Lions GM Quinn: Stafford is our quarterback
ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — Bob Quinn had a lot to answer for during a rare news conference.
The Detroit general manager spoke for over 40 minutes Friday, recapping a disappointing season in which the Lions went 6-10. A year ago around this time, Detroit fired coach Jim Caldwell after back-to-back 9-7 campaigns. Quinn said then he felt the team was capable of more, but the Lions struggled from the start in 2018 under new coach Matt Patricia.
“Disappointing season for us overall, on the whole. All of us kind of had high expectations going into this year,” Quinn said. “My position as the general manager here, I’m accountable, I’m responsible. I put this team together, and I feel like we have a good team. We didn’t win as much as we should have this year.”
Quinn said in no uncertain terms that he has confidence in quarterback Matthew Stafford, whose future with Detroit has been the subject of some speculation after he threw for 3,777 yards this season, his lowest total since 2010. Quinn said he feels the Lions can win a Super Bowl with him.
“Matthew Stafford’s our quarterback. He will be our quarterback here,” Quinn said. “This guy’s a really talented player, and myself, the coaches need to put him in better situations.”
Stafford turns 31 next month and just finished his 10th season with the Lions, who drafted him with the first overall pick in 2009. He threw four interceptions in an opening-game loss to the New York Jets that set the tone for the season.
Quinn takes questions from reporters so infrequently that on Friday he still faced queries about issues that came up before the start of the season. In May, the Detroit News reported that Patricia and a friend were indicted 22 years earlier by a Texas grand jury on one count each of aggravated sexual assault. The accuser did not testify and the case was dismissed.
Patricia maintained his innocence in a news conference after that report. Quinn was at that news conference but did not speak. On Friday, Quinn said he found out about the allegations not long before the report.
“I first found out about it a couple days before the article came out,” Quinn said. “Matt had got wind that the article was going to come out and came and told me. So we had extensive conversations with myself, ownership (and team president Rod Wood) about everything.”
Quinn said the issue had not come up during a standard background check during the hiring process, and he indicated such background checks are beyond his area of expertise.
“I’m not paid to do extensive background checks. I’m here to select a head coach,” Quinn said. “I’m very comfortable with Matt Patricia as our head coach.”
Patricia’s first year was a rocky one for the Lions on the field and off, and Detroit fans may not have much patience if things don’t improve quickly in 2019.
“He’s very self-aware,” Quinn said. “He has a good understanding of his strengths, his limitations. He’s going to take this offseason, as we all do, to look back and say, hey, what can I change? Because obviously, we’ve got to do better.”
Detroit is now in the market for a new offensive coordinator after deciding not to renew Jim Bob Cooter’s contract .
“We need to do a better job of going into each week, looking at the opponent, and saying, how are we going to beat this team? They have a great run defense and a poor pass defense, maybe we throw it 45 times. And vice versa,” Quinn said. “We want someone that thinks that way. That thinks that, hey, I have an offense, but my offense is adaptable.”
Detroit’s late-October trade that sent Golden Tate to Philadelphia didn’t help the offense. The Lions were 3-4 at the time and faced the possibility of losing Tate to free agency. They received a third-round draft pick for him.
“It was just an offer that we really couldn’t refuse, for what the value was, and for what we had left of the player, which was eight games,” Quinn said. “We felt we had a balanced offense at that time.”
The next big name to depart could be defensive end Ziggy Ansah, whom the Lions kept this season on the franchise tag but who played in only seven games because of injury problems.
“Ziggy fought through some things this year,” Quinn said while remaining noncommittal about Ansah’s future. “Ziggy’s extremely, extremely tough. I’m proud of