Detroit Lions may have to change power structure to lure top coach, GM

Detroit Free Press

Dave Birkett
 
| Detroit Free Press

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Matt Patricia is gone. Bob Quinn, too.

What comes next, even Sheila Ford Hamp does not know, but Saturday’s firings of Patricia and Quinn could be the first step in a dramatic change to the way the Detroit Lions conduct football business.

Hamp said Saturday she has not defined yet what attributes she wants in the Lions’ next head coach and general manager, but she is open to every option when it comes to the structure of her team.

“We’re going to look at it all,” she said. “We haven’t made that decision yet. Some of it will probably have to do with the candidates we’re looking at and how that would play out, but we’re open. We have not set that.”

The Lions, historically, have empowered a general manager to make all football decisions, including the hiring and firing of head coaches.

Quinn hired Patricia in 2018, a month after he fired Jim Caldwell, and before Quinn, Martin Mayhew and Matt Millen were in charge of all football operations.

Millen bore the title of president and CEO, but he oversaw all draft decisions and coaching moves, while Mayhew was a more traditional GM paired with president Tom Lewand.

Some NFL teams have consolidated power in their coaches’ hands in recent years, with teams such as Washington (Ron Rivera) and the Carolina Panthers (Matt Rhule) joining the New England Patriots (Bill Belichick) and others in operating from the coach down.

While there will be intriguing candidates in both the coach and GM ranks this hiring cycle, competition for the top names will be fierce.

On NFL source told the Free Press on Saturday that he expects as many as eight head coach and eight GM vacancies to be filled this offseason, including the currently vacant GM job in Washington.

Earlier this year, the Houston Texans fired head coach and de facto GM Bill O’Brien, and the Atlanta Falcons fired coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff.

REPLACING PATRICIA:Top candidates for new Lions head coach

REPLACING QUINN: Top candidates for new Lions general manager

Like Rhule, who made the jump from Baylor to the NFL last season, some of this year’s top coaching candidates may require some type of personnel control — or a say in who the GM is – to come to the Lions.

Hamp said Lions president Rod Wood will remain in his current role. Wood’s primary responsibilities since joining the organization in 2015 have been on the business side, and the Lions’ interim front office — vice president of football administration Mike Disner, vice president of player personnel Kyle O’Brien, director of player personnel Lance Newmark and director of pro scouting Rob Lohman — will report to Wood.

“I have no plans to change what Rod is doing, but we’re looking at some organizational chart moves and it’s all going to be a part of this process,” Hamp said.

The Lions plan to use Len Perna and Turnkey Sports to help conduct their search, though Hamp said they will be “talking to a lot of people and using a lot of resources simultaneously.”

As for what she wants in her next hires, that is what she will spend the next few weeks figuring out.

“All that I promise you we are going to do an extremely thorough and comprehensive search for both positions,” she said. “Yes, we have some ideas on what we’re looking for, but again, not clearly defined. I have a feeling today you’re going to have a lot more questions than I’m going to have answers to.”

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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