What has Holmes Done Right that his Predecessors Did Wrong?

Two free agency periods, drafts and seasons have come and gone now and most of us feel good about where the Lions are at this point. What has Holmes done better than other Lion GMs in the 21st century?

Millen’s teams never sniffed a run like Brad’s team went on to finish 8-2. Mayhew had the hot 2011 but never a run like that. The Lions won 5 in a row to start 2011. The Lions crashed back to the ground in 2012.

We don’t know what 2023 holds but I think most of us would be shocked at NOT making the playoffs at this point. Holmes has $ available, affordable free agents to re-sign, options and 5 top 90 draft picks in his pocket. If FEELS like this foundation is better than anything we have seen in the last 25+ years. But why?

  1. QB matters. Holmes had the Stafford trade card…and he used it on Goff. I know opinions are split on Goff but honestly the value for Stafford hasn’t really materialized yet in that Jameson Williams hasn’t played a major role yet and Iffy hasn’t added value yet. That will change in 2023 with Jameson healthy and the #6 OA pick in our pocket. Goff here was terrible uner Anthony Lynn.

Since benching Anthony Lynn as play caller the Lions under campbell are 12-13-1. Goff has been up and down but when he is hot he is as good as any QB in the league. If we subtract Lynn’s time with Goff as play caller the Lions are 12-10-1 with Goff starting factoring out the first 8 games under Lynn which isn’t fair but it is interesting.

Under Millen we had Garcia, Joey, McMahon, Kitna and Drew Stanton (all from memory!!). Yuck. Mayhew gave us Stafford. Amazing. As much as I like Matt the Lions had 4 winning seasons with mtt as the starting QB (2011, 2014, 2016 and 2017). Quinn inherited Stafford and had two winning seasons with Matt…2016 and 2017 BUT…fired his winning coach for a loser.

  1. Coaching matters. I was worried about Campbell here. Winning coaches RARELY lose for two seasons then win. But Dan did it in 2022. 9-8. In fact, without Lynn Dan’s Lions are 12-13-1 and with Goff as the starting QB (WITHOUT Lynn) the Lions are 12-10-1 in two NFL seasons. It needs to be mentioned that Holmes didn’t hire Dab but Holmes could have panicked and fired Dan and no one would have blamed him. Holmes showed patience.

  2. Free Agent Moves AND re-signing the guys that most matter. All new GMs inherit talent and bad contracts. Brad has made pretty excellent moves including letting Kenny Golladay walk, locking down Ragnow, Tracy Walker and Romeo Okwara and then finding guys like Charles Harris and Cominsky. Buggs. Jamaal Williams was an excellent signing. Josh Reynolds was great as a depth WR. Chark was a wise move. No long-term contracts to date.

Quinn drove away guys he drafted like Glasgow for guys he didn’t draft. DT A. Robinson too. Quinn’s biggest mistake was Caldwell walking and hiring Patricia but Quinn shipped out guys and that decision is on him… Holmes also added value and cap space by trading Hock and that is an amazing move at this point. A real WOW decision. Took balls. Quinn traded Diggs and Slay out of fear players weer showing up his coach and Holmes traded Hock as he likely knew he wasn’t going to pay that kind of $ and that we might be better without him!

  1. Draft Picks Matter. Holmes isn’t just talking the talk but his actions mirror a clear desire to be good on the OL and DL. Sewell, Levi O. (likely a bad pick), Alim McNeil (a great 3rd rd. pick), Hutch and Paschal speak to a need to be good up front. From there Holmes sees safety as a need and Kirby was an amazing pick. Getting value in later rounds seems weird as a Lions fan when under Millen and Mayhew I felt tile we should just trade all later draft picks as they ain’t gonna work out anyway!

By year three Millen was already in way over his head. Most here (this board was around then!) realized Millen was never going to win. Joey, Charles Rogers and so on just weren’t worth rooting for back then overall.

2011 was exciting but we all also knew that team was smoke and mirrors. There were serious issues on both sides of the ball. Calvin and Matt were exciting as hell but everything else sucked. Suh was an amazing pick but the rest of the D never played awesome together (there were stretches in 2013 where the D was really good).

