Finally, with his man as head coach, Bob Quinn’s vision for the Detroit Lions is becoming more clear. That vision, build the deepest and most versatile team possible.
This is the first of a two-part series on Bob Quinn’s vision for the Detroit Lions and how it has taken shape so far. Quinn has been preparing for the 2018 season since the day he took the job. He’s been pitching Matt Patricia as head coach to Rod Wood for 2 years. Per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press:
“I had heard about Matt from Bob for two years before we had the chance to meet and as I think I told him recently, I think he undersold him, and he was selling him,” Wood said. “So I think the relationship is strong, the language they speak, the trust. The ability I think to build the team through kind of one long-term vision of what we’re going to be about and this is probably the first time I’ve sat between them since they’ve been in town. They’re together all the time.”
Quinn has always valued depth and versatility over other player traits. Just take a look at his three drafts and free agent signings. He rarely makes flashy picks or splash signings, rather opting for players that seem to underwhelm at the time. See Frank Ragnow.
One thing that really hurt the Lions last season was injuries. I get it, they are a part of football, every team deals with them. They used so many offensive line combinations they used throughout the season. It’s hard to open holes for running backs and protect the quarterback without continuity on the O Line.
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Take a look at some of the position groups that BQ has assembled for the 2018 season. The Lions have the most depth at offensive line, running back, and in the defensive backfield. When compared to the roster before Quinn took over, the change is impressive.
Building out team depth in the draft
Quinn has seemed to really focus on using the draft to build depth. Specifically in the later rounds where he has prioritized athletic profiles. It is a fantastic thing for a team when guys drafted both early and late can have success on the field.
One of the marks of a really deep team is continued success when starters go down.
Like Rod Wood said, Quinn has clearly been preparing to hire his guy since he stepped in the building. The number of scheme versatile and position versatile players the Lions have, one year removed from Teryl Austin’s system, shows it. In a system that relies on most of the players to do one thing great, defensive ends almost exclusively rushed the passer and defensive backs played mostly man coverage, he filled the roster with guys that can do multiple things and play multiple positions well.
The versatility Bob Quinn has built into the Lions’ roster is the key ingredient in their switching from a 4-3 to a multiple front defense.
Bob Quinn loves drafting versatile players
Just this year, he drafted Frank Ragnow, who projects just as well at center as he does at guard, Tracy Walker, who played almost every position on defense in his senior year, Da’Shawn Hand, who has enough athleticism and versatility to play all over the defensive line, and Tyrell Crosby, who played his college career at tackle and is projected by most as a guard.
What this means with Matt Patricia as Head Coach
The key to having a multiple scheme playbook with a 53-man roster is having players that can do different things well and play multiple positions. Since Bob Quinn has done this for a few years already, Patricia has inherited a team that can quickly make a scheme change.
Additionally, Patricia has inherited a team with a lot of talent. Generally, 9-7 teams don’t get a new head coach. Because of the work that Quinn has done gaining depth and versatility, the transition to a new coaching staff and scheme will be a smooth one.
Bob Quinn’s had three off-seasons to build a team, now with his man as head coach, the team looks vastly different.
Next time, we’ll take a look at the moves Quinn has made in free agency to build the depth and versatility of the Lions.