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Lions' Quinn happy he stuck with Caldwell

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Lions head coach Jim Caldwell watches over a steamy practice Thursday at training camp in Allen Park.

Allen Park – Bob Quinn has heard the grumbling speculation from a vocal segment of the Detroit Lions fan base. The general manager is aware there are those out there who feel his employment with the organization was contingent upon the retention of Jim Caldwell as head coach.

Quinn also knows there’s little he can do to satisfy those critics.

“They can believe what they want to believe, but I’m saying it from the bottom of my heart, (owner Martha) Ford entrusted me to make that decision. That’s the one I made and I’m happy I did it,” Quinn said Wednesday.

Hired in early January to replace Martin Mayhew, Quinn said he needed time to make an informed decision on Caldwell’s future with the franchise.

“It’s going to be my feeling about if I can work with Coach Caldwell,” Quinn said at the time. “His philosophy, his beliefs, will they mesh with mine? I really want to get to know Coach Caldwell and see if we can work together.”

Over the next few days, Quinn and Caldwell met multiple times, spanning an estimated dozen hours. Four days after his introductory press conference, Quinn released a statement announcing the plan to retain Caldwell for a third season.

“After spending a significant amount of time together, it is clear that our football philosophies are very similar,” Quinn said in the statement. “Consequently, I am convinced he is the right man to lead our football team moving forward.”

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Later in the offseason, during an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio, Quinn doubled down on his decision, calling it the best move he had made his first several months on the job.

“I really have a great working relationship with Jim,” Quinn said. “All the sets of meetings we've had, whether it was when I first got there figuring out our team, leading into free agency, leading into the draft meetings, (I) really felt comfortable with Jim and his staff and their ability to take a player who has a certain skill set and make that fit into the schemes they are running."

The chemistry between the team’s two leaders has only grown stronger throughout the offseason.

“Jim is incredible,” Quinn said Wednesday. “I don’t know how it was here before, in terms of the relationship between the two offices, but I’m probably in Jim’s office four or five times a day. Jim’s probably in my office a couple times a day. We talk at the beginning of practice every day. If we’re not here, if we have a half-day off for some reason, we’re texting about something.

“To me, the most important relationship in this building is the general manager and head coach’s relationship. I couldn’t be happier with the way it has started the first seven months.”

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As far as Caldwell is concerned, his interactions with Quinn are simply par for the course.  But for the coach, it’s not just about communication, but the content of those conversations.

“I’m not certain I’d be considered a strong communicator,” Caldwell said. “I don’t know if anyone has christened me with golden-throated oratory. Nevertheless, one of the things I think is we’ve tried to be open, honest and frank with each other and he does a good job of that.”

In Caldwell’s first two seasons with Detroit, the team has tallied an 18-14 record. His .545 winning percentage is the franchise’s best since Joe Schmidt went 43-35-7 from 1967-72.

The Lions qualified for the postseason in 2014, losing in the wild-card round to Dallas. Last year, the team stumbled to a 1-7 mark, forcing Caldwell to shake up his staff midseason, firing offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and offensive line assistants Jeremiah Washburn and Terry Heffernan.  The team responded down the stretch, going 6-2 the final eight games.