Holmes so far has walked the mine field of Stafford leaving. Many here thought he was crazy for not taking Carolina’s offer but now we can say that would have been a shit decision. I never thought Matt would make it 2 years healthy for the Rams and that 2022 was the likely best pick to have and damn, Holmes turned that to gold.

Holmes hasn’t been perfect and this thread isn’t to paint how perfect Brad has been. But Brad has made one smart choice after another. Sewell was an excellent choice, Brad didn’t overthink Hutch. Brad is trying to rebuild the defense and he is starting in the trenches and safety.

I can’t wait to see what Holmes does next but so far he has been pretty damn good compared to Millen (who sucked by year three), Mayhew (2011 was exciting and Mayhew wasn’t overall awful here) and Quinn. Quinn was actually pretty damn good year one but his 2017 draft was horrific and his future was doomed at that point. Thoughts?

  1. Handsomeness matters. Shave your head, you ugly sons’a’bitches!!!
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We still haven’t done anything more than previous regimes. We have hopes and expectations but we still haven’t accomplished anything. When we finally win a playoff game it would be more prudent to have these type of threads.


Lol - when is the last time, over a ten game stretch, we went 8-2?

And to answer the OPs question…. EVERYTHING :crazy_face::crazy_face::crazy_face::heart::heart::heart::pray:


What has Holmes done right, drafted good players


Hitting on draft picks is huge. So far it looks like Brad hits more than he misses.


We are Lions fans and we have seen this club lose ball games every way possible. Most losses because the our team was the weak and inferior team.

Being guarded or cautiously optimistic is reasonable.

As Deaddog points out how many times have the Lions had an 8-2 run? Very, very rare Earth here.

I don’t see the Lions getting worse at this point. We are young, hungry and we can afford free agents we want to keep. AND, 5 top 80 ish picks are on the way too! This ISN’T 2015 when Mathew’s financial decisions came home to roost right when we were getting good. This isn’t 2018 when Quinn fired a winning coach for Patricia and Quinn’s top 2 2017 picks would go on to be practice squad guys.

Holmes’s decisions started with getting Goff for Stafford and I was happy then and I am happier now also noting Jared looked like shit under Lynn. But post-Lynn Goff has a shot to win more games than we ever did with Matt Stafford.

I am not saying Goff is better than Stafford. I AM saying Holmes has a better vision and ability to build a more complete team than Millen, Mayhew OR Quinn at this point.


Yeah, well. Some of us don’t have to shave it to be beautiful.


love it! Good one!

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Going bald the old fashioned way.


Its okay to be positive and have hope. We don’t always have to be bogged down in “well akshually.”

Good topic and good points @MyLions :+1:
I think you’re missing the most important piece of the puzzle, and it had nothing to do with Holmes.
How would Holmes be doing if Shila choose Marinelli Part II?
I see Brad drafting and building this team in a collaborative manner. Both he and Dan/staff our in mutual agreement on virtually all draft picks and player personnel. I hope we never discover which one has the bigger impact. I’d like to see them ride this out for the next 20+ years!


IMO… this is probably the first time I recall a Lions GM that has drafted football players that have produced on the field… but also have the “plus” athleticism needed to succeed in the NFL….
and have displayed positive football character.

We had guys drafted with previous GMs that were good college players… but were lacking athletically or physically… or were just “turds”.

and when they did draft guys with elite athleticism… many were just not good football players… or were “turds”.

Holmes and the group seem to be finding the right balance of character, skill, and athleticism.


One of Millen’s biggest mistakes was listening to Marinelli. One of Quinn’s biggest mistakes was listening to Patricia. Being a good GM means working with your coaching staff, but understanding when to overrule them. Part of being a good coaching partner for your GM is not letting your ego and emotion cloud your judgement. Former NFL coaches have said that one of the biggest challenges for a coach that also has the GM hat on is that there are moves that coaches want to make that are all about discipline and “sending a message” that GMs are insulated from. Former coaches who never had the GM hat spoke to the fact that they were happy they never had GM powers because they would have made some rash decisions on players they were forced to work with and it turned out successful.

