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Allen Park — When Bob Quinn took over as Detroit Lions general manager in Jan. 2016, the team was coming off a 7-9 season, but had won six of its final eight games the year before. 

Both the offense and defense had been middle-of-the-road units that previous season. But the offense, under coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, who had been promoted into the role midseason, appeared to be on an upward trajectory. 

More:Lions' Quinn doesn't plan on talking more in season

The Lions went 9-7 in each of Quinn's first two seasons at the helm, with both the offense and defense continuing to be part of the league's middle class. Only the scoring offense, which finished eighth in 2017, cracked the top-10, thanks in large part to outstanding starting field position from increased turnovers and quality special teams play. 

This past season proved little was sustainable and the Lions continued to lack an identity. In coach Matt Patricia's first year, the team ranked 25th in scoring and 16th in points allowed. 

So where does Quinn see improvement since he took the organization's reins? The GM focused on tough-to-evaluate intangibles. 

More: Lions placing premium on adding playmakers this offseason

“I think we’re a more physical team," Quinn said. "I think we have a much better and sound, fundamentally, defense, especially run defense. I think we play a physical brand of football, which before, I didn’t think that was the case my first year or two. I think this year, we drastically improved that. ...I think the same thing can be said for the offensive line and the running game. I know that part’s better."

Quinn had questioned his team's toughness the previous offseason and it's clear both he and Patricia have placed an emphasis on establishing a more physical brand of football in Detroit. 

On offense, despite a losing record, the Lions ran the ball more than 400 times for the first time since 2013 and averaged their most yards per carry since 2012.

"I think that’s something that we want to build this team around, because I think that lasts over the long haul," Quinn said. 

The same could probably be said for the defense. 

Early in the year, the team struggled to stop the run, but following the addition of Damon Harrison via trade, the Lions allowed opponents to gain just 3.6 yards per carry over the final 10 games. Only the New York Jets were better. 

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @justin_rogers

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