The Collaborative Process...Examples Where it Could Really Have Helped

There is a lot of talk about office structures, Woods’s role and so on and honestly I don’t want to pretend like I am an expert in professional football structures, asset management or the decision making process.

I think it is worth noting the head coach has been elevated to have a larger role in personnel or at least a powerful voice.

I thought it worth exploring past decisions that maybe the Lions could have avoided if they had involved coaches into the draft process.

I am looking right at the 2001 draft for starters. Millen’s first draft along as he let Bill Tobin go after their first draft (which was really, really good) but the team was not committing to Charlie Batch so:
Drew Brees. A committee may have been smart enough to find a way to work with Batch still and use a pick on a QB to groom if the room was split on Batch. Batch just wrapped up his 3rd season with the Lions and Drew Brees was on the board. That was the move to make and a smart team could have seen how competition at the QB spot would have been the way to go in that draft. I love me some Backus of course and many on this board way back then wanted Brees as he was that good at Purdue.

Next draft we get Harrington. Hard to image a great scout not seeing the flaws in Joey’s game and his personality that might be a problem in the pro game. Nope, we didn’t have a QB which led to reaching for Harrington as there was no QB plan in place for Millen who controlled the whole show.

The point isn’t to bang on Millen but to see how this process can really work.

Look at the way Mayhew handled tha DT position group with Corey Williams signed (via trade), then draft Suh in 2010 only to draft Fairley in 2011. We had Avril and KVN and Ryan Kerrigan was on the board. Again, it is easy to think we could have KVN’s replacement AND a better evaluation of Fairley’s character which was said to be an issue with him. That is partially why he fell. 2 DTs in 2 years when we also signed Corey Williams was a move that a committee might have said “what is the plan at DT with Suh and Williams on board? If we add Fairley who sits and is that wise? Where else are we weak?” I can see a committee eliminating Fairley well ahead of the draft if they critically thought about what they were going to do at DT.

Look at the 2014 draft when we PASSED on Aaron Donald. A smart committee might have seen Suh and Fairley as free agents and thought maybe we should let both walk next season but we don’t want to be horrible at DT in 2015 so Donald might make a LOT if sense as we rotate him in as a rookie and in 2015 at least we should have a stud DT on the roster still. Instead it all falls apart and Gabe Wright starts games for us in 2015. Disaster that a committee maybe could have game planned with a plan for position groups. ESP. with the contract guy in the discussion mix meaning you KNOW Suh is likely gone and Fairley has need a mixed bag. Hell, TRADE Fairley as a plan if you can draft Donald. Again, a committee looking long term should have sniffed that out.

In 2006 we had a new coach in Rod M. It is easy to see why they took Ernie Sims but a scout guy being in the mix may have reminded the GM and coach that Ernie has an issue with concussions. Further the Lions had no QB plan yet. Matt Leinart didn’t pan out and Jay Cutler was there…but we took a small LBer to make Rod happy when a solid scout guy may have easily been able to see the clear flaws in Ernie’s game. ON this board there was a collective groan and discussion about Ernie’s concussions and flaws in his game. We were not happy with that pick at all as it seemed flawed. A committee may have said…we ain’t got a QB long term. We have Jon Kitna in Mike Martz’s system.

You cannot cherry pick but as a team is putting together their team needs, position plans, draft board it is easy to see how the Lions lacked planning at multiple levels AND lacked a top college scout at the highest levels of these discussions.

I look at the Lions and their WR position group right now and I see the potential of the 2015 Lions at DT if we let Golladay, Jones AND Amendola walk. Danny I don’t mind but certainly there needs to be a plan at WR for free agency as well as the draft as this position group cannot be a top rookie and Sanu (who is also a free agent) right? That would be TERRIBLE planning.

The defense is an issue too. But I can see the committee being forced to have plans n place with our own free agents in our budget, then string in free agency for the league then re-grouping the committee to do final prep for the draft led by our top scout and new GM Brad Holmes. With serious and critical input from Disner and Campbell.

Again, I don’t know about structures but I can see how a committee may have mitigated disaster in the past and may help us deal with the WR position group as well as this defense in a methodical and rational way. Something we really haven’t seen from the Lions at all.

In fact the Lions seem to overreact to needs like CB…need one, draft Okudah and to hell with value (I like Okudah but I agreed the value sucked there). Need a LBer…reach for Tavai or Tabor and on and on. Need a free agent…what do the Patriots have available?

The Lions now have a much deeper well of institutional knowledge available to them concerning players and coaches. I can see that being a real asset IF the guys in power play their roles well and actually work together.

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What’s weird to me is, the Lions have clearly set up a system for the coach to be integrally involved in player procurement.

But we didn’t have something like that before? Weren’t we sold that Matt Patricia was Bob Quinn’s boy? That they were as aligned as a coach and a GM could be?

I guess they were just really bad at their jobs.

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As we look closer at how Bob Quinn operated here it doesn’t appear they were in lock step and Patricia was not seen as a reporting person to anyone with Quinn.

There were rumors Patricia wanted Derrick Brown in 2020 for example. Quinn drafted Okudah.

As we look closer at the moves Quinn made in 2018 and 2019 there wasn’t a lot of urgency with Bob at all to get the guys in here that we needed. This defense needs a GREAT NT yet we entered the season with Sylvester Williams as the starter? I like that 2018 draft overall but Sly and Ricky Jean Francois along with A’Shawn Robinson as your starters seems like a stretch for that defense as Robinson just didn’t play like Patricia wanted him to play. In fact, we ALL wondered what was going on with Robinson (a 2nd rd. pick) almost every day under Patricia.

