Lions’ Quinn: ‘I have a to-do list that’s a mile long’

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Mobile, Ala. — Jaguars general manager David Caldwell has tried to implement some aspects of the “Patriots Way” since taking over in Jacksonville.

After spending 2008-12 in Atlanta working under GM Thomas Dimitroff, who had been with New England from 2002-07, Caldwell saw what it was like to implement some of the Patriots’ methods on a different team.

When Caldwell took over in Jacksonville in 2013, he tried to bring some of those same ideas, along with those he learned for a decade working with Bill Polian in Indianapolis, so he understands the challenges new Lions GM Bob Quinn faces as he tries to improve Detroit’s franchise.

“It just takes some time, and they’re not going to be able to do it right now,” Caldwell said at the Senior Bowl Wednesday. “They’re probably going to have to wait until after the draft. And then all summer, they’ll work on it, and they’ll find out the right personnel people to get in there that can carry it out.

“As long as you have the right processes in place, the rest of it should fall in line.”

Thus far, Quinn hasn’t had much of a chance to install his new system. Although he’s made some decisions — like retaining the coaching staff — and altered the personnel department, Quinn said he’s been bogged down a bit with administrative work.

Quinn is still in the process of evaluating both the scouting department and the roster, and now that he’s in charge, he realizes that people constantly need to talk to him. Fortunately, some of his previous colleagues warned him that his office would effectively have a revolving door.

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“Sometimes I should close the door (because) I need to watch some football,” he said. “So, you know, nothing that I never thought was going to happen. It’s just the time it takes to take care of some of those things is probably a little bit more extensive than I had thought.”

One of Quinn’s tasks this offseason will be determining if he wants to sign any of the 2013 draft picks — like cornerback Darius Slay — to contract extensions, but he declined comment on that because he still needs to examine the players more.

“I’m hoping to burn up my tape machine a little bit more in the next two weeks, I’d say, so I’ll have a lot better feel then,” he said.

Although his subordinates continually interrupt him, Quinn said the Lions people he’s worked with have been supportive, and he’s enjoyed the first couple of weeks on the job.

“It’s a challenge every day,” he said. “I have a to-do list that’s a mile long every morning, and I just try to get as many things done as I can before the night falls, so it’s been fun.”

Among the changes Quinn has already made was hiring Kyle O’Brien as director of player personnel, and he’ll oversee both the college and pro scouting departments. O’Brien worked with Caldwell as the Jaguars’ director of college scouting the last three years. He also worked for the Patriots for more than 10 years, so O’Brien knows how Quinn will want to work.

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Other moves Quinn made already included firing longtime scout Scott McEwen and senior vice president of football operations Cedric Saunders.

Previously, the Lions sent their pro scouts to the Senior Bowl, but Quinn decided Sheldon White, Rob Lohman and others should stay in Detroit this week to continue preparing for free agency.

During the constant conversations in the office, Quinn said people regularly ask how he did things in New England. He declined to detail the administrative work that’s detracted time from other evaluations of the team.

“It’s nice to have the process in place, but at the end of the day, it comes down to making decisions,” said Caldwell, who used to scout the West Coast with Quinn. “You could have all the information in the world, but if you can’t make the decision of who to take, it doesn’t work.

“You’re not always going to have a consensus, and that’s where Bob will do a good job where he’ll take in all the information and make the best decisions for the Lions.”