During what has seemed to become a year of change in the NFL, many teams have decided the time is now for organizational changes. One of those teams is the Detroit Lions.
NEW GENERAL MANAGER
The first big change came on Jan. 14, when the Lions officially announced the new general manager, former Rams director of college scouting, Brad Holmes.
“It’s an honor to be a part of the Lions family.” Holmes said in an interview with Lions Multimedia Journalist Tori Petry. “I’m very excited to get started. I couldn’t be happier to be a part of the Lions organization.”
While there were many other experienced options available, such as Thomas Dimitroff, who served as GM for 12 years with the Atlanta Falcons, the Lions believed the less experienced Holmes was the man for the job.
“When we interviewed Brad, he stood out to us as the perfect fit for the general manager we were looking for.” Owner Sheila Ford-Hamp said in Holmes’ introductory press conference. “He was our unanimous choice. Brad Holmes is a winner.”
Holmes, 41, began his executive career after joining the Rams in 2003. Starting out in public relations, he was recognized internally as having potential in his true passion: scouting.
With the help of former Rams running back coach, Wilbert Montgomery, Holmes was moved to the scouting department. Throughout the next 17 years, Holmes excelled his way from a simple intern to the Rams lead director of college scouting.
Holmes helped draft some of the most influential players on the 2019 Rams Super Bowl team despite their quoted negative outlooks, like 2017 3rd round pick Cooper Kupp, who was seen as a “small-school” and “slow” wide receiver, 2015 1st round pick Todd Gurley, who was considered “an in-efficient blocker” and “injury prone”, and Aaron Donald, an “undersized” defensive tackle taken 14th overall in 2014.
“He’s got such a great feel for the players and the work he does specific to college scouting,” McVay said. “Then he’s got the humility where he’s always trying to learn more about the game. He was always asking so many good questions to just get better at his craft.”
According to the Pro Football Reference, Holmes is the 13th general manager in franchise history and will be looking to provide leadership to turn the Lions franchise around.
NEW HEAD COACH
One day after the introductory press conference for the new general manager, Detroit announced their head coach vacancy was now filled. Dan Campbell, 44, who previously worked as an assistant to head coach Sean Payton in New Orleans, signed a six-year contract to become the next Lions “skipper.”
“I’m excited to be here beyond belief,” Campbell said in his introductory press conference.
Campbell has over 22 years of experience in the NFL, including 11 years as a coach and 11 years as a player. Three of those playing years were spent with the Lions from 2006-2008.
“We’re going to put Motown back on the map,” Campbell said to the fans via social media. “I’m ready to get going.”
Despite only 12 games of experience as an interim head coach with the Dolphins, Lions President and CEO Rod Wood believes Campbell can get the job done.
“It was imperative that we find the right leader who values our commitment to building a winning culture based on the organizational alignment and collaboration.” Wood said. “The leadership Dan has exemplified throughout his football career has prepared him for this next step.”
As a former NFL tight end, Campbell has coached and developed many successful tight ends, like two-time pro bowler Jared Cook, Cardinals starter Dan Arnold and 2014 NFL Top 100 nominee Charles Clay in Miami. In an interview with Sean Payton after hiring Campbell back in 2015, Payton quoted him as being a “great teacher” and “team-guy.”
Campbell’s coaching brings exciting potential not only for young star tight end, T.J. Hockenson, but a passionate city waiting for the rise to success again.
THREE THINGS TO EXPECT
For Lions fans, change has been anticipated for some time coming. Now that changes have finally been made, what should fans expect from this new team?
The first thing is more overall leadership.
Unlike Patricia and Quinn, the newly hired staff are not exclusive “playbook or executive gurus.” Instead, Holmes and Campbell have been noted several times as being natural-born leaders. Both men were highly regarded for being able to bring motivation, determination, and passion for the game to a high level. There is no question in this time of change, Hamp, Wood, and the Lions organization believe in their new hires to step up, work together, and put the puzzle pieces together for the organization’s big picture.
The second is an increase in player development.
Detroit has struggled in years past with consistently finding, developing, and keeping young talent. While there have some recent draft successes, like Kenny Golladay and Frank Ragnow, there have also been some comparative busts like Teez Tabor, Jake Rudock, Michael Roberts, and Jason Huntley. Brad Holmes is an exquisite mind for the next best players that can make an immediate impact. Pairing his elite scouting ability with the coaching development skills of Dan Campbell can bring young players an opportunity to reach full potential in “Motown.”
A third expectation is a change of philosophy.
With Campbell signing a six-year deal, he will want to hire his coaches he believes he can create the best team possible for his initial tenure. With former Lions offensive coordinator Darren Bevell joining Urban Meyer in Jacksonville, as well as defensive coordinator Cory Udlin being replaced by former Saints defensive backs coach Aaron Glenn, the 2021 Detroit Lions will likely look different schematically than years past. Will this mean more zone coverage? Spread offense? Aggressive style? These questions will be determined by the collaborative group of coaches put together by Campbell this offseason.