Also, we were bad at second CB and Quinn was MUCH too slow to understand Tabot was a poor scheme fit for Patricia AND Tabor was lazy early on here.

That doesn’t feel aligned to me at all.

The 2008 Lions fall heavily on Rod’s shoulders. Those are the type of decisions that are possible when a coach is too heavily involved.

Right Wes. In 2008 we had holes everywhere and I do think Rod was stamping the team. I think a lack of a true scouting guy hurt Millen as he was unable to understand the difference between Cherikus and Branden Albert. He was making Rod happy but at a high cost. He choose the wrong OT even though we traded down.

Next, in rd. 2 and 3 we took need over talent as we COULD have had a RB in rd. 2 (Ray Rice or Matt Forte) V. LBer Jordan Dizon and so on. That draft wasn’t great but you can really see the Lions lack of leadership on display.

Again, I don’t know about Wood’s role and so on but I like have a head scout as a decision-maker, I like having the coach playing a role and I like Mike D. as a cap guy playing a role as you can see how that MIGHT lead to better long term thinking.

Good post OP.

When one person decides to put their “stamp” on the team … it usually ends up being a tramp stamp.

Dillusions about Ernie Sims becoming Derrick Brooks, and ignoring concussions and horrible penchance for overrunning every play, is why you need checks and balances when drafting college players.

‘Smart guy’ tends to ignore all red flags when enamored by potential, or huge numbers at Albion.

Same holds true for all of the other massive fails of Millen, Mayhew, and Quinn.

I think, with the new structure, this will be beneficial to the Lions in the long run.

My reasoning -

no singular decision maker, they will be a team all reporting to the same person. But any disagreements (and there will be a million disagreements) will have to be discussed amongst them, and they come to a collaborative agreement. As long as none of them go rogue and try to undermine another, this is an ideal structure. Wood’s role is being blown up and over-analyzed. Listen, this dude is not making any football decisions and they hired the people they did so he DOESNT have to make these decisions.

Instead, they have a structure now where the GM and coach and disner are all a team and need to come to a conclusion on decisions. If any of these individuals at any point have an issue they are free to come to Wood and express concerns, but otherwise, the expectation is these leaders of the team sort out disagreements and build the Lions as they all best see fit.

I feel like with this structure now coming out, there were real issues with Bob Quinn that Wood was not made immediately aware of, and because employees didn’t want to go above their direct report they didn’t say anything and this led to the demise. I would be very curious to hear an insider opinion of the relationship between Quinn and Patricia.

Regardless, we are here now and the expectation is for the GM(s) and coach to work together and create the best plan for the team moving forward. They will disagree of course, but the expectation is they are all mature adults able to settle these things and ultimately make the best decisions for the team.

I think the issue Wood may have really been caught off-guard by was how many people disagreed with Quinn (including Patricia?) and Quinn was given final say. That will not happen anymore and that is a good thing.

Just my random thoughts

Also too, Wood not being a “football guy” doesn’t matter here. They have spielman, but they hired a great core of football guys so Wood shouldn’t have to have any say or input to begin with.

Great post. I’ve actually shared similar sentiments, and included identical examples recently. You took them even farther, and it was a great read!

The devil you know is a real thing. The funny thing is there really aren’t many “good” contracts in the nfl these days. Almost every single one, either the player or team is unhappy.

It’s crazy to say 900k-1.0m isn’t enough to play a game, but Golladay has been underpaid dramatically so far. So has Ragnow, soon it comes time to make a decision.

A) extend your guy with 2 years left at “today’s prices” knowing average pay will be higher in two years. Make contracts appealing to players who have 2 cheap years left and take anxiety of long term security away, but make the last year cuttable or player voidable. KENNY NICE SOPHOMORE YEAR WITH 1,000 YARDS! YOU’VE GOT 2 YEARS LEFT, BUT WE DONT WANT YOU WORRY ABOUT YOUR FUTURE. HOW ABOUT 3 YEARS AND 45 EXTENSION? It’s 15M per in extension, but really 5 years and 47M. We didn’t see him as a 9M per wr after 2018?

B) wait til the end of yours guys contract, and if he’s still really good, pay him vs somebody’s guy. I’m tired of watching Tomlinson, Glasgow, Van Noy, Diggs, Rieff succeed elsewhere and their replacements making similar money here with less results.

C) be more careful who you draft. Guys with 4.75 speed not playing QB, OL, or DT really don’t need to be drafted. CBs without production and size shouldn’t be taken. Rbs who get hurt a lot I. College shouldn’t be take cetc

Which makes it a little odd to have a forced marriage between a GM and Head Coach who probably don’t know each other. And certainly have never worked together before.

So what you are saying is that the team under him will always come to an agreement.

To clarify, the team under him definitely will not always agree, and most likely have many discussions and disagreements. But what counts is it’s the ability to work through issues and come up with a solution they can all live with. And they all have an open path to their boss, Wood, should they need it.

I forget where I read it but someone wrote something about everyone was reporting to Bob Quinn, and while his team under him disagreed, he would make the final decisions despite input.

In this setup, they all have to make the final decisions, and their input will count.

I dunno if it was forced necessarily, didn’t they ask about who in the league they would like to work with? Also too, all these guys know each other whether they’ve worked together or not. I’m sure it’s a pretty small world once you get in the league.

I prefer to think of it as a “forced reliance” and am 100% in support of that. You can thank Quinn and Patricia for that. Caldwell talked a bit about it with Schefter. I don’t want candidates in here that have to recreate their familiar bubble. If something you did before was worthwhile there, you should be able to recreate the process here. If that something required a specific person instead of type, then your process is broken.