Lions mailbag: Tackling Quinn's quest for new coach

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Lions general manager Bob Quinn is in the midst of hiring his first head coach since joining the organization.

The Detroit Lions' coaching search is in a holding pattern. So while we wait for things to sort themselves out, let's do a mailbag.

If we're gonna lose out on Patricia, wouldn't it make sense to go after Vrabel now to assemble a coaching staff that MattPat will surely also be seeking?

— Kevin Mack (@kmack1023) January 12, 2018

If Matt Patricia is the Lions' preferred candidate, they should only move on if it's clear they wouldn't be able to land him. Until then, hang tight and allow the process to play out. Mike Vrabel, one potential backup plan, isn't going anywhere. And it's unlikely he's losing out on his staffing choices — a critical component of the interview process — during the next two or three weeks.

Do you believe Quinn is forcing (or highly encouraging) the next coach to retain JBC? Also, if it isn't Patricia, why aren't the Lions interviewing anyone else?

— MotownMarcinGB (@MarcAPerna) January 12, 2018

No, I don't believe Bob Quinn is forcing Jim Bob Cooter on any candidate. That said, it's easy to understand why a defensive coach, especially one without previous head-coaching experience, would want to stick with the status quo while he sorts through the other challenges he'll face in his first season.

As for why the Lions aren't interviewing anyone else, Quinn talked to six candidates. After that process, it's likely he's comfortable with more than one option and can let it play out.

Ansah, yes or no?

— rhoneyman (@rhoneyman) January 12, 2018

I wish the answer could be as simple as the question. I'm glad I don't have to make the decision, because it's a difficult one.

Ziggy Ansah finished top-10 in sacks, but nine of the 12 came in three games. That inconsistent production shined through in his pressure rate, which disappointingly ranked 69th among defensive players. He's a solid run defender, and that's important, but rushing the passer is what brings in the big bucks.

It's difficult to imagine Ansah not finding a suitor on the open market willing to offer up a sizable long-term deal. The Lions' best bet is to franchise him, but you're still talking a one-year deal north of $17 million, which eats up a good chunk of the team's available cap space.

If it was my choice, I'd lean no. But with little guarantee of finding an impact pass-rusher as late as the Lions are slated to draft in the first round, I wouldn't be surprised if the team tags him.

Ziggy Ansah, left, led the Lions with 12 sacks in 2017.

Will all re-signings of Lions who are free agents, and of other potential free agents be a discussion on hold until after a new coach is hired?

— Dave Bunnell (@davebunnell) January 12, 2018


More: Ranking the Detroit Lions’ top 12 free agents

Don't you think Quinn & Patricia are close enough to personally call each other (even though against the rules)? Quinn has to know 100% where Patricia stands. I think reports are true and just waiting to see what Giants do.

— Stephens (@JoshStephens24) January 12, 2018

I don't know the extent of their personal relationship, but I don't think Quinn is going to risk having his cell phone records pulled by the league if there's an accusation of tampering.

We pretty much all agree that Tabor didn’t live up to his second-round pick expectations this season, but am I crazy for thinking he’ll be a huge asset in the coming seasons?

— 𝕵𝖆𝖗𝖊𝖉 (@SuperMarilink) January 12, 2018

I don't think we all agree. Teez Tabor's usage didn't surprise me given the team's roster situation. He had four veterans ahead of him on the depth chart from day one. The most surprising thing was how healthy those four stayed throughout the season. That was certainly unusual.

Tabor was drafted not with 2017 in mind, but 2017-2020, the length of his rookie contract. Nevin Lawson and D.J. Hayden are both free agents this offseason and Quandre Diggs has one year remaining and might be permanently shifting to safety. That opens the door for significant playing time in 2018 for the former Florida product. So no, not crazy.

If JBC is retained, do you see an extra run game coach brought in? I know it's pass first, and Stafford likes JBC, but we have to improve the run game.

— Allan Fullerton (@ABFully) January 12, 2018

On the surface, I'm in favor of a run-game coordinator, but the Lions could just as easily benefit from the impending change of offensive line coach. If the next head coach retains Cooter, I'm sure the concern will be addressed.

Given Martha Ford's age, are head coach candidates concerned about a possible ownership transition in the near future? If not, should they be?

— Michael Lewis (@malewie) January 12, 2018

It's a fair question as Ford will turn 93 later this year. Quinn was asked if he would address a succession plan during coaching interviews and he said, "Haven't thought about it."

No one knows how that will eventually play out, but if the Ford children are ever determined to sell the franchise, that process would move at a slow enough pace that I wouldn't anticipate it affecting this hire.

