Detroit Lions: Bob Quinn puts numbers to proverbial next step

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Bob Quinn made clear what wasn’t good enough for the Detroit Lions when he fired Jim Caldwell. Now he’s made clear where he wants the team to go.

When the Detroit Lions hired Bob Quinn to be their new general manager prior to the 2016 season, many thought the new GM would bring in a new head coach. Instead, Quinn stuck with Jim Caldwell, leading to a 9-7 record and a playoff berth in Quinn’s first year on the job. But after another 9-7 season, this time without a trip to the playoffs, Quinn decided it was time for a change.

He said there wasn’t really any one thing that prompted the change, but did cite being 9-7 two years in a row as well as a poor record against the better teams on the Lions’ schedule. In word and action, Quinn said that the results of the last two years weren’t good enough. But what is?

Every new general manager will undoubtedly talk about winning championships being the ultimate goal and Bob Quinn is no different. A few will realize the goal of a Super Bowl win but no one, not even the Patriots, get there every year. What constitutes “success” over a period of time is more nuanced.

Thanks to a radio appearance by Bob Quinn on WDFN with Matt Shepard this morning, we can take nuance off the table. Quinn not only defined what he considers to be mediocrity, he also defined more specifically where he expects the team to be on an annual basis.

"Mediocrity, I would say, is 8-8 or 9-7 in my world. And we’re not about mediocrity. When I got this job over two and half years ago I told the Fords I want to build a championship team here. To build a championship team you can’t go 9-7. At the bottom line in this business it’s wins and losses.…For us to take that step to the next level, whether it’s ten, 11, 12 wins and getting to a consistent playoff hunt every year, that’s what I want because I want to bring a championship to this city."

It’s probably no coincidence Quinn would use nine wins as the cutoff for mediocrity considering where he came from. The New England Patriots haven’t had fewer than ten wins since going 9-7 in 2002. That makes for 15 seasons in a row of ten or more wins for the Patriots.

Contrast that with the Lions who have just nine seasons of ten or more wins in their entire history in Detroit dating back to 1934 (add one to that total if you’re included to give the franchise credit for the performance of the 1931 Portsmouth Spartans).

Quinn isn’t on the hot seat considering he got a new contract extension to line up his contract with Matt Patricia’s but things could get uncomfortable for him if the Lions don’t put together a ten win season rather quickly. If it wasn’t clear that Quinn was drawing a line in the sand by firing Caldwell, his comments today should erase any doubt.

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Quinn has made his expectations clear and it would only be right to judge him by those same high expectations in the coming years. What Quinn has defined as mediocrity has been acceptable for much of the Lions’ history. His job is now not only to take his team to the next level, but to take the franchise as a whole to the next level.