His time here in the Motor City has yielded mediocre returns with little fanfare. There have been playoff appearances, multiple (mild-mannered) spats with the media and little to no information given. Caldwell has done anything but ingratiate himself to Detroit. But again, the players like him. He offers a calm, reverent tone for the organization. The real question is, can he bring this team to the next level? A level unknown to most Lions fans? Quinn must think so. The team announced last week that Caldwell would coach the Lions in 2017.
The team has its coach, at least for the near term. It has its quarterback, again, for at least the near term. It also has some depth, much of which was provided by Quinn's moves in the draft and free agency. That said, back to the BIG question: Where do the Lions go from here?
Three questions Quinn must answer
Quinn will address the media at 3 p.m. Thursday
1. The Lions are fresh off a 9-7 season. What would that record have looked like if they didn't have Matthew Stafford? Not good, I think. Stafford has one year left on his contract. Quinn needs to clearly outline the organization's stance on his future and possible negotiations moving forward. Without Stafford, I'm not sure how you sell this team to free agent targets.
2. Who will run the ball moving forward? The Lions finished 30th in the league in rushing. Starter Ameer Abdullah suffered a foot injury in week 2 and never saw the field again. He's provided glimpses of something special, but has not been able to sustain success in his short stint with the Lions. Can he be the featured back moving forward?
Theo Riddick is a dynamic playmaker whose pass-catching abilities out of the backfield are maybe the best in the league, but he never showed the ability to fill the roll of an every-down back.
Zach Zenner and Dwayne Washington also made plays, more Zenner than Washington. But again, neither looked like "the guy." Do the Lions look to the draft for a "stud back" or free agency? Are they content with what they have?
3. Should he have brought Caldwell back? After losing the four biggest games of the season - the final four - the Lions fell apart, most notably in the playoff game in Seattle. Veterans made stupid mistakes and the team lost its collective composure.
While standing stoically on the sidelines, Caldwell saw the team's demise coming. Many point to Stafford's right middle finger as the major reason why the Lions struggled down the stretch. Others wonder if Caldwell is able to adjust during trying times. And while "others" wonder, it's pretty clear that Quinn must know.
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