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The following is from Lions Executive Vice President and General Manager Bob Quinn’s season-ending press conference on Monday, January 1, 2018.

“This morning I spoke to Coach Jim Caldwell, and informed him of the decision not to retain him as the head coach of the Lions. I feel like there was a need in change in the leadership of this team. And starting today, I’ll be leading that search to hire a new head coach for the Lions. Coach Caldwell is a good football coach, a good man, a good husband, father, grandfather. On behalf of the entire organization, I want to thank him personally and for his service over the past four years. Jim’s taught me a lot. Coming in as a first-time general manager, we spent a lot of time together the last two years and he helped me through that. So, I want to thank him for that. Jim has great work ethic. There’s not a day that’s gone by that his car wasn’t in the parking lot before mine, and he puts a lot of time and energy into this team. And where we are today is part of what Jim did, and I’m proud to say that I worked with him. At the end of the day, I want to take this team to the next level, and to me that’s winning championships, that’s winning playoff games and that’s winning the Super Bowl. Ultimately, I’m the person in charge of football operations here at the Lions, and ultimately the record that we’ve had the last two years is on me. So, last year we went 9-7 and lost a playoff game, and this year we went 9-7 and didn’t get the playoffs. So, that’s ultimately my record and I take full ownership of that. Really, the standards that I have and the Ford family has for this team are greater than that, and my goal is to go out and find the best head coach to bring us that championship. The search for the new head coach will be thorough and we will interview multiple candidates. I will not put a time table on the search, but we will update the media and the public as we finish up each individual interview over the next coming days and weeks. With that, I’ll open it up for questions.” – LIONS VP AND GM BOB QUINN


If there is anything in particular that has hindered the Lions in the past two years from reaching certain standards: “There’s not one thing. I just think that when you look at our record over the last couple years, since I’ve been here we didn’t beat the really good teams. Our record was above average. We’re 9-7 the last two years, but our record against the better teams in the League has not been that good.”

What experiences or advice he will lean on during the interview process: “Yeah, just my experiences working with different coaches over my career, seeing friends go through the process. I know a lot of coaches at different teams. I know people that have gone through searches at the executive level, my colleagues that I’ve worked with that are with other teams now. So, I have a lot of people I can lean on, a lot of people that I’ll talk to, a lot of research that still needs to be done. But ultimately we have a good plan, and we’re looking forward to following through on it.”

If he prefers an offensive or defensive-minded coach: “My preference is to hire the best coach to help us win a championship. And I think when you look at the head coaches that are hired in this league, they come in all shapes and sizes. And I’m going out to find the best coach.”

If he is looking for someone that has had head coaching experience: “It doesn’t matter, but if he’s been a head coach previously, that would probably help. But that’s not a pre-requisite.”

If the rest of the coaches on Caldwell’s staff are under contract or if they have been released: “One assistant coach has been released. Ron Prince, the offensive line coach has been released from his contract. Everyone else is under contract.”

The traits that he is looking for that make up a good head coach: “Leadership, situational football, willingness to adjust and adapt to scheme, to players, and really just someone that can lead this team with the players we have and the players that we will acquire, and put them in the best position to win. Being a head coach in the National Football League is not an easy job. So, they come in all shapes and sizes, offensive coordinators, defensive coordinators, special teams coaches. So, it’ll be something that’s going to spend a lot of time researching, that I’ve started to do this morning, and we’ll continue down that road.”

If he will give the next head coach full autonomy over his staff: “Yes.”

If he can confirm a report that he will interview Defensive Coordinator Teryl Austin for the head coaching position: “I’m not going to get into any candidate, in house or external at this time. But like I said at the beginning of the press conference, we will update you after every interview is complete. You guys will be notified pretty much immediately and that’s how we’re going to approach it.”

What the organization can sell to top head coaching candidates when there is competition: “Yeah, there’s always competition in these. I mean, every year you look at the hiring cycle, and there’s always multiple teams, four, five, six, last year there was a couple more. So, I think we have a lot to offer. I think we have great ownership. I think we have great resources. We have a tremendous fanbase. I mean, you saw the stadium yesterday. I mean, we had nothing to play for and that place was rocking. So, that’s something that head coaches want to know, what kind of fanbase you have. I think we have a really good, solid nucleus of players that can kind of be molded into what the new head coach wants his team to look like.”

If there is something that he saw this year with Caldwell that he did not see last year: “No, not really, just something that over the last two years just kind of thought that we needed change. And like I said at the beginning, just a change in leadership, a new voice.”

How much impact QB Matthew Stafford will have in the hiring process: “No players will be involved in the interview process.”

What he learned during his time at New England about Patriots Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia that could lead him to think he would be a good head coach: “I’m not getting into any specifics about any rumor to be candidates. The only thing we’re going to comment on is when we finish up each interview. And then when we hire someone, we can talk about whoever we hire.”

