Skip to main content

O'HARA: What we learned from Week 12

Like mother, like daughter.

That's what we learned about Detroit Lions principal owner Sheila Ford Hamp's management style, expectations and willingness to make changes when those expectations are not met.

In all those areas, and more, Hamp is like her mother, Martha Firestone Ford, whom she succeeded in June as the franchise's principal owner. Ford was quick to act when results did not meet her expectations, and her daughter showed similar traits by firing general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia with five games left in the season.

Among the other things we learned include the following: Quarterback Matthew Stafford's future with the Lions could rest in the hands of the next head coach; the Lions will use a search team to some degree to get candidates for the GM and head coach positions; Hamp is not blind to he team's won-loss record or the unhappiness of fans over the franchise's decline in the standings under the Quinn-Patricia tandem.

We start with the mother-daughter connection:

Hamp said in her press conference Saturday that she reached the breaking point with losses to the Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans in a five-day period.

The Lions were set up to get in position to make a playoff run by facing a Carolina team that had lost five straight games, and a Texans team that was 3-7 – with two of its wins over the Jaguars, who were 1-9 going into Sunday's games.

The Lions were beaten soundly by Carolina in being shut out for the first time since 2009. And after taking a 14-13 lead over Houston, the Lion were outscored 28-3 in what became a blowout loss. Worst of all, the game was on national television on Thanksgiving Day.

As Hamp said in her press conference, those two losses were the breaking point.

"It was a good time to make a change," she said.

This doesn't mean Hamp won't be her own person.

Her action is similar to what her mother did in 2015. Ford took over as principal owner in 2014 after the death of her husband, William Clay Ford.

After an 11-5 won-loss record in 2014, the Lions began 2015 with a 1-7 record. Loss number seven was a 45-10 wipeout to the Kansas City Chiefs in London on national TV.

With the Lions on their bye, Ford fired team president Tom Lewand and GM Martin Mayhew. Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi had already been relieved of his duties before the London trip.

The Lions responded with a 6-2 record in the second half of the season to finish a respectable 7-9, given their 1-7 start.

Quinn was hired in the GM search, and the Lions went 9-7 in what proved to be Jim Caldwell's last two seasons as head coach of the Lions.

Quinn's decision to hire Patricia proved to be disastrous.

It also showed that firing people is the easy part of the equation. Hiring the replacements – in this case, a GM and head coach – is the new challenge for Hamp.

Stafford: Hamp left open the possibility that Stafford could be moving on after his 12th season with the Lions, but it wasn't said with firm conviction.

"I think he's an exceptionally talented young man, and tough as nails," Hamp said. "It's been tough for him – again. I think the coaches will make that decision."

Hamp said the right things about Stafford, and also about what a new management team might want.

Search team: As Hamp said, the Lions will consider "all avenues" in hiring a new GM and head coach.

The search team collects the candidates. It doesn't hire them.

And the Lions, of course, are free to pursue their own candidates.

The record: The Lions' lack of success is not a secret. Any candidates are well aware of it, and they sign on with the intent of improving it.

"We can't hide our past," Hamp said. "I'm really dedicated to turning this ship around and really making a difference.

"Hopefully, we won't have to look back very much. We'll just look forward."

Related Content