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O'HARA: Bob Quinn represents a new approach

Right from the start, and right at the top of the organization, Bob Quinn's resume and background with the New England Patriots stood out with two key qualities when the Detroit Lions were looking to hire the general manager that they hope will build a consistent winner.

Quinn represented a fresh face and new approach, and he came from a winning background.

After decades of promoting from within and falling short of the results they wanted, Quinn became an attractive candidate in the Lions' two-month search process.

Quinn, introduced Monday at a press conference at the franchise's Allen Park headquarters, had spent his entire 16 seasons in the NFL as a scout or player personnel executive with the Patriots, perhaps the most successful franchise in any North American team sport.

In New England, winning the Super Bowl has been the only goal for a franchise that has had 15 consecutive winning seasons and owns four Lombardi Trophies under the driving force of head coach Bill Belichick.

"I just thought we needed a fresh start," Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford said Monday in a brief session with the media.

"I'm very excited to have him. I'm sure he'll do a great job. I just know I'm hiring a winner."

There was no mandate to hire an outsider, but it began to carry weight as the search process continued, Lions president Rod Wood said Monday.

"I think it became important once we started meeting the candidates," Wood said. "There are a lot of different ways to run an organization."

One man's opinion  -- and Ford and Wood did not say it expressly: the old Lions' way of running a football team by people who'd come up through their management pipeline hadn't worked for any sustainable period. Why not hunt for a new face, with different experiences?

Whether Quinn proves to be the right choice will be proven over a period of time, but he faces an immediate major decision on whether to retain Jim Caldwell as head coach. That decision – keep Caldwell, or fire him and bring in his own man – will set the course for the start of Quinn's tenure in Detroit.

The head coach decision is firmly within Quinn's domain, even with the strong feelings Ford has expressed for Caldwell. It has a spinoff effect. Firing Caldwell would mean bringing in a new head coach, with new coordinators to run new systems on offense and defense.

Caldwell and Quinn were introduced briefly for the first time Monday, but Quinn said that he did not expect they would have a meeting later Monday. The timetable of the day's events – a long press conference, attended by several of Quinn's family members who came in from out of town – made it likely that the first substantive talks will be Tuesday at the earliest.

"That's something that's definitely going to be happening sooner rather than later," Quinn said. "This decision will be mine and mine alone."

Based on Quinn's comments Monday, there is no quarterback search. Matthew Stafford's future in Detroit is secure in Quinn's mind.

"He's a good quarterback," Quinn said. "I think he's the quarterback that we want here for the future."

But there are personnel issues facing Quinn other than the identity of the starting quarterback. As he made the rounds in his various media sessions Monday, it was obvious that Quinn has more than a cursory knowledge of the roster.

He did not specify individual players or position groups, but his reference to overall lack of depth indicated that the roster needs to be built up because of unproductive draft picks in recent years. That isn't exactly a news flash.

"I think one of the deficiencies is overall depth," Quinn said. "We have some talented players at the top of the roster. One of the deficiencies is the middle class."

Quinn is stepping into new territory, and higher ground, as GM of the Lions. In New England he was an advisor and talent evaluator, not a decision-maker.

As Quinn said, "Coach Belichick makes all the decisions."

Belichick is known to be demanding, and with high standards. Working in that environment for 16 years should prepare Quinn to face a Lions fan base that wants results from whoever manages, coaches or plays for the Lions.

"When you sit in a meeting with Coach Belichick," Quinn said, "you learn to get tough skin real quick."

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