Rogers: Van Noy trade fits Lions GM Quinn's philosophy
Allen Park — The Detroit Lions were done with Kyle Van Noy.
Despite holding the linebacker’s contractual rights through next season, they’d seen enough to determine he wasn’t part of the organization’s long-term future. On Tuesday, the Lions traded him, along with a future seventh-round pick, to the New England Patritos for a pittance, a 2017 sixth-round selection.
Hey, a nickel is better than nothing.
The timing of the deal was undoubtedly unconventional — you don’t often see teams in playoff contention dumping starters for draft picks — but it still fits within the parameters of the Patriots’ philosophies brought in by general manager Bob Quinn.
There are no sacred cows. If you’re not performing up to expectations, you’re time in Detroit will be short.
The Patriots have never hesitated to get rid of underperforming players, regardless of the price paid to acquire them. That’s always been the case under Bill Belichick.
In 2006, the Patriots traded up to draft wide receiver Chad Jackson at the top of the second round, but after two injury-plagued years, showed him the door. That sounds an awful lot like Van Noy, although he was given seven games into this third season to figure it out.
The Patriots also have little tolerance for off the field issues. Despite a league-wide premium on pass rushers, the team dealt 26-year-old Pro Bowl defensive end Chandler Jones this offseason following an alleged incident involving synthetic marijuana. Then, in April, the team cut 2014 first-round pick Dominique Easley for “unreliability and immaturity,” according to NESN.
That wasn’t the case with Van Noy. Detroit’s coaching staff consistently praised the linebacker’s preparation and conditioning coming into this season, but it never translated to the field. In seven starts, he recorded 21 tackles with no sacks, tackles for loss or forced turnovers.
“It’s like anything else, you have to do what you think is best for you at that time” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “It’s kind of the old O.O.D.A. decision cycle: We observe it, we orient ourselves, we know from experience what we expect, we make a decision on it, we act, and then we let the cycle just go over and over again.”
It’s clear the Lions had seen enough not to expect anything from Van Noy going forward. A premier college playmaker, the team wished him the best on his way out the door.
“I think without question, the guy, he works hard, you know, he does what you ask him to do,” Caldwell said. “I think sometimes a change of scenery helps a guy.”
In many ways, Quinn’s front-office philosophy mirrors Caldwell’s on the sidelines. He’s shown a willingness to bench an underperforming player, both short- and long-term. And no one is exempt.
Early-round draft picks Nick Fairley, Ameer Abdullah and Laken Tomlinson all experienced reduced playing time at the hands of Caldwell. Fairley temporarily lost his starting job because of his weight in 2014, Abdullah got the hook last year for his fumbling woes and Tomlinson is currently riding the pine for general ineffectiveness.
Even star veterans haven’t been spared at the hands of Caldwell. Quarterback Matthew Stafford was pulled after throwing three interceptions against Arizona last year and wide receiver Golden Tate was replaced by Andre Roberts in the second half against Chicago this season when he ran the wrong route, resulting in another Stafford pick.
Although it’s too early to tell with Tomlinson, the benchings have largely accomplished their purpose. Fairley, now with the Saints, has lost weight, Abdullah’s ball security improved and Stafford and Tate’s production has flourished in the aftermath.
It’s all part of a culture of Lions’ culture of accountability. Play hard, play well or sit down.