Lions brass excited about the hiring of GM Brad Holmes

Owner Sheila Ford Hamp couldn’t hide her excitement about new Lions general manager Brad Holmes as she was introducing him on Tuesday during a virtual press conference.

“Just wait, you’ll see,’’ Hamp said repeatedly.

Team president Rod Wood explained how he trusts his first impressions. Within two or three minutes of the first interview with Holmes (which was virtual), Wood wrote a note to himself, “This is the guy.”

Holmes, 41, has worked his way up in the NFL.

In fact, he noted the last time he was at the Lions practice facility was when he was interviewing for a PR intern position. That was around 2003.

Instead he took the same job with the St. Louis Rams and worked his way up through the scouting ranks. He spent 18 seasons with the Rams, most recently as director of college scouting. He brings his knowledge of the 2021 draft class to Detroit.

Hamp was right, Holmes seems to have the right attitude to get the Lions back to the playoffs and not just get there, but also win. 

“Everything is about the team, bottom line,’’ he said. His delivery guaranteed those are not empty words. 

He was quite clear about the intangible he wants to see in every player. That would be passion. Holmes said there is no margin for error. Passion is of utmost importance when it comes to intangibles.

“We will build a winning and inspired culture… There will be no ego in this process,’’ Holmes said.

He’s not looking at a five-year plan. He’s looking to put a winning team on the field in the fall.

It’s hard not to like this guy just from watching this one virtual press conference.

Now he has to put some muscle behind his words and make the best decisions. He will be involved in the next big hire – the head coach.

Hamp, Wood, Chris Spielman (special assistant to Hamp) and Mike Disner (vice president of football operations) were in on all of the interviews. They talked to a dozen GM candidates.

When they debriefed after the initial Holmes interview, it wasn’t just Rod Wood who knew he was The Guy. It was unanimous.

It could be the dawn of a new era for the Lions franchise which hasn’t won a playoff game since Jan. 5, 1992.

Or it could be just another Lions’ GM hire.

I’d bet on the former. 

Just a gut feeling.

Detroit Lions fire Matt Patricia, Bob Quinn; start search for replacements

General Manager Bob Quinn and coach Matt Patricia were fired on Saturday by Detroit Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp.

After two-plus seasons, Patricia’s record was 13-29-1 and 4-7 this season after two straight embarrassing losses.

Hamp, principal owner and chairwoman of the Lions, made the announcement along with team president Rod Wood on a Zoom conference call late Saturday afternoon.

“I am very dedicated to turning this ship around,” Hamp said.

Patricia will be replaced by offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell on an interim basis.

Earlier she had informed the players of the firings through a Zoom meeting along with Bevell. Wood said a few players stood up and had positive things to say moving forward

Hamp said the last two losses to Carolina and Houston played a factor in her decision.

“Ten days ago we looked like we had a good chance to be playoff bound. Both of those games were extremely disappointing and it just seemed like the path going forward wasn’t what we wanted it to be,’’ Hamp said. “We thought this was a good time to make a change.’’

She will work together with Wood starting immediately in the search for new leadership. 

Hamp said they haven’t clearly defined the attributes they will be seeking for a general manager and coach.

“I promise you we are going to do an extremely thorough and comprehensive search for both positions,’’ Hamp said. “Yes, we have some ideas what we’re looking for but it’s not clearly defined.’’

Quinn was hired in January 2017 after Martin Mayhew had been fired late in the season. He kept coach Jim Caldwell for one season then fired him after a 9-7 season in 2017, saying that wasn’t good enough.

Patricia was hired by Quinn in January 2018 to replace Caldwell who had a  36–28 (.563) record, making him the first Detroit head coach (who lasted at least one season) to have a winning record since Joe Schmidt, who led the team from 1967 to 1972.

Patricia, 46, had a connection with Quinn going back to their days with the New England Patriots. Patricia had started with the Patriots in 2004 as an offensive assistant. He served as defensive coordinator from 2012 to 2017.  He was part of three Super Bowl championships.

Detroit was his first head coaching stint at any level. In Patricia’s first year he led the Lions to a 6-10 record, followed by 3-12-1 in 2019. 

The Lions went more than a year without winning a home game. They won at Ford Field on Oct. 27, 2019, and snapped that ugly streak with a 30-27 win over Washington on Nov. 15.

In Hamp’s opening remarks she showed appreciation to Quinn and Patricia.

“On behalf of my family I want to thank Bob and Matt for their hard world and their dedication to the Lions organization over the past several years,’’ Hamp said. “They’re both fine men and we wish them nothing but the best the rest of their careers.’’

Detroit Lions president says team wants to re-connect with Calvin Johnson

Also, updates on bringing draft to Detroit and ‘Hard Knocks’

DETROIT — One thing on Rod Wood’s to-do list is to get Calvin Johnson back in the fold — not on the field — but to have the former wide receiver as a part of the organization like Barry Sanders.

The Detroit Lions president spoke at the Taste of the Lions, an annual charity event, on Wednesday night at Ford Field.  

“I had it on my agenda today to talk internally about some things  to approach (Johnson) about getting back and involved,’’ Wood said. “It’s on the agenda to reach out to him. We have Barry (Sanders) coming in this week for a couple of events. I want to kind of try and find a way to do something similar with what we’re doing with Barry, if Calvin would be interested.’’

Johnson retired unexpectedly in March 2016 after nine seasons with the Lions.

“It’s a very high priority. I would expect in a couple years he’ll be considered for the Hall of Fame and I really want to have a relationship at that point that’s productive for both sides,’’ Wood said. “We could be there celebrating with him and find ways to have him here to celebrate as well.’’

Also on Wood’s agenda is bringing an NFL draft to Detroit.

The draft held in Nashville a few weeks ago seemed to be a success from all angles.

“I wasn’t down there obviously, but we had people down there. I saw it on TV. I think they did a great job,’’ Wood said. “Obviously they have a special area there with Broadway and the bars and the restaurants. I think what we learned is we need to do something, if we do it here, that’s iconically Detroit. We have a few ideas of how we may do that. We’re in the running for a couple years from now to bring the draft here.’’

His thoughts would be to showcase all of downtown Detroit, using multiple venues. He’s uncertain about the timeline but thinks the 2021 draft location could be announced next spring.

One more thing:  Wood said no word yet on whether the Lions will be featured on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” this preseason. He expects a decision to be announced soon.

Since the Lions have missed the playoffs for two straight years, they are one of the teams eligible for the behind-the-scenes, NFL reality show.

“So far I’ve not heard anything. I don’t know if that means we’re under consideration and no one has told us or it’s such a top secret thing they didn’t want to leak it out,’’ Wood said.

The tight-lipped organization would just as soon pass, but they won’t have a choice.

“The consequences of ending the season the way we did makes us eligible. We’ll deal with the consequences,’’ Wood said. “I’d much rather be here a year from now saying we’re not eligible.’’

The Taste of the Lions has become a major charity fund-raiser for the team.

“During the offseason it’s one of the big things we do to get the fans close to the players and the coaches,’’ Wood said. “When you’re in the building every day you kind of get immune to how special this is for a fan to get a chance to talk to one of our players or get a picture with coach, or Mrs. Ford is downstairs – get a picture with her. It’s a great opportunity to get close to the fans, raise some money for charity and showcase some of the great restaurants around town.’’