Detroit Lions GM Brad Holmes: This will be a retooling, not a long-term rebuild

Detroit Free Press

Carlos Monarrez
| Detroit Free Press

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Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes indicated he does not see this team as a long-term project, and preferred to call the work ahead a retooling instead of a rebuild during his introductory news conference Tuesday.

“Definitely when you get into the offseason,” Holmes said during a video conference call, “I think every franchise, every team, will look at the areas that they might need some let’s say retooling at and just some areas that need to be addressed.

“But the ultimate goal is to make sure that the most competitive team is on the field and that starts right this year entering the 2021 season. So not viewing this as ‘oh, this will be a long-term,’ I don’t know how long it’s going to take. That’s not the approach, that’s not the mindset going into it. The approach is to make sure that we can put the most competitive team possible team out there on the field  in 2021.”

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Holmes, 41, takes over a team that has finished last in the NFC North three straights seasons and hasn’t made the playoffs since 2016. He was hired Thursday after serving as the Los Angeles Rams’ director of college scouting. Before Holmes spoke, owner Sheila Ford Hamp told reporters the team’s leadership decision to hire Holmes was a “unanimous.”

Hamp did not take questions about the Lions’ potential head coaching candidates — the Lions are expected to hire Dan Campbell this week. But Holmes did speak at length about the qualities he prefers in a head coach.

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“I’ve always had in my mind when I’ve looked at a head coach, I never had a preference of ‘he’s going to be an offensive coach, he’s got to be a defensive coach, he’s got to come from, he’s got to run this system, he’s got to run that system,’ ” he said. “My No. 1 core trait was first of all he’s got to be a leader of men. He’s got to be a leader of men, he’s got to have presence and within that presence, he’s got to have poise, he has to have confidence, he has to have command, he has to have mental toughness, he has to have intelligence.

“And I stress the mental toughness part because there will be ups and downs where that stress tolerance has to be at the right level to be able to persevere through those moments. So those are some of the tenets. A strong passion to develop. I just know that we’ll be aggressive through all avenues of player acquisition. But let’s just be honest, I come from the college draft background and I look forward to building this team through the draft. So if it is a young team, I want to make sure that the head coach has a strong passion, with his assistants to have a strong passion, to develop the players.”

One of the biggest roster questions facing Holmes and the new coach will be what do with quarterback Matthew Stafford, who turns 33 in February. Holmes didn’t get into specifics about his potential plans for Stafford, but indicated the evaluation of Stafford’s future would work holistically with the construction of the entire roster.

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“So Matthew, great player,” Holmes said. “And what you really appreciate is I think the talent level is easy to see, but you really appreciate how his intangibles show on film, just how encouraging he plays, how competitive he is, the toughness that he shows.

“But it is my job evaluate the entire roster. And through that process I have not had any discussions with Matt or any players for that matter. So I just want to be fair to the process to make sure we evaluate that thoroughly. But obviously, Matt, very good football player.”

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

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