Lions general manager Bob Quinn was asked to evaluate Detroit's 2016 season during his end-of-the year press conference Thursday.
The Lions won nine games and made the playoffs, but Quinn was very clear that isn't good enough moving forward.
"We have a lot of work to do," he said. "I mean, we won nine games and lost eight, so we have a lot of work to do.
"I think the team that wins the Super Bowl this year, they're probably going to have upwards of 12, 13, 14 wins. We have a long way to go."
**What is one of the big priorities for Quinn and his staff this offseason?
Quinn said he learned a lot his first year on the job, particularly how to manage his time. He put together a new scouting department in his first year, a new weight staff and weight room, and added a team nutritionist among other things
He turns now to improving on some of the finer details this offseason.
"I think one thing that we're really going to work on is focusing on the details," he said. "I think we're in a much better spot this year going into the pre-draft and the pre-free agency time of year.
"I've had my staff in place here for close to a year now, so we feel like we're in a much better place in terms of the preparation. Now, a lot of the heavy lifting is still to come, but I feel like we're in a good spot in getting ready for the offseason."
Why did Quinn decide to retain head coach Jim Caldwell for a fourth season?
Caldwell has taken this team to the playoffs in two of his three seasons with the team.
Quinn also says he and Caldwell have a terrific working relationship. He even joked that the carpet from his office to Caldwell's office has been worn down by how often the two are walking back and forth.
"Jim is really very consistent and I really enjoyed working with him," Quinn said. "I really enjoy the day-to-day interactions that we have, which are multiple. It's a really great working relationship and I really have a great feel in being able to see him deal with the team. Starting back with the OTAs, into the season, training camp and it's a consistent message and I really think that's what you need as a head coach.
"You know, you can't have a head coach that's too high or too low. I really believe in his approach of managing the team, how he practices the team, how he maintains the health of the team, so listen, winning nine games is good, it's not good enough, but I felt really comfortable with the way things went this year and I'm looking forward to 2017 with Jim."
Why did this team fall short of its ultimate goal of winning a Super Bowl?
There are a number of reasons for that, but Quinn pointed to three areas in particular that Detroit has to improve right away.
"You look at the stats, you can go right to the league stats and say, 'Where did we finish in running?' I think it was what, 30th? 30th in the league in rushing? That's not good enough.
"Third down on defense I think wasn't at the top of the league, red zone. All those areas, like we have to improve on."
Speaking of the run game in particular, Quinn said in a recent SiriusXM NFL Radio interview that he'd certainly like to bolster that part of the offense. How does he go about accomplishing that?
It's not as simple as just drafting a premier running back or signing one in free agency.
"Yeah, I view the running game as the entire offense. Offensive line? Yes. Running backs? Yes. Fullbacks? Yes. Tight end? Yes. Wide receivers blocking in the running game? Absolutely," Quinn said.
"This isn't you pick one running back at the top of the draft and your running game is fixed, that's not how this league works. I think you can go back to the Cowboys, and everyone writes about their great offensive line and they have a great running back. Well, they also have a really good blocking tight end and they also have a pretty good fullback when he's in there. I think it takes 11 guys on the offensive side of the ball to run the football."
**How big of a loss was Ameer Abdullah to Detroit's run game?
It's pretty clear from Quinn's comments Thursday that Abdullah was going to have a big role before injuring his foot Week 2 and missing the rest of the season.
"It's frustrating when you sit in my seat that build a team and then you have your starting running back go down the second week of the season," Quinn said. "At the end of the season you look back and you say, 'Why didn't we run the ball?'
"We tried to improve the offensive line which I think we did to a degree. It's hard to replace one guy that you think is going to carry the ball for a couple hundred times a year when he's gone.
"We did our best and that's not an excuse because every team goes through injuries. My job is to replace those players if they go out and we have to do a better job."
Are Abdullah and Theo Riddick part of Quinn's plans moving forward?
The simple answer is yes. Abdullah's under contract for two more seasons, and Riddick is locked up through the 2019 season.
"Listen, I'm always looking to upgrade. That's what my job is, I think the players understand that," Quinn said. "I think the number of new players that we brought in this year and the number of guys we tried out and worked out, I think it was eye-opening to a lot of people.
"My eyes are always open, if we can get somebody better, then great. But, do I believe in Ameer and Theo and Zach (Zenner) and Dwayne Washington and Mike James? I do."
Is linebacker DeAndre Levy considered a key component of the defense moving forward?
Quinn thinks so. He said Levy hasn't given him any indication he's not 100 percent into football moving forward. Quinn thinks Levy can regain the form he showed in 2014 after suffering through injuries in 2015 and 2016 that limited him to just six games.
"I think he can be the same player he was a couple years ago," he said. "It looks like to me, he was getting healthier and healthier as the weeks went on when he came back. That's what we envision."
What is Quinn's evaluation of Marvin Jones Jr.'s first season in Detroit?
Jones was Quinn's first big free-agent signing after taking over the job in Detroit last January.
Jones finished with 55 receptions for 930 yards (16.9 average) and four touchdowns. Jones said after the season that his first year in Detroit wasn't good enough by his standards.
"We have high expectations for all our players," Quinn said. "I think Marvin had a good year. I'm kind of happy that he said that, that he's not satisfied with—what did he have 55 catches?
"So I'm happy that Marvin said that because I know what kind of guy he is and I know what kind of worker that he is and I'm sure – he's already been in here a little bit week. So I know he's going to be better than he was last year."