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Lions Fire GM B.Quinn, HC M.Patricia

In a very terse statement, the Detroit Lions announced that they have fired general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia.

Quinn was hired in 2016 after the Lions went 7-9 in 2015. Quinn inherited head coach Jim Caldwell, who led the club to a 9-7 record in both 2016 and 2017, reaching the playoffs in the former season. Caldwell was then fired and replaced by Patricia, a former New England Patriots assistant under Bill Belichick. Patricia's Lions finished 6-10 in 2018 and 3-12-1 in 2019. This season, the Lions started off 3-3, but has since lost four out of five games to drop to 4-7. In their last two games, they lost 20-0 to the Carolina Panthers, who are now 4-7, and 41-25 to the Houston Texans, who are also 4-7, just two days ago on Thanksgiving.

UPDATE: Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will take over as interim head coach.

Comments

56 comments, Last at 01 Dec 2020, 4:43pm

1 The first fun question to…

The first fun question to ask is whether Matt Patricia or Josh McDaniels was a worse head coach?

 

The second question to ask is, should you ever hire a BB cordinator as a head coach? Yes I know there's Brian Flores who's doing pretty well, he seems to be the loan exception in a long and sorry list.

 

Edit - Should be Lone*

3 First question: Probably…

First question:

Probably Patricia.  McDaniels did chase away the team's highly-drafted franchise quarterback, but he does have a .500 season on his resume, which Patricia never even sniffed.  Also, at least McDaniels can claim he was a successful coordinator.

Second question:

Hard no for me.  Andy Reid tree all the way.  Track records speak for themselves.

9 Not according to this…

Not according to this article.

 

https://www.patspulpit.com/2015/10/22/9599362/josh-mcdaniels-apparently-bragged-about-his-accomplishments-before#:~:text=Unfortunately%20for%20Cutler%2C%20the%20Broncos,the%20article%20(emphasis%20added).

 

Its now been over 10 years, but I remember the fractured relationship started after McDaniels was hired. 

10 This is the first time I've…

This is the first time I've ever heard anyone claim Cutler wanted out prior to the McDaniels hire.  Every article I've read says Cutlers' rocky initial meeting with McDaniels was the impetus for asking for a trade:

https://www.espn.com/nfl/news/story?id=3983805

This article contains quotes for Cutler himself confirming this, and saying the rumors that he wanted out after OC Jeremy Bates was fired were false.

16 My thesis about Belichick…

My thesis about Belichick coordinators: Belichick's genius is in getting complete buy-in to his culture, combined with an obsessive attention to detail. However, neither of those qualities is especially valuable or important for a rookie coach taking over a bad team. A rookie coach won't have the credibility to immediately establish buy-in, which means that drastic moves like we saw from McDaniels, Mangini, BOB, and Patricia alienate players. And attention to detail is great, but only if you've established a solid system with result to the big things. Patricia, for instance, obsessed over some small things while missing the big picture, which becomes its own clown show.

That's in contrast to some coaching trees - like Andy Reid, Mike Shanahan, or even Sean McVay - which start with a scheme, rather than a culture. It's much easier for a rookie coach to show up to a bad team and implement his own X's and O's than show up and establish a culture. You need both a solid scheme and a solid culture in order to win, but I think it's easier for the scheme to come first.

18 Ooh, trying to see through…

Ooh, trying to see through recency bias, but gun to my head I think Patricia was probably worse. He certainly had less on-field success despite a somewhat longer tenure, although off the top of my head I think the Broncos had a better roster than these Lions, so it's close.

A related question: which was the bigger a-hole? McDaniels' odiousness got more press, but Patricia did such stupidly petty things, like chastising reporters for bad posture, that I think he might take the cake (there's also that sexual assault allegation...).

It's always been weird to me how, almost to a man, the lesson Belichick's subordinates took away wasn't "understand the game inside and out, understand the strengths and weaknesses of everyone on your team and figure out how they best fit together, and always be extremely diligent in everything you do," but rather, just "be an arrogant prick." I guess that's easier.