Any names out there to replace Teryl Austin and Ron Prince?

— Steve (@bigredsv) January 12, 2018

No. Those decisions will be determined by the next head coach.

More: Rogers: Uncertainty clouds possible Patricia-Lions union

Can you please define what makes a "good" owner and a bad "owner"? Keep hearing how the Fords are "bad" owners. I would think loyalty would be a good selling point.

— spydermike72 (@rssbbq) January 12, 2018

To me a good owner is one who is willing to spend and makes consistently sound hires. The Lions aren't cheap. They use their cap space, have above-average facilities and pay the players they want to keep. Hiring, and sticking too long with bad hires, has been the problem from the Fords. It's easy to point to Matt Millen, but there are many more examples.

It's not fair to lump Martha Ford in with her husband. They are separate entities and she's proven to be far more aggressive during her time in charge. Rod Wood has been a proactive team president and made a number of fan-friendly moves managing the business side of the operation. And it's way too early to label Quinn a success or a failure, but the hiring process was handled well, making full utilization of the resources available.

Rookie running back Tion Green rushed for 165 yards and two touchdowns in five games this past season.

What are the odds Tion Green is the No. 1 RB next season.? Would have loved to see him get 20-25 carries.

— Motowncool© (@Motowncool) January 12, 2018

Low. I anticipate Quinn will be investing in the position, most likely via the draft, with the goal of landing someone capable of competing for the lead back role. Green brings a good energy to the locker room, and can contribute as a change-of-pace back and on special teams. There could still be a place for him on the 2018 roster.

Will Haloti Ngata be back for the Lions? I would love to see him back, but will his injuries keep him from playing anymore?

— John Popovits (@The_Johnny_Pop) January 12, 2018

It's certainly something the team should consider. That said, it must be recognized for what it is, a one-year stop gap to stabilize a weak position while a long-term solution is explored through the draft.

Give me three reasons why and why we should not want Le'Veon Bell.

— Cole Counts (@ColeCounts3) January 12, 2018

1. Money. He reportedly turned down a five-year, $60 million deal from the Steelers and is looking for something closer to $15 million per season. That's a lot to invest into a player who touched it more than 400 times last season.

2. He's one mistake away from a lengthy suspension. He was barred three games in 2016 for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. If he gets popped again, or even misses a mandatory test, he could be forced to sit 10 games.

3. His running style, which relies on never-before-seen patience in the backfield, could be a disastrous fit for the Lions, who allowed their backs to be tackled for no gain or a loss of yardage on 27 percent of carries last season.

Mock draft time!!! Who do you have going to us?

You’re welcome Justin.

— Grilled Cheese Sandwich (@StamosaurusRex) January 12, 2018

I have a love/hate relationship with mock drafts  I love to hate them. That said, I'll probably be doing one next week, once the deadline for prospects to declare has passed.

Will the Lions interview Steve Wilks?

— Annor. A (@Prince_Akeem17) January 12, 2018

While things could always change, that no longer appears to be in the cards.

Do you think Bob Quinn neglecting to interview McDaniels is a knock against him as a candidate? Gotta imagine BQ knows him just as well as he does Matty P. Seems odd that he wouldn't at least give him a look.

— Robert Wagner (@rbrtow) January 12, 2018

It speaks volumes that the Lions didn't request an interview with the Patriots offensive coordinator. When Quinn was hired by the Lions in 2016, he said Josh McDaniels was ready to be a head coach again, but apparently didn't feel strongly enough about those qualifications to talk to him about the opening in Detroit.

Can we establish a metric to gauge Quinn in 2-4 years from now on his decision to fire Caldwell and hire a new HC? IMO, Caldwell's marks of a winning record and 2 playoff appearances in 4 years is a realistic baseline. What's your view?

— Mason Golden (@goldenmaso) January 12, 2018

Yes, wins and losses will be the metric. If the Lions remain without a division title or playoff win in four years, you're probably looking at another overhaul of both the front office and coaching staff.

Have you seen anything during this process that indicates Quinn is better suited to hire a new coach than previous Lions front offices?

— Too Fly T (@fly3491) January 12, 2018

Your skepticism has merit. Let's face it, Quinn hasn't hired a coach before and never went through a coaching search in New England. It doesn't mean he can't be successful, but there's no precedent there.

If you want some optimism, Thomas Dimitroff, Quinn's former boss in New England, has done well with his two hires in Atlanta. Mike Smith posted a 66-46 record and won two division titles in seven seasons. Smith's replacement, Dan Quinn, led the team to the Super Bowl in his second season and has them in the divisional round again this season.