Detroit – Before a crowd of the nearly 4,000, the Detroit Lions held their annual Season Ticket Member Summit at Ford Field on Monday. The event, hosted by play-by-play announcer Dan Miller, had general manager Bob Quinn, team president Rod Wood and coach Matt Patricia taking questions from the audience.
Here were some of the highlights from that Q&A:
■ The bond between coach and general manager was on display throughout the evening as Wood joked about it being the first time he sat between the two, since they always seemed to be together.
Quinn repeated a mantra he’s stated a number of times since being hired by the organization; that the relationship between the coach and GM is the most important in the organization, before adding, “I feel like we have the strongest one in the league.”
Quinn said after Patricia was hired in February, one of the first priorities were making sure the front office and coaching staff were on the same page about the type of players they wanted to bring in via the draft and free agency.
“Matt and I are going to be in lockstep about the kind of players, the kind of people that we want,” Quinn said.
Patricia said he's been working hard to familiarize himself the current roster, and while several of those evaluations were easy, there were about a dozen or so players he needed to study to see how they would fit into the schemes he wants to run in Detroit. That’s where he was able to lean on Quinn.
“Honestly, with Bob’s help, trusting his opinion and evaluation, knowing we look at players the same way, look at guys in the same light, how they’re used, their roles, Bob is familiar schematically what I do defensively and what I’ve done before. It was really an easy conversation,” Patricia said.
■ One player Quinn sought to sell Patricia on immediately was free agent defensive end Ziggy Ansah, who the team ending up franchise tagging.
“Ziggy was the No. 1 conversation,” Quinn said. “I had my thoughts and I wasn’t going to take long for me to show Matt to do what we did. To have an outside edge rusher who can be as dominant as Ziggy was really appealing to Matt. Matt has had a lot of great players in New England and I think Ziggy would rank right up there with some of the best edge players that Matt has ever coached. So we’re excited to get Ziggy into this new scheme.”
Ansah hasn’t signed the tag, and remained in his native country of Ghana for a family obligation while the team reported for voluntary workouts on Monday. But it didn’t sound like anyone was concerned about a potential holdout.
■ Wood announced the Lions had the NFL’s biggest year-over-year attendance increase last season, which included six standing-room-only games at Ford Field. He joked with Patricia that the goal was eight this upcoming season, which the coach quipped, “More than eight,” drawing a large cheer from the crowd.
The Lions have never hosted a home playoff game at Ford Field.
■ With the draft fast approaching, Quinn didn’t rule out trading out of the No. 20 spot, but said the team isn’t desperate to fill any holes after addressing their needs in free agency. The GM said his draft board is close to being set, but there will continue to be some tweaking in coming weeks as the team hosts its pre-draft visits, the coaching staff offers additional input and the final medical re-checks are done.
Quinn said he has a list of five or six players, in his mind, who will be options if the Lions stay at 20.
■ On last year’s first round pick, linebacker Jarrad Davis, Quinn said he was pleased how the player finished out his rookie season. He also said he’s gotten plenty of positive reviews on the selection while on the road doing prep work for the upcoming draft.
“We were on the scouting trail and numerous people, numerous coaches kind of pulled us aside and were raving about him a year removed from when we took him,” Quinn said. “I think in Matt’s scheme – Jarrad can play in any scheme – but his skill set is going to be exemplified in what we’re doing now.”
■ Quinn also raved about the addition of running back LeGarrette Blount, who the GM said didn’t want to leave his free-agent visit until he signed his contract.
“He came in and really wanted to be here,” Quinn said. “He was really, really excited about the direction of this team, direction of ownership, management with coach Patricia in the fold. We spent a long day negotiation and LG wouldn’t leave until he signed the contract. It was great day and we’re really excited about what he’s going to bring.”
Patricia reiterated the importance of improving offensive balance, but also said the Lions will always do what’s necessary to win – whether that means running the ball more or throwing most of a game. Specifically, talking about the ground game, it was noted the Lions’ attack will likely mirror the Patriots’ multi-faceted usage of their backfield options from week to week to take advantage of mismatches.
“Anything we do, we certainly don’t want to give our opponents any advantage,” Patricia said. “Again, we’re always going to try to work hard than them, we’re always going to try to come up with a scheme that gives us and advantage and puts our players in position to make plays. It’s not necessarily the Xs and Os, it’s who is the X and who is the O and what’s the matchup.”