So, would I hire from the Belichick tree? Objectively I guess you have to at least consider qualified candidates from anywhere, but I'd do some pretty damn thorough vetting of his personality first and foremost. Make sure he understands the difference between effective discipline and petty malarkey. Then and only then would I start digging into his organizational, Xes and Os, and leader-of-men qualities. And the thing is, the guy most qualified by my standards here was probably Romeo Crennel, who's been pretty unsuccessful, so... jury's still out on Flores (although early indications are promising), so that might change things I guess, but there's ample reason to give that whole tree a miss.

19 "loan exception"

Well, if you just choose to ignore Nick Saban.  

It's an easy theory based on three or four data points that really doesn't stand up to scrutiny.  

Crennel is a fine DC who isn't a good HC.

Patricia was a bad DC who inexplicably got an HC position.

Mangini was a good DC in over his head as HC who now can't find a job b/c he's a jerk.

Flores looks like he'll be fine.

Saban has been the most successful college coach this century.  

McD is an excellent OC who was given way too much power by Denver. He might cut it as HC but GM?  Why??

And yeah, his former assistants who have tried to coach against him in the AFC East?  Bad idea.
 

 

20 I am not sure if you are…

I am not sure if you are agreeing or disagreeing with my statement. But I'll add some futher commentary.

Nick Saban is a terrific college football coach, but we don't really know what he is as at the NFL level. His stint in Miami was a big shrug.

I agree with the rest of your points, except for the certainty in McD being an excellent OC. What evidence is there to justify this statement besides his time in NE? He certainly didn't decorate himself in glory as an OC with the rams. And the offense was just fine in his absence with BOB. Are we really sure if he went to the Lions it would amount to much?

46 Oh please.  The Pats offense…

Oh please.  The Pats offense is one of the only units I have ever seen that seems to reinvent itself on a weekly basis in order to attack the defense's weaknesses.  The offense is also customized to accommodate each QB's strengths.  Whether it's Brady, Cassel, Jimmy G, or Cam, they're still able to execute and be productive.  That's good coaching plain and simple.  And somehow, people forget that he constructed a top 5 offense helmed by Orton in Denver.   

48 That malleability seems to…

That malleability seems to be a reflection of BB, not McDaniels. And no, he did not construct a top 5 DVOA in Denver with Orton. In 2009 they had the 16th ranked pass offense. In 2010 it was #10, but he wasn't even the coach for all of that season.

Finally, guess who currently was the offensive coordinator of the highest scoring offense in NFL history? Why yes, that would be Adam Gase! I guess hes an offensive genius too. 

54 Sorry, you can't have it…

Sorry, you can't have it both ways.  You can't assume that football coaches work 100 hours per week and then assume that BB is responsible for everything related to offense, defense, and special teams.  There literally aren't enough hours in the day for anyone to do that.  BB has help...just like Nick Saban's Alabama offense got better after he hired Kiffin.

How many decent offenses were led by Orton before and after his time with McD in Denver?  It was pretty obvious that they were running the Peyton Manning offense in Denver when he was lighting it up.

 

 

28 Little Nickie Saban fled the…

Little Nickie Saban fled the NFL when he saw how much work it would take to build a winning team.

On the other hand, Pete Carroll has now built winning programs in both Div I and the NFL. How many other coaches have that distinction?

29 Arians and Caldwell have the…

Arians and Caldwell have the weird distinction of having built solid pro teams, but not college programs.

Bobby Ross went to title games at both levels. Jimmy Johnson. Switzer, I suppose, although he rode Johnson's wave.

49 Dick Vermeil far exceeded…

Dick Vermeil far exceeded expectations with UCLA. Then went to Philadelphia and got them to a Superbowl before flaming out. Then he won it with the Rams. Then he turned around a KC franchise, which always outperformed their records by DVOA. 

4 Since this move telegraphed…

Since this move telegraphed months ago, I've been thinking about how good the lions job is. I think the Lions are a lot better than what their record suggests but they are also in a weird spot where I could see a rebuild make as much sense as going the other way.

