Bob Quinn

QB Notes: Hill, Stafford, Winston

Saints quarterback/athlete Taysom Hill has been the center of quite a bit of early offseason buzz. While the free-agent quarterback class is highlighted by the likes of Tom Brady and Drew Brees, a third-string quarterback, who threw just 14 passes last season, has dominated conversations. Hill has sparked a fervent debate around whether he has a future as a franchise quarterback, or is just a valuable weapon to deploy in certain packages. In an in-depth look at the situation, Katherine Terrell of The Athletic, dives into his circumstances and makes the case for Hill.

Here are some more quarterback notes from around the league:

  • Some early offseason murmurs suggested that Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford could be on the trade block. Detroit general manager Bob Quinn was quick to shoot down the reports. Of course, it would not be the first time a personnel official has denied a player’s availability before subsequently moving them. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press analyzes the decision from all angles to make the case in favor and against keeping Stafford.
  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports argues that the Buccaneers need to find a way to keep free-agent quarterback Jameis Winston. Winston, of course, became just the second quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions (joining Vinny Testaverde). There’s no denying that Winston has had his flashes on the field, but a history of off-field issues and a historic propensity for turnovers make the decision far from straight forward.

Lions To Retain Matt Patricia, GM Bob Quinn For 2020

2019 has obviously been a very disappointing season for the Lions, but they aren’t going to be shaking things up too much this offseason. Both head coach Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn will return next season, owner Martha Ford told reporters on Tuesday. Patricia is in his second year as head coach after previously serving as New England’s defensive coordinator. Quinn has been the GM since 2016, and also came over from the Patriots.

Feb 28, 2018; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia speaks to the media during the 2018 NFL Combine at the Indianapolis Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Ford also told reporters that the expectation is the Lions will compete for a playoff spot next year, essentially saying outright that a repeat performance won’t be tolerated. Ford also shot down rumors that the family was considering selling the team. All that being said, that doesn’t mean everybody is going to make it through. “Other staff changes are possible” still, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. The defense has been a glaring weakness, and it certainly wouldn’t be surprising if defensive Paul Pasqualoni found himself out of a job at the end of the season.

In recent weeks there had been a lot of speculation about Patricia’s job status and talk that he could get fired, but he never seemed too worried and now we know why. It seems likely that Patricia and Quinn’s futures will now be tied together, and if one of them is given the boot after next season then they both will be. Detroit got off to a hot start this season with a 2-0-1 record, but things fell apart rapidly.

They came within a play of beating the Chiefs and moving to 3-0-1 the following week, but came up short. A one-point loss to the Packers followed, and then things spiraled out of control. All told, they’ve now lost ten of their last 11 games. They’ve suffered a rash of injuries, most notably to quarterback Matthew Stafford. Stafford has missed the past six games, and they’ve now gone from Jeff Driskel to undrafted rookie David Blough under center.

Clearly ownership believes the injuries were to blame for the disaster of a season, and they’ll get at least one more chance to run it back. Fortunately for Quinn and Patricia, they’ll have a high draft pick at their disposal. There was a local media report that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos had interest in buying the Lions, but the franchise shot that down emphatically, per Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com.

“We’ve been approached about interest in buying the team, but there’s been no serious discussions,” team president Rod Wood said. “And the Ford family plans to own the team and there’s [succession] plans in place.” We heard last month that Bezos was interested in buying a team, but it apparently won’t be the Lions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Ebron, Lions, Renfrow

The Eric Ebron story took another twist this week, as his camp responded to the recent reports of disconnect between the tight end and the Colts. Soon after Ebron was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury, we heard that the Colts weren’t too happy with how everything played out. Indy’s head coach Frank Reich seemed to dispute Ebron’s account that the team was well-aware of his ankle issue, and said he had no idea anything was wrong. Ebron’s camp is now pushing back, with a source close to the UNC product telling Ian Rapoport of NFL Network that Reich “should not have been surprised” (Twitter link).

The source added that Ebron informed the Colts of his ankle issue prior to the season, and that he “took toradol shots for the injury before almost every game he played.” The implication from Indianapolis seemed to be that Ebron was essentially choosing to save himself for his impending free agency, and his camp obviously isn’t pleased with that narrative. As Stephen Holder of The Athletic summarizes in a tweet, this means that Reich is either “blatantly lying when he said he was blind sided,” or Ebron “was able to practice most of the season on a terribly painful ankle.” It’ll be interesting to see if this under the radar controversy impacts Ebron’s market this spring. The tenth overall pick of the 2014 draft had a huge first year in Indy, but had been a bit of a disappointment this season before going on IR. Given the sudden animosity between the two sides, it seems likely that he isn’t back with the Colts in 2020.

