MIKE O'HARA

O'HARA: What we learned from offseason moves so far

Posted Feb 13, 2018

Mike O'Hara takes a look at what we learned from Matt Patricia's hiring and Bob Quinn's extension.

First the new head coach.

Then the general manager who hired him.

That was the order of contracts signed last week by the two men at the top of the Detroit Lions’ football operation.

It made sense on both sides – first with the hiring of new head coach Matt Patricia, who was introduced at a press conference on Wednesday, and next with GM Bob Quinn, whose contract extension was announced in a no-frills press release on Friday.

What we learned is that there is faith in how the football operation has been run under Quinn’s leadership, and there was a reward for that.

What we also learned includes: What the connection between Patricia and Quinn can mean in their working relationship; and a conversation with Patricia that shows what versatility means and how a coach never forgets details – as proven by a check of the facts.

Faith at the top: It’s not like I thought “what about Bob Quinn?” when the announcement was made that Patricia was hired or during his press conference. Contracts for general managers and other front-office executives don’t carry the same weight as for head coaches and players.

The extension for Quinn shows that ownership has a high degree of faith in him, based on his performance in the first two years.

It isn’t all based on the product on the field, either. There is work to be done there to elevate the team from its tantalizing 9-7 rut of the last two years to a legitimate championship contender.

It takes strong management and leadership to take that step. Quinn and Patricia under contract for matching terms provides stability. As Patricia begins his career as a head coach, the Lions have that.

Linkage: To repeat a phrase that has been used often in the last week, Quinn and Patricia have a philosophical alignment that was built during the 12 years they worked together in New England.

They both talked about the time they spent together in New England talking football and evaluating players, and how on their first day on the job together in Detroit it felt like they were back in their old offices.

The obvious value in any long-term relationship is the ability to see some issues through the same lens.

But the other side of that same relationship is being able to argue a difference in opinion based on details and issues, not personalities. Quinn and Patricia have the security to do that.

Coach on the run: Patricia touched on a lot of subjects in an interview session last week, and one revealed his memory for details – and the ability of an offense to adjust.

It was a story about a game the Patriots played against the Minnesota Vikings.

“We played Minnesota, in a Monday night game,” Patricia said. “They had the number one run defense in the league.”

What did the Patriots do? They went with a spread offense. Tom Brady passed for 345 yards and four TDs in a 31-7 victory.

Fact checking: Just to be sure that the coach wasn’t remembering something that never happened, here are the facts on that game:

Setting: It was, in fact, a Monday night road game against the Vikings in Week 8. Check.

Run stats: The Vikings, in fact, had the No. 1 defense against the rush that year – allowing an average of 61.6 yards a game on the ground. The Patriots ran only 15 times, but they gained 85 yards – an average of 5.67 yards per attempt with a long gain of 35 yards.

Patriots’ D: It intercepted three passes and held the Vikings without a touchdown. Their only TD was on a punt return.

Patricia’s role: He was in his third year with the Patriots and his first coaching the linebackers.

The year: The game was played in 2006. The Patriots have played 121 regular-season games and 26 in the playoffs – a total of 147 – and Patricia had detailed recall of that game.

He didn’t even have to look at the film.