Lions’ Bob Quinn open-minded in search for ‘best coach’

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn finishes his press conference on Monday in Allen Park.

Allen Park – Bob Quinn isn’t looking for an offensive wizard or a defensive guru. Experience? Sure, it wouldn’t hurt, but it’s not a prerequisite. Same with familiarity. He’s also open to any kind of scheme.

There’s only one thing the Detroit Lions general manager expects from his next head coach – someone capable of winning a championship.

“My preference is to hire the best coach to help us win a championship,” Quinn said Monday. “I think when you look at the head coaches that are hired in this league, they come in all shapes and sizes. I’m going to out to find the best coach.”

That’s easier said than done. The Lions haven’t exactly had the best success hiring coaches and they just fired Jim Caldwell, their most successful coach – in terms of winning percentage – during the Super Bowl era. To add to the complexity, Quinn has not been part of a coaching search before. Not in Detroit, and not during his 12 years in New England, where Bill Belichick held serve during Quinn’s tenure with the franchise.

It doesn’t mean Quinn is unprepared. He’s been prepping for this moment before he even became a general manager, maintaining a short list of potential candidates. And he also has former colleagues around the league, from Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli in Atlanta to Jason Licht in Tampa Bay, who Quinn can lean on for advice.

“I have a lot of people I can lean on, a lot of people I will talk to, a lot of research that still needs to be done,” Quinn said. “Ultimately, it will be a good plan and I’m looking forward to following through on it.”

Quinn is already quickly working to line up interviews. According to various reports, the Lions have put in requests to talk to six candidates. Interviews will be conducted by Quinn and team president Rod Wood. Ownership and players won’t be directly involved.

And while the clear focus is finding the one who can take the Lions to the promised land, there are boxes Quinn is looking to check through the interview process.

“Leadership, situational football, a willingness to adjust and adapt the scheme to players,” he said. “Really, just someone that can lead this team, with the players we have and the players we will acquire, and put them in the best position to win.”

More: 12 Detroit Lions coaching candidates

The Lions won under Caldwell, going 9-7 each of Quinn’s first two seasons with the organization, but that wasn’t good enough. And while the general manger was highly complimentary to Caldwell during a Monday afternoon news conference, Quinn also laid out the clearest reason he believed the organization needed a new voice.

“When you look at our record, over the last couple years since I’ve been here, we didn’t beat the really good teams,” Quinn said. “Our record was above average, 9-7 the last two years, but our record against the better teams in the league has not been that good.”

The Lions went 17-2 against non-playoff qualifiers the past two seasons and 1-12 against teams that earned a postseason berth.

More: Lions players praise 'good guy' Jim Caldwell

As for scheme, Quinn believes the team has a malleable core of talent, including quarterback Matthew Stafford, capable of exceling in any scheme. The general manager plans to give his hire full autonomy over scheme and his staffing decisions. Quinn will stick to personnel, but he is also looking for a coach who will challenge him to get the best fits.

“I do want someone that’s opinionated, because the most important relationship in this building is between the head coach and the general manager,” he said. “We have to be on the same page with what kind of players the head coach wants, and communicate back and forth about guys that fit or don’t fit, whether current players, free agency, or the draft.

“I think that’s huge, something that will be a big part of the interview process,” Quinn continued. “What do they think about players, how can they use players, how can they utilize the players that we already have here? Because we do have, in my opinion, a lot of good players in that locker room.”

Quinn’s search for the best choice began Monday. The process figures to be thorough, but only time will tell if the Lions will finally find the right man to lead the franchise to its first Super Bowl. It’s what Quinn was brought here to do.