Here’s more from around the league on a quiet Saturday night:

  • It doesn’t look like Matthew Stafford is going to play for the Lions again in 2019, so his back injury is obviously legitimate. However, the league has taken issue with how Detroit went about reporting it. Stafford was a surprise scratch late in the week leading up to the team’s game against the Bears back on November 10th, and the league has determined the team was trying to gain a competitive advantage by being coy with the info. The league office has fined the organization $75K, head coach Matt Patricia $25K, and GM Bob Quinn $10K, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link).
  • When Raiders rookie receiver Hunter Renfrow went down with a rib injury and a punctured lung a couple of weeks ago, it initially looked like he’d miss the rest of the season. However, that might not be the case, per Scott Bair of NBC Sports. Renfrow hasn’t been placed on IR, and the team is holding out hope he’ll be able to return toward the end of the year. “We’re hopeful that he could return for the last game or two,” Oakland head coach Jon Gruden said, per Bair. Renfrow had really started to heat up before going down, so he would provide a big boost. The Raiders have gotten blown out in two straight games, but are still right in the thick of a very muddled AFC wildcard race at 6-6. Whether or not they’re still in the hunt for a playoff spot in the final week or two will likely determine whether or not they bring the Clemson product back.

Lions Notes: Patricia, Pasqualoni, Quinn

The Lions suffered a bad loss to the now 2-9 Redskins on Sunday, which has led to a great deal of speculation as to the future of the organization’s leaders. Here’s the latest from the Motor City:

  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports suggested that “there could be some changes afoot” if the Lions do not have a strong performance against the division-rival Bears on Thanksgiving (Twitter link via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press). La Canfora made those remarks during the CBS Postgame Show and did not elaborate, but it seems that a shakeup to head coach Matt Patricia‘s staff could be in the cards, even if Patricia himself is safe at least until the end of the 2019 season.
  • Speaking of Patricia, the second-year HC was oddly evasive when asked who was calling the defensive plays against the Redskins, as Birkett writes in a full-length piece. It appeared that Patricia was calling the plays, and though he gave defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni a vote of confidence as a play-caller last month, the head coach himself appears to have taken the reins and is simply trying to refrain from confirming that publicly. In any event, the defense — which has Patricia’s fingerprints all over it — ranks near the bottom of the league in most major categories, and that’s not a good omen for Patricia’s future.
  • The club may not fire the former Patriots DC during the season, as his players still seem to play hard for him and the roster has been hit hard by injury, but as Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com writes, Lions ownership has to consider all options this offseason. The team could fire Patricia, GM Bob Quinn, or both, as neither man has done much to inspire confidence that they are the right people to lead the Lions on a long-term basis.
  • Speculatively, given Pasqualoni’s apparently diminished role, the changes that La Canfora references above could mean that Pasqualoni is shown the door if the Lions fail to perform well against Chicago.
  • Though the Lions’ playoff hopes are long gone, QB Matthew Stafford still wants to return to the field this year.

Lions Unlikely To Sign Ansah To Long-Term Deal?

Some teams use the franchise tag to buy some time to negotiate with their players on a long-term deal. That doesn’t appear to be the case in Detroit with Ezekiel Ansah. Appearing on PFT Live, general manager Bob Quinn alluded to taking a wait-and-see approach with the fifth-year defensive end. 

“We’re hoping he stays healthy, has a productive year and we go from there,” Quinn said.

Quinn said it is about new head coach Matt Patricia being able to get to know Ansah through the off-season program before the team makes a decision about a long-term deal. The fact that Ansah has been inconsistent early in his career — sandwiching a pair of double-digit sack seasons in 2015 and 2017 with a two-sack campaign in 2016 — also surely factors into the decision to wait.

Though he wants Patricia to become familiar with the defensive end through the offseason program, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio also writes Ansah isn’t likely to attend the offseason program with a long-term deal.

The 2015 Pro Bowl selection has until July 16 to sign his franchise tender, which will pay him an expected $17.14MM.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions Sign GM Bob Quinn To Extension

The Lions made a big change on the sidelines this year, but they’re going to maintain stability in the front office. On Friday, the Lions announced an extension for GM Bob Quinn.

The contract extension for Bob is most deserving as he continues to lead and improve our football team,” team president Rod Wood said in a press release. “It is also important for our entire organization to ensure stability as we move forward with Matt as our new head coach working in partnership with Bob. Moreover, I greatly enjoy my relationship and partnership with Bob. We both look forward to a bright future for the Detroit Lions.”

