This has already been the busiest offseason for the Detroit Lions in my lifetime. And we’re not even close to hitting free agency or the draft yet.
On the field, the Lions will have a new quarterback, mostly new receivers, and hopefully a mostly new defense in the upcoming season. Behind the scenes, the previous month has been a constant storm of incoming coaching and front office hires almost unheard of in Lions history in terms of their credibility and name recognition.
Some of these moves thrill me more than others, but the overall feeling I get from the flood of recent hires is that the Lions will have a lot of competent football minds collaborating in 2021 and beyond. Probably more at once than at any point since the Fords took ownership of the team.
Is that a guarantee for a sudden windfall of championships in the next five years? Of course not. Does it mean that the inevitable growing pains for the 2021 season will be any less harsh? Maybe, but probably not.
But what it does mean is that the Lions appear to be moving in the right direction from an organizational standpoint, setting the foundation for a culture that’s rooted in Detroit toughness and undisputed football lifers making the football decisions. Coming from decades of mismanagement and unqualified leaders, then a woeful attempt at co-opting another team’s culture on the most recent regime, this in itself is a very encouraging sign.
Here are my Power Rankings of the Lions’ biggest coaching and front office moves from this offseason. I ordered this list by my excitement level in having each of them in Detroit, along with my reasoning for each placement.
Detroit Lions: Coaching and Front Office Power Rankings
Moves that I love …
1. Brad Holmes, General Manager
I’ll freely admit that I knew nothing about Holmes on the way in, but he won me over in a hurry. After just a month on the job, the new GM is making the types of daring and forward-thinking decisions that we haven’t seen in Detroit in a very long time.
First off, Holmes deserves about a 105 out of 100 score for the manner in which he pulled off the Matthew Stafford trade. He not only did right by our now ex-franchise quarterback, but he managed a return on the trade that far exceeded the expectations of even the most optimistic fans going into it.
There was genuine debate of whether Stafford would fetch a single first-round pick. By operating early (several weeks ahead of the other teams shopping their QBs), Holmes essentially got to set his price for Stafford and ended up with not one but two future first-round picks, a mid-round pick for this draft, and a new starting quarterback who is younger and arguably more accomplished than Stafford. I’m still stunned at how well this deal was done from the Lions’ side of the table.
Maybe even more importantly, Holmes is gathering up a surprising array of well-known and well-respected guys to fill in the remaining coaching and front office openings. When it comes to people who are overqualified vs underqualified to do their roles, the Lions have found themselves on the wrong side way too many times. That will not be the case for the majority of the staff in Motown next season, and Holmes’s ability to lure candidates to the coordinator and position coach slots who have plenty of other options has been a huge plus.