I wonder if Lions fans are tired of Matthew Stafford. They never topped out as anything more than plucky wild card fodder with him at QB. On the other hand when you see Ryan tannehill doing so well, you remember that properly supported second tier QBs can be very valuable and you can almost assuredly do a lot worse than Stafford. Probably would go the route of trying to build a contender out of this roster, I can also understand the sentiment of going the other way and tearing it further down.

7 The offense can be good with…

The offense can be good with a creative play-caller and stability at RG and RT, but the defense as currently constructed is a complete disaster that needs to be torn down.  They have maybe 2-3 good players, 4 ex-Patriots that won't fit into the next coach's system, and the rest are complete liabilities when they're on the field (maybe they'll improve with better coaching).

As for Stafford...of course I would like un upgrade, but who?  Draft position probably won't be good enough to get a rookie that's likely to work out (unless they lose out and the Jaguars go on a run).  They're more likely to replace him with someone worse than with someone better.

12 What parts of the Lions…

What parts of the Lions function, function because Stafford makes them go.

If you've got a HOFer just laying around, I'd take him, but you don't have one just laying around.

\even Drew Brees has a bunch of 7-9 seasons dragged down by his defense.

15 Stafford has had one season…

Stafford has had one season with Calvin Johnson that approximated anything close to a typical Drew Brees season. 

 

Even as the saints were imploding their way to 7-9, it was clear that the blame was entirely on the defense. I dont think you can pin all of blame onto the defense in this case.

 

Look admittedly Stafford is a problematic player to assess. He could go on to a better situation and be a top five quarterback. He can also turn out to be Kirk cousins or Jimmy garoppolo, a pretty good player. We just don't know, but I admit to I leaning on the side of him being more like Cousins than Russell Wilson

24 Drew Brees wasn’t just Drew…

Drew Brees wasn’t just Drew Brees. Drew Brees was the Payton offense, it’s roster of receivers, and an all-pro interior line.

Stafford had Megatron for awhile, but he never had the OC, the depth, or the line.

17 Stafford isn't a perfect QB,…

Stafford isn't a perfect QB, but he's definitely good enough to win with. He's also the only good QB the Lions have had in the last 60 years. I don't think they could get enough back for him in trade for a trade to make sense.

40 Danielson and Hipple were…

Danielson and Hipple were low-end starters whose main function was to hand off to Billy Sims and then stay out of the way. 

Mitchell's 1995 season belongs in the all-time flukey season hall of fame, along with 1983 Lynn Dickey, 1999 Steve Buerlein, and 2007 Derek Anderson.   Otherwise he was mediocre to bad despite having excellent offensive teammates.

21 I don't know about Lions…

I don't know about Lions fans, but I get the impression that Stafford's tired of the Lions. His contract might be hard to move, but with a new GM coming in (who'll probably want "his guy," as all GMs seem to) and the fact that he's probably closer to the end of his career than the start, they've got reason enough to try to make it work. And I'd guess that this offseason, between Indy, New Orleans, and Tampa Bay, at least one and possibly all three will have a QB-sized hole in their roster with a QB-sized chunk of cap room to add one. What they could offer in trade besides draft picks I'm not sure, but if the new GM has permission to rebuild, draft picks might be all they want anyway.

23 Much like the Texans job...

I think the situation is appealing, but wholly dependent on who ends up as the GM (so, appealing as a GM, wary as a HC).

Being a Bears fan, I've watched the Lions from the outside for some time, and they just never seem to get their act together. Individual moves make sense and are good, but never add up to a cohesive whole. Hopefully the change in ownership will bring changes up top that will lead to competent management. I don't buy into the whole "the NFL is better when marquee teams (read: Cowboys) are good" but I sure do think it's worse when teams are no better than mediocre for decades. Let's get the Lions to relevance, already.

FWIW, I think Stafford is slightly better than average but I'm not sure he's gonna be a difference maker in the future in Detroit. I think a trade, however painful, probably makes the most sense. And there are some teams that it would make sense for, too--if I were Pittsburgh I would JUMP at the chance to get Stafford...

5 "In a very terse statement, …

"In a very terse statement, "

You got that right.  No "we thank them for their service", no "the team has decided to go in a different direction".