If the coaching search is similar to the pro personnel process in regards to keeping tabs about coaches to have research already on them: “Yeah, I think part of my General Manager duties are to make sure that I have in my back pocket guys that I think would be head coaching candidates. So, I mean I had that before I even got this job two years ago. So, that’s something that you talk to any football guy, and anybody that’s an aspiring GM or a current GM, they have a short list of guys.”

How much the list has evolved since he has been here: “Oh, it definitely evolves. Yeah, you update it every year. You study the League. You look at the successful teams. You look at innovative guys with scheme, guys that get the most out of their players and you kind of constantly update that.”

How much previous familiarity with candidates impacts this process: “It could factor in for sure, it could. But that’s why the interview process is what it is. You spend time with people you may not know, and you get to know them, and maybe they change your opinion on them one way or the other. But it’s a factor.”

If he will consider college coaches in the hiring process: “Sure, yes.”

Why he thinks the offensive line has not performed to the team’s expectations: “Yeah, I think it was a lot of different factors. I’m not going to get into each and every one of them right now because we’re still in the evaluation process of the season. Once the new staff is in place, we’ll go through thoroughly like we do every year. But you’re right. I think we had 10 different offensive line starting combinations, which is a lot. So, I think it’s a credit to the players that they battled through. They played multiple positions and a lot of guys played when they were hurt. I mean, you guys look at the injury report every week. You guys study that stuff. And you see what guys are on there, and what guys are missing practice, and what guys are going out there and playing on Sunday. So, I think it’s a credit to our offensive line, the players, that they went out there and battled as well as they did.”

How he evaluates TE Eric Ebron’s performance this season: “Eric had a good year. I think Eric really, the last seven, eight weeks of the season really kind of turned it on. When you look at his play time over the course of the season, it actually went down over the course of the season, but his production went up. So, I think he was really used effectively. He gained some confidence over the course of the season and he performed better.”

If he plans on bringing Ebron back in 2018: “Yeah, he’s under contract with a tender.”

How much more prepared he feels about the head coaching search after having two years of general manager experience: “That’s a good question. I think, obviously I feel a little bit more comfortable just because I’ve been in this seat for two years. Coming into it that first year, I thought the best decision for this football team was to keep Jim. And this year I felt the best decision for the team was to move on. So, I feel like I got a better grasp of things on my end, so I’ll make a good decision.”

If he overestimated the running back position coming into this season: “No. I think our running backs, you know, they didn’t perform as good as everyone thought. I think that’s the facts. But I think we have guys in that room that are tough guys, they’re smart guys, they have skill. Will we add someone probably to that room? Absolutely. But that’s how the NFL really rolls. Every year there’s about 30 percent turnover on teams, so you’re never going to have the same team year-to-year.”

If DE Ezekiel Ansah’s contract discussions will be one of the most critical decisions he will make this offseason: “I think there’s a lot of critical decisions. I think that’s probably one of them. But that’s something that once the new staff is in place, the new head coach, the scheme, all that’s figured out, that’s going to be factored in to what we do with Ziggy.”

If he regrets not drafting Saints RB Alvin Kamara: “No.”

What the team’s biggest strengths and weaknesses are right now: “Strengths and weaknesses, I think strengths wise we have a lot of good skill players on offense. We have a really good quarterback. I think we have good personnel on the offensive line. I think on defense we need to add some pieces and I think our coaches here did a good job this year piecing it together. The personnel wasn’t perfect, and that’s why I said at the beginning the record’s on me and this is my record. This is 9-7. This is my team.  So, I think I need to do a better job on that side of the ball and there’s some guys that are under contract that’ll be coming back, so hopefully those guys develop. I think that’s the key thing too, is younger players in their second and third year have to show improvement. So, you can’t be stagnant. You got to keep moving forward and I think player development’s a big thing for us.”

When the decision to fire Caldwell was finalized: “Probably late last night.”

The role ownership had in the decision to fire Caldwell and if they will be involved in the hiring process moving forward: “The decision on Coach Caldwell was mine and mine alone. Going forward with the search, the search process—The interview process will be myself and Rod (Wood). And we will consult with the owners on a daily basis, but they will not be involved in the actual interviews.”

How involved Owner and Chairman Martha Firestone Ford is on a day-to-day basis with his job: “Very involved. I meet with Mrs. Ford multiple times per week.”

How much the scheme QB Matthew Stafford will play in affects identifying the new head coach: “That’s part of it. But I think Matthew’s a good enough quarterback that he can kind of play in any system. I mean, you guys have seen him play, he can make all the throws. So, I don’t think it’s a big detriment of what scheme the new coach may or may not run.”

His thoughts of the run game this season: “I think it was a disappointment to everybody. I mean, from the fans, to the coaches, to me, to everybody in this city. We need to run the ball better, bottom line. We need to block better. We need to run better. We need to protect the ball better. We need to run better plays, I mean, you name it. Everything needs to get better.”

