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?
- 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.
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.
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!
- 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?