Brad Holmes conducted his first end-of-the-season press conference as Detroit's general manager Tuesday afternoon. Holmes touched on a number of topics ranging from head coach Dan Campbell's performance to player development to what he thought of his rookie class and the upcoming 2022 prospects.
Here are all the key questions from Holmes' presser in Allen Park:
Was the vision for how he wanted his first season in Detroit to go realized?
Holmes said he loved how the season ended, winning their last three home games and three of their last six overall, but he said the reality of winning three games is not good enough and never will be.
But he does like the way he and Campbell were aligned in their vision and plan for the team, and thought they laid a good foundation through player development, which Holmes said is always the most important component of their plan.
"What we were totally in line with is we're going to let these guys play," he said. "A lot of it was by circumstance, we didn't have a choice at certain times. We stuck with our plan and we let these young guys play and get valuable experience and at the end of the day we did lay a good foundation.
"It's hard to practice the patience at times to stick with the plan, but it's a multi-year plan for sustained success and I do believe we laid the foundation."
What did he think of Dan Campbell's first season as head coach?
"There's so many great things I can say about Dan, but I'll sum it up. He's got an it factor that you either have it or you don't, and he has that," Holmes said. "He's been a joy to work with."
Holmes liked how the team continued to play hard and respond to Campbell when things were looking pretty bleak midseason. He and Campbell are cut from the same cloth in terms of how to respond when adversity hits.
"It can be a tough loss on Sunday. I'm driving into work (Monday) saying, 'I can't wait to get started for this week.' Then I see Dan and Dan's like, 'we're about to score 30 points this week.' That's just how we are," Holmes said.
What about quarterback Jared Goff and the way he finished the 2022 season?
Goff played really well the second half of the season after some inconsistencies in the first half. After Campbell took over playing calling, tight ends coach Ben Johnson got more involved in the passing game and the receiver room really picked up their production, Goff played some good football down the stretch. He completed 67 percent of his passes with 11 touchdowns and only two interceptions with a passer rating north of 100.0 as he finished the year 3-2-1 in his final six starts.
"I can't say enough about his resiliency," Holmes said of Goff. "The mental toughness and the physical toughness and his resiliency. You talk about will, talk about grit, that's why he fit from the very get go."
Holmes loves how Goff stayed the course and when he got reinforcements he played good football the last half of the season. That gives him a lot of confidence at the position heading into 2022.
What is Holmes' priority heading into the offseason?
This is the "player acquisition phase" of Holmes' offseason playbook. He pointed to the Senior Bowl in a few weeks, in which the Lions are coaching one of the teams. It will be a great opportunity to get a leg up on the rest of the 30 teams by working with the prospects in the annual all-star game for senior college talent.
Holmes made the point that he and his staff are way ahead of where they were last year in their first season together. Things they were just getting started on last February, they've been plugging away at since early fall.
How impressed was Campbell with the season rookie wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown put together?
The fourth-round pick out of USC finished with 90 catches for 912 yards and five touchdowns to set the franchise record for rookie receiving yards. He finished the year with at least eight catches in the final six games. In 115 targets, St. Brown dropped only two passes.
"He's a culture fit for what we're all about," Holmes said. "I think everything just kind of clicked for him kind of late. But, we always knew he had the intangibles and work ethic and he's just a pros pro in the way that he's wired. That equated to a lot of his success on top of his physical ability."
Are there any difference makers available in this draft class for the second overall pick?
That will become clearer in a couple months after the Senior Bowl, NFL Scouting Combine and college pro days. There's still a lot of work to do leading into the draft.
"I think each draft is different. It truly is," Holmes said. "There are some drafts that are really, really top-heavy, some drafts are not. Some drafts are better or more heavy on day two. There are some that are more heavy on the backend.
"But I think all of that is being sorted out. Our personnel department's doing a heck of a job. I think they've pretty much seen everybody. We have a pretty good bite at it. But obviously, what we're about to embark on is going to provide a lot of clarity for those guys."
What are the strengths and areas that need improving on the roster heading into the offseason?
Holmes likes what the Lions have built along both their offensive and defensive lines. The offensive line is obviously a strength, and Holmes likes the depth they've assembled at nose tackle and defensive end. He also likes the running back room.
"But we can always get better at the perimeter positions on both sides of the ball," he said.
Two spots that jump out there are adding talent and depth at both wide receiver and safety.
Is there a different selling point now to attract free agents to Detroit?
"Hopefully the word will spread about what we're building here, and I think it's evident with the culture that we have in place ... hopefully that's evident that everybody's going to see that, and that word is going to go around about what we're all about.
"I think it's evident about how hard we play. We're a gritty group that play really, really hard. But we have an outstanding culture here, so hopefully that bodes well for us in free agency."