How much pressure he feels to make the right hire for the head coaching job: “I feel pressure everyday in my job. That’s what it is.”

Understanding the possibility of not getting the chance to hire another coach if his initial decision does not work out: “Absolutely, I signed up for it.”

On what priority extending WR Golden Tate is for him: “Not right away. I got a head coach to go hire, so we’ll talk about player stuff when it’s time to talk player stuff.”

His thoughts of his first draft class following year two: “Yeah, I mean it was kind of an up and down year to be honest with you, with the injury to (Taylor) Decker. I mean, that kind of put us behind the eight ball to be honest with you. And we struggled at that spot for half the year, and then Deck slowly got better and he was playing his best football the last couple weeks of the season. So, hopefully next year he comes back even stronger. And I think the rest of those guys, I think A’Shawn (Robinson) had a good year. Miles (Killebrew) did OK. I think his role should continue to evolve and get bigger. So, I mean, I talk to a lot of those guys and I think they know that they need to improve their individual skillset, so when they’re put in a position to go out there and play, they can perform at a higher level.”

If he expects the new head coach to win immediately: “I mean, I hope so. I mean, my expectations are what I said before, win championships. That’s why I was hired and that’s why I’m here. So, that’s why the new head coach is going to be here as well.”

What the decision to fire Caldwell says about the window the team has to win in the short-term future: “I think we have enough players to contend. But the question is, ‘Do we have enough players to get over the top?’ And I think we got to—Every off-season’s different. There’s free agency, there’s the draft.  So, like I said a minute ago, 30 percent of our team’s going to be different. So, my job is to make sure that 30 percent is better than the 30 percent that’s leaving.”

If he feels that the roster in the previous two seasons was capable of winning more than nine games: “Yes.”

If he thinks he could have done a better job of acquiring more talent and depth these past two seasons: “I definitely could have done a better job. Like I said, unless we win every game, I didn’t do my job well enough. So, I’m the first one to stand up and admit that I won’t be perfect, but I think we have more than a competitive team to be competing for championships.”

If he felt that Caldwell could not take the team to a championship level: “Yeah, we didn’t get there. We didn’t get there. We worked at it for two years and we didn’t get there. So, that’s the decision that I came to.”

What went through his head when the Lions defense only had nine and 10 players on the field: “I mean, those are two individual plays out of thousands of plays that we had this year. Were they disappointing? Obviously. I mean, that’s something that you kind of shake your head at and you try to figure out. But you come in on Monday, you watch the tape, talk to the coaches, see what really happened behind the scenes on those. And listen, I’m not sitting up here making excuses, it’s unacceptable, but it’s something that we need to improve on. We need to learn from, partly on the players, partly on the coaches. It’s something that we’ll get straightened out.”

How much he will explain to head coaching candidates the ownership succession plans: “Haven’t thought of it.”

If he feels he is taking a risk by dismissing a coach with a winning record: “There’s risk in everything I do every day. So, yes.”

How much he was bothered by long stretches where the team was not competitive such as Week 6 at New Orleans or Week 16 at Cincinnati: “Yeah, I think that’s a big part of why I’m standing here today. I think there’s games that we could’ve, would’ve, and should’ve won and we didn’t. And this is a results business, this is wins and losses. We can talk about all of the individual plays, all the individual players, staff, we can talk about all that stuff. It comes down to winning football games and winning championships.”

If Stafford wanting to work with Offensive Coordinator Jim Bob Cooter in the future factors into his thinking: “I’m trying to find the best head coach. I’m trying to find the best head coach and if the best head coach wants to keep that going, then that’s something we can talk about. But my first focus is the head coach. We can worry about the offensive coordinator and the quarterback after that.”

If Cooter is a candidate for the head coaching position: “I’m not talking about any candidates until we interview them.”

How much a coach’s scheme preferences will factor into his decision: “Yeah, I don’t have a preference. I think when you hire a head coach you’re hiring that guy to come in and run the football team, the scheme offensively, defensively, special teams. So, I’m never going to tell a head coach we have to run a 4-3, or we have to run a 3-4. Like, I’m not going to do that. Any good general manager will let the coaches coach and let me do what I do.”

If he wants a coach who is strongly opinionated about the type of personnel he wants through the draft and free agency: “I do want someone that’s opinionated because I think that’s—The most important relationship in this building is between the head coach and the general manager. So, we have to be on the same page on what kind of players that the head coach wants, that we can communicate back and forth about guys that fit, the guys that don’t fit. Whether that’s current players, or whether that’s free agency, or whether that’s the draft. So, I think that’s huge. I think that’s something that’s going to be a big part of the interview process about what do they think of players, how can they use players and how can they utilize the players that we already have here. Because we do have, in my opinion, a lot of good football players in that locker room.”