The team did not disclose the exact terms of the deal, though the announcement says that “the extension matches the term of head coach Matt Patricia’s new deal with the team.” It is believed that Patricia’s deal goes through the 2022 season, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (on Twitter). This through-2022 timeline matches Matthew Stafford‘s extension as well.

Quinn, a longtime scout/exec for the Patriots, was hired as the Lions’ GM in January of 2016. He made his first official head-coaching hire this week in appointing Patricia to the post. Predecessor Martin Mayhew hired Jim Caldwell, with whom Quinn worked for two seasons before firing him after the 2017 campaign, but the Quinn/Patricia partnership will be the biggest chance yet to gauge the current exec’s imprint on the franchise.

The Lions now have their quarterback, HC and GM in place for the long haul and will begin work on crafting a strategy aimed at ending a lengthy drought. Detroit’s most recent playoff win came in Barry Sanders‘ third season, 1991. Caldwell’s teams twice made the playoffs, with the 2014 Lions’ effort in Dallas coming closer to victory than the ’16 version did in Seattle, but postseason advancement has eluded the franchise for a generation.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants, Lions Request To Interview Matt Patricia

Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia was expected to be one of the most highly sought after names in coaching entering 2018. It didn’t take long for that to come to fruition, as the Giants (Twitter link) and Lions (Twitter link) have both submitted requests to interview the Patriots defensive coordinator for their head-coaching vacancies, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports. Matt Patricia (vertical)

Patricia was also highly coveted entering the 2017 season, with the Rams and Chargers both requesting to interview the 43-year-old coach before going their separate ways.

After spending time as a graduate assistant at Syracuse, Patricia joined the Patriots in 2004 as an offensive assistant. The following year he served as an assistant offensive line coach before making the switch to the defensive side of the ball. He was elevated to defensive coordinator in 2012 and has won two Super Bowls with New England in the six years since.

Though the Giants’ opening is noted as Patricia’s potential landing spot by Schefter, the coach also has ties to Detroit. The Lions general manager Bob Quinn spent more than a decade in New England as scout and in the front office more moving to Detroit in 2016. He is said to be interested in several other Patriots names like Josh McDaniels and former linebacker Mike Vrabel.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions Fire Head Coach Jim Caldwell

A day after defeating the Packers, 35-11, to cap their third winning campaign in four seasons, the Lions fired head coach Jim Caldwell, reports NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link). Jim Caldwell (Vertical)

Caldwell twice led the team to the postseason, the most playoff trips by a Detroit coach since Bobby Ross in the late-1990s. Despite the regular-season success, Caldwell could not deliver a postseason victory, something that has eluded the Lions for 25 years.

Rapoport also reports (Twitter link) the team is expected to interview highly sought after Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia for the vacant head-coaching position. He also notes Lions general manager Bob Quinn’s New England ties will help in the team’s pursuit of Patricia. Before ascending to GM in Detroit, Quinn spent 15 years in New England as a scout and director of player personnel.

The 62-year-old Caldwell has delivered winning campaigns in five of his eight seasons as a head coach and advanced to the Super Bowl with the Colts. His winning percentage of .562 as Lions head coach is the highest of any full-time coach of the franchise for more than one season since Buddy Parker recorded a 47-23-2 mark and a .671 winning percentage in the 1950s.

The dismissal ends longtime speculation over the future of Caldwell in Detroit. After losing his last three regular-season games and the team’s wildcard matchup with Seattle in 2017, Caldwell was retained and given a contract extension. The terms of the deal, however, were not made available immediately and it was later discovered the extension only covered him through the 2018 campaign.

Instead of firing Caldwell, the team hired Quinn to replace former GM Martin Mayhew. With Caldwell now gone, Quinn is set to hire his first head coach on the job.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Saints, Cards, Seahawks, Packers

With just one year and $3.5MM guaranteed on his Saints contract, Adrian Peterson is far removed from those lavish salaries he collected in his final years with the Vikings. However, the relocated running back can collect some additional cash via incentives — some of which being attached to reasonable figures. The future Hall of Fame back has $2.75MM in incentives tied to various milestones in each of the next two years, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets. The 32-year-old running back can collect incentive cash by rushing for 750 yards, scoring at least six touchdowns, or the Saints making the playoffs. Volin doesn’t specify how much each milestone would pay out, but these aren’t outrageous numbers. Peterson scored at least 10 touchdowns in all eight of his seasons that didn’t involve a major September setback. However, with Mark Ingram in the picture, there won’t be as many TD opportunities. Ingram has scored 25 touchdowns over the past three seasons.

