Why Detroit Lions’ hiring of Brad Holmes as GM is another fail for the franchise

Detroit Free Press

Carlos Monarrez
 
| Detroit Free Press

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Free Press sports writer Carlos Monarrez answers three questions about the Detroit Lions’ hiring of Los Angeles Rams college scouting director Brad Holmes as their general manager.

What does the hiring of Brad Holmes say about the Lions?

This is a fail on the Lions’ part. As I wrote last week, the only home run hires would have been John Schneider of the Seattle Seahawks and Kevin Colbert of the Pittsburgh Steelers, two current general managers who have a strong history of proven success. Instead, they completely struck out (due in part to Schneider signing an extension); any candidate besides Colbert or Schneider is a gamble.

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But this is the Lions’ strategy apparently, now that they’re hiring their fourth straight general manager with no previous GM experience. We may never know how strong or serious the Lions’ interest was in Schneider or Colbert. But the fact they never even seemed close to hiring either elite candidate says a lot about the organization’s inability to hire and attract the NFL’s most accomplished candidates. 

What’s your biggest concern about Holmes?

I have several, but my main concern is how low he ranked on the Los Angeles organizational chart as their college scouting director. He was listed five spots below GM Les Snead. There’s no doubt Holmes has been a valuable contributor to the Rams’ front office. He played a part in drafting Aaron Donald and he’s often described as one of Snead’s trusted lieutenants. But someone that far down the org chart hasn’t been close to guiding the direction of an entire franchise. Even Bob Quinn, when he was the director of pro scouting for the New England Patriots, was only two or three spots down the ladder from Bill Belichick. Other GM candidates the Lions interviewed — Indianapolis Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds, Minnesota Vikings assistant GM George Paton and New Orleans Saints assistant GMs Jeff Ireland and Terry Fontenot — were directly behind the GM in their teams’ hierarchy.

How will this impact the Lions’ coaching hire?

I’m worried. The Lions said they preferred previous experience in either position, which means they might do something like hire Marvin “0-7 in the playoffs” Lewis. Put me in the Never Lewis camp. At best, Lewis can boast four AFC North division titles, but at 62 he would only be a stopgap hire to guide Holmes. Besides Lewis, the only other potential Lions candidate with previous head coaching experience is Saints assistant head coach Dan Campbell, who went 5-7 as the Miami Dolphins’ interim head coach in 2015. But neither Lewis nor Campbell has the qualifications to say he knows how to build a winner. As limiting as the Lewis and Campbell options are, at least the Lions can find out how they ran their teams as head coaches. Everyone else on the list, like Robert Saleh or Eric Bieniemy, would come into the job with no head coaching experience.

Contact Carlos Monarrez at cmonarrez@freepress.com and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.

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