Detroit Lions president Rod Wood, general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia answered questions from fans for an hour Monday night at the annual Season Ticket Member Summit at Ford Field.
Here are some of the key questions that developed:
What are some reasons for Lions fans to be optimistic after a 6-10 season?
This one was brought up by Wood in his opening comments. He mentioned the improvements we saw last year, especially the second half of the season with the defense, and also the improvements in the run game. Rookie running back Kerryon Johnson was second in the NFL in yards per carry average (5.4) and rushed for more than 100 yards twice, breaking a nearly five-year streak without a 100-yard rusher.
He also talked about beating the Super Bowl champion Patriots, the Packers (twice) and going on the road in Miami and beating the Dolphins -- Wins against good teams to build off. Wood also pointed out they have the most cap space heading into any offseason since he’s been president, and they have nine draft picks to work with.
Why did Patricia feel a change was needed on offense at the coordinator spot?
Patricia liked the improvements made on that side of the ball to the run game this past season, but he just felt a change was needed to play better complementary football. He has a ton of respect for new coordinator Darrell Bevell in that regard.
“I just think that was a really good move for us,” he said. “I think it’ll help us push the offense in a direction where we do need to be a little bit more ball control at times. We need to understand how to play a complementary game in all three phases, which is what we’re doing right now ... and we do understand we have to go out and acquire some more talent and help us out from a skill set standpoint.”
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What is Quinn’s strategy heading into free agency?
Quinn doubled down on his comments right after the season about needing playmakers, but really seemed to focus on the defensive side of the ball with his comments Monday night.
The Lions had only 14 takeaways all season, the second fewest in the NFL, and Quinn said he wants to acquire more players that can turn the ball over and make game-changing plays.
Quinn specifically mentioned players they evaluate who make plays in critical moments on third down and in the red zone.
It's something to look out for when free agency starts.
Would the Lions consider taking a quarterback with the No. 8 pick?
“We’ll consider taking any position in the draft at any point in time,” Quinn said.
Some of that might be keeping all options open in terms of any potential trades and movement, but Quinn said the whole draft board is open to them at the No. 8 pick and they won’t eliminate any prospects like they may have in previous years drafting a little further down the draft.
“If there’s a quarterback out there that we deem could help us this year or in the future, we’ll never close the door on that,” Quinn said.
What is the plan for bolstering the tight end position?
Quinn said boosting the talent and depth at the tight end position is a priority.
The good news in that regard is he really likes this tight end draft class, especially the underclassmen.
The Lions’ leading tight end last season, Levine Toilolo, had just 21 receptions.
“You read our needs correctly,” Quinn said to the person who asked the question about improving the tight end position.
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How does Patricia plan to keep building a winning culture?
He said it starts by building from the ball out, and being strong in all areas. He thinks he’s making great strides in that regard with some of the acquisitions they’ve made in the last 12 months.
Patricia said it takes everyone buying into the process, and that will lead to more consistency week to week, which is the final piece of the puzzle.
Did the Lions consider signing running back Kareem Hunt?
“We consider everybody that’s available,” Quinn said. “Obviously when that player was released towards the end of the season, every team in the league had the opportunity to claim him, number one, and it would actually (have been) on a cheaper contract than he signed today.
“We evaluate every player on the field and off the field, and in this case, you know, we talked about it internally and it was just a player that we didn’t feel comfortable bringing to the Lions for numerous issues. And I stand by that. That’s my word. I want good players and I want good people in this organization.”
Would the Lions consider starring on Hard Knocks?
Let’s just say they aren’t too keen to get on the HBO show.
“I think Jon Gruden is an excellent choice for that show,” Patricia said with a smile. “I think the Oakland Raiders and everything they have going on right now would be fantastic viewing for everyone.”
Quinn said he actually has someone in his scouting department tape and watch the show to try and learn a little something from a personnel move or chatter about scheme they can take and use to their advantage. It’s something he says many teams do.
“Is it going to be a matter of a win or loss? I’m not sure.” Quinn said. “But we take the stuff we do behind our doors pretty privately and pretty securely, so that’s definitely something that’s a factor.”