Additionally, Volin notes a $750K roster bonus will be tied to Peterson’s 2018 New Orleans employment. That’s rather light compared to the massive $18MM option that was tied to the 2017 season on Peterson’s Vikings contract. But a Saints return in what would be Peterson’s age-33 season in ’18 likely hinges on the running back’s health.

Here’s the latest out of the NFC.

  • The Cardinals are following through with their idea to flip their starting tackles. Jared Veldheer will move to right tackle, while third-year man D.J. Humphries‘ future will be on the left side. Veldheer initially voiced opposition to the move, one broached by OC Harold Goodwin, immediately after the 2016 season concluded, Kyle Odegard of AZCardinals.com notes. But the career left tackle is on board now. Humphries played left tackle at Florida and parlayed that performance into a first-round Cardinals draft selection in 2015.
  • Packers rookie linebacker Vince Biegel broke his foot, and the ensuing surgery leaves him questionable to be ready by the start of training camp, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter and Rob Demovsky report. The intent of this operation, done last week, was to repair a Jones fracture that also plagued him last season at Wisconsin, Demovsky writes. The latest in a slew of mid-round Packers ‘backer picks, hasn’t had a smooth transition into the NFL. A hand injury briefly sidelined him at rookie camp last weekend.
  • Speaking of positioning, the Saints sound like they might be willing to try Stephone Anthony at middle linebacker again. The Saints moved their underwhelming 2015 first-rounder to the strong side last year, but new linebackers coach Mike Nolan said middle ‘backer suits Anthony best, Herbie Teope of NOLA.com notes. Anthony led the Saints in tackles as a rookie but was moved outside and then benched in 2016. And New Orleans added inside linebackers in Manti Te’o and A.J. Klein this offseason, complicating Anthony’s path back to playing time.
  • The Seahawks used a sixth-round pick on Cincinnati safety Mike Tyson, but those rooting for the menacingly named defender to double as a hard-hitting back-line option in the Legion of Boom may be disappointed. Tyson was practicing at cornerback during the Seahawks’ rookie minicamp, according to Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com. Although, the 6-foot-2 defensive back drew a Byron Maxwell comparison from Pete Carroll, so that’s a good start for a player who might be changing positions.
  • The Lions‘ second-round Teez Tabor investment came after GM Bob Quinn watched more film on the Florida corner than he has on any prospect during his 15-year evaluation career, Nate Atkins of MLive.com notes. The second-year Detroit GM estimated he watched about 14 Gators games with the primary purpose to see if Tabor played faster than his 4.62-second 40-yard dash clocking.

NFC Coaching Notes: Panthers, Rams, Redskins, Lions

The Panthers have officially named Steve Wilks as their new defensive coordinator. Following the loss of former defensive coordinator Sean McDermott earlier this week, it was reported that the team was planning on promoting their assistant head coach/secondary coach to the open position. Wilks joined the Panthers organization in 2012.

The new defensive coordinator held a press conference earlier today, where he revealed that he’d be retaining his entire defensive coaching staff (via Joe Person of The Charlotte Observer on Twitter). The team still needs to hire a secondary coach following the promotion of Wilks.

Let’s take a look at some more coaching notes from the NFC…

  • The Rams are expected to keep special teams coach John Fassel, reports Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News (via Twitter). Fassel has been with the organization since 2012, and he served as the Rams’ interim head coach following the firing of Jeff Fisher.
  • The Redskins may have lost offensive coordinator Sean McVay, but they’re not planning on losing anyone else on their offensive staff. The Redskins are expected to retain all of their offensive assistant coaches, reports ESPN.com’s John Keim. Following the Ramshiring of Wade Phillips as their defensive coordinator, there were rumors that tight ends coach Wes Phillips may leave to join McVay and his dad in Los Angeles. However, Keim notes that the Rams would have to request an interview with anyone on the Redskins coaching staff.
  • The decision to retain head coach Jim Caldwell was made before the Lions clinched a playoff berth, general manager Bob Quinn told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “I really believe in his approach to managing the team, how he practices the team, how he maintains the health of the team,” Quinn said. “So, listen, winning nine games is good. It’s not good enough. But I felt really comfortable with the way things went this year. I’m looking forward to 2017 with Jim.”
  • The Eagles are interested in interviewing Rams passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach Mike Groh for their wide receivers coach vacancy, reports ESPN.com’s Adam Caplan (via Twitter). The former quarterback coached the Bears wideouts for three seasons before joining the Rams last year.