Sheila Ford Hamp was probably pretty pissed (with good reason) after the Thanksgiving debacle:

https://twitter.com/mulho2mj/status/1332058937777065987/photo/1

 

14 The firings aren't…

EDIT: Nevermind, forgot about Mariucci being fired in 2005! Although that might have been Matt Millen trying to deflect some blame.

Original, dumb comment on the timing of Patricia's firing:

The firings aren't surprising, obviously, but the timing is a little bit: this is, I believe, the first time the Lions have formally fired a coach mid-season since Darryl Rogers in 1988 (Bobby Ross resigned, admittedly possibly in a "quit or I'll fire you situtation"). Patricia's been bad but not Mornhinweg or Marinelli bad, and they got to see things out through December.

In general I'm not a fan of mid-season coach firings unless it's for certain specific reasons, namely: (1) team could realistically make the playoffs with better coaching through the remainder of the season; (2) team can give an extended trial to your favored replacement candidate to see if they're really "the one"; (3) coach perpetrates some gross misconduct; (4) player mutiny is incipient (like the Texans earlier this year). I'm not sure any of these apply unless they really think Bevell might be the guy (or perhaps if (4) were brewing behind the scenes). And if they do, that would put the next GM in an awkward position, if not an especially unusual one.

Quinn wasn't a bad evaluator of player talent, although this is arguably the worst roster in the division (a pretty strong one, to be fair), and there's a chasm between "solid roster" and "Super Bowl contender" that coaching alone can't bridge. And he was, it seems, a pretty frickin' terrible evaluator of coaching talent, so if Patricia had to go (and he did), Quinn had to as well. Still, he's at that awkward level where it'd be harder to improve on him than to regress. He's like the Matthew Stafford of GMs.

37 Quinn was a mediocre at…

Quinn was a mediocre GM, at best.

He deserves credit for finding Kenny Golloday in the third round, and perhaps Travis Fulgham in the 6th round (if you want to be generous and not blame him for the coaching staff deciding not to keep him).  Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow, and TJ Hockenson were solid 1st round picks (jury is still out on Jeff Okudah, but you would hope for more so far from the 3rd overall pick). 

Other than than, it's been mostly bad.  He spent a 1st rounder on Jarrad Davis and 2nd rounders on Teez Tabor (who washed out of the league), and Jahlani Tavai (who will soon follow Tabor).  He spends waaay too much draft capital on running backs.  And the cherry on top was using a 6th rounder on a freakin' long-snapper who didn't even make the team!

Free agency has also been mostly bad.  Marvin Jones was a smart signing who's far outproduced his contract, but everyone else has been a big thud.

32 Three years too late, but it…

Three years too late, but it's says something about the new ownership, at least. It'll be interesting to see how the team responds to Bevell, although the defense might be beyond hope at this point. Bevell at least deserves some respect despite what happened in that Super Bowl.

More to the point: who will be the next GM? Is there an Ozzie Newsome "manager tree" that yields good GMs?

34 Over on the Seahawks blog…

Over on the Seahawks blog here are three comments from some of their folks:

* Wonder how long it will be before we see hashtag FireBevell again?

  * Are we talking in days, hours, or minutes  

    * I was thinking the over/under is the first play.

 

38 Bevell in 2019 seemed pretty…

Bevell in 2019 seemed pretty good.  Aggressive with lots of playaction and deep passes.  Stafford was top 5 in DVOA, and was on pace for the same in DYAR until he got hurt. 

This year, however, has been a different story.  The typical Lions drive is: unsuccessful Adrian Peterson run, unsuccessful Adrian Peterson run, and hope Stafford bails you out on 3rd and long.

41 I've definitely been…

I've definitely been confused by Detroit's offensive approach this year. With a stable of dynamic receivers (though Golladay has been hurt), a top-10 draft pick TE in his second season, and even a rookie RB with some receiving skills... they went out of their way to sign the husk of Adrian Peterson off the street on the eve of the season and made him their featured RB.