A GM who listens to his HC has the ability to become that person if he doesn’t moderate it. I think MCDC is a good partner because he understands the “business side” that Brad is working in. If he recommends trading Shaun Rogers or Darius Slay, it will be for football reasons. Not ego and control.


Love that - Congrats, my brother!

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Mr. Peabody, you make an excellent point about knowing when to NOT listen to a head coach when the long-term interests of the team are at stake.

I believe Campbell may have publicly note that he supported and LOVED Jameson Williams but Coach Dan should have HATED that pick day one as you just drafted a guy in rd. 1 who cannot help you in 2022. We all understand that Campbell and Holmes LOVED Josh Paschal and no, Josh was unlikely to be a a target with a trade up like that (where we took Jameson). I think Coach Campbell (with a 2022 perspective) would have preferred to stay put and draft Josh Paschal and then also draft a guy high in rd. 2…likely Christian Watson BUT we just signed Chark so maybe LBer OR CB help instead (thinking about what a coach would want in 2022 as Jameson isn’t going to help in 2022).

That was the Lions get say Hutch, Paschal, maybe Christian Watson, we ge that early 3rd back and maybe draft a LBer like Chad Muma and also Kirby Joseph? A coach would likely prefer guys that can play NOW V. a later investment.

Holmes however bets on the incredibly high ceiling of Jameson Williams and then goes to work and steals Paschal, Kirby Joseph and Malcolm Rodriguez. and James Houston but Dan had to be sweating to some degree. Good for Holmes for making a deal tha should serve this team better in the years to come.

Speaking of OL and DL commitment Millen did that for one draft. Backus, Raiola and Shaun Rogers were all year one. After that Millen chased bad QBs and WRs. Could have had Drew Brees but instead took Backus. Terrible choice when we had no QB…but then Millen gets caught NOT doing research on Harrington and the rest is history. Year one was solid and shit after that. Mayhew was the best GM we have had until Holmes. Mayhew fixated on DT and then old drafting contracts hurt Martin. But he wasn’t awful overall…but outside his first draft only 2013 really stands out as excellent. Mismanaged contracts. Also hired Jim Caldwell.

Quinn had an excellent first draft and then a shit draft in 2017 (Golladay was excellent as was Agnew). Somehow Caldwell goes 9-7 and he is rewarded by being fired. Patricia enters the picture and Quin draft Ragnow and Walker (solid) but overall that was a weak draft. By 2019 the wheels fall off as that draft is horrific as Patricia is likely medling fully. By 2020 Quinn picks a CB over a stud DT (Brown) and the Lions ship is sunk as Quinn is desperate and chasing it. Quinn did sign Marvin Jones and that was amazing.

Holmes has a clear vision of sustained focus on the OL and DL. I two drafts Holmes drafted Sewell, Levi, Alim, Hutch and Paschal. TE James Mitchell is a 5th rounder. Holmes swings for Jameson Williams in 2022 but past that it is a OL and DL focus. Smart.

I expect Holmes to finish the DL in 2023 by re-signing Cominsky, Buggs and by drafting Carter OR Bresee. I also see Holmes drafting a C/G guy like Glasgow at some point too. Recently I have been thinking if 320 pound C/G John Michael Schmidt is there in rd. 2 that might be hard to pass up.

Say we draft a DT (Carter/Bresee…maybe with a slight trade down for Bresee?), a CB (this is a rich CB draft), a RB in rd. 2 and then John Michael Schmidt that would be very solid AND consistent with the vision to win through the trenches.

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He and the rest of the brain trust developed a plan, and it was a good plan, then they stayed. the. course.

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What has Holmes done right? He became the GM of the Detroit Lions.

What had his predecessors (ie Matt Millen) done wrong? Also became the GM of the Lions.

Furthering this point, flat out a lot of coaches are really shitty evaluators of talent


Particularly in the later rounds