It's like they either aren't running the offense they spent the entire offseason and training camp planning to run, or they waited until the last second to decide they didn't like their personnel and the answer was to bring in a street free agent and give him plenty of touches. Looks like Peterson has been phased out a little bit this past month before his 15 carries on Thursday, but still. Whatever the story, no surprise the coaching staff and front office are replaced around Thanksgiving. (Well, Bevell is obviously still there - we'll see if he has any other ideas in the last month of the season.)

 

35 Bevell still needs to hear…

Bevell still needs to hear about the Super Bowl? For the love of god, Seattle ran that same play numerous times before that game and has run it often after that game.  It often worked too.  Would you be blaming him if Lynch fumbled on the goal line?  Why people refuse to understand that Butler just made a great play I'll never understand.

In any case, it seems like top tier GM candidates (the people everyone knows to be studs) just don't move very frequently.  For example, DeCosta waited patiently for his turn in Baltimore after Ozzie retired, Roseman didn't leave Philly after he lost the power struggle with Kelly, and Ballard probably wouldn't have gone to Indy without Luck's presence.  My sense is that these guys understand the value of culture and would rather not take the risk of blowing up in a new place that doesn't have the same infrastructure and/or ownership buy in.  Because if you blow up in a new place, you might never get the chance to run a team again.  From the outside looking in, however, it just doesn't make sense why teams like Detroit and Chicago with great fan bases and stable ownership that gives people a long leash and doesn't hesitate to invest in the team just can't seem to make it work. 

42 Teams also hang on to their…

Teams also hang on to their potential GMs really hard.  The Eagles kept refusing to let Joe Douglas interview for jobs on other teams.  The Texans tried to interview him while the Eagles were in the playoffs one year, and the Eagles were able to refuse simply because they were in the playoffs (which is a ridiculous rule).  I'm not sure what happened afterward, since the Texans never hired a GM and still don't have one (I'm sorry, Easterby does not count).

43 My dream new GM would be…

My dream new GM would be someone from the Ravens or Steelers, who have established a decades-long track record of scouting/drafting well, but I have a feeling they would be loathe to let anyone who significantly contributed to that success go elsewhere.

45 That's kind of my point. …

That's kind of my point.  Like do the Eagles, Ravens, etc. pay GM level salaries to 3-4 people simultaneously or is it purely driven by the NFL's rules regarding eligibility for GM candidates?  I doubt it can be the former, given that a good GM who's in charge of a $100MM+ player payroll is surely worth up to $10MM per year.  If it's the latter, then the rules have to change, as I believe that the NFL is better off when more of its teams are well run.

53 Stable ownership is not an…

Stable ownership is not an asset when stable = loyal to high-level personnel who have long since proven their ineptitude at the job. Speaking as a Bears fan, they've had a glorified accountant (Ted Phillips) running football operations for 22 seasons now. In those 22 seasons, they've made the playoffs 5 times, advanced to 2 NFC Championship games, played in 1 SB, and won 0 championships.

Phillips has hired 3 GMs, the most recent of which is Ryan Pace, who is almost certainly going to finish out his 6th season and IMHO has a decent chance of keeping his job for a 7th, mainly because he's got 2 more years left on his contract and the McCaskeys don't like to pay people not to work. Pace's record is 39-52 after last night's embarrassment and the Bears are going to miss the playoffs for the 5th time in his 6 years.

I get that you don't want to be a dysfunctional organization where the owner meddles in everything and churns through front offices and coaching staffs every couple years, but too much of the opposite is just as bad. I'm not familiar with the inner workings of the Lions, but given that they've had a similar family ownership situation I wonder if it might be the same. I know complaining about ownership is the least satisfying part of sports fandom because they can't be fired, but I really don't see a reason to think that a team that has been embarrassing for decades is going to stop being embarrassing while the same family runs it.

56 The Fords have been…

The Fords have been notorious for not getting rid of bad coaches and GMs soon enough. I believe this year is the first time ever thst both the HC and GM were fired mid-season. The only other HC to be fired mid-season was Mariucci in 2005. Before that, Bobby Ross was the last one to leave during the season, deciding to quit despite having a winning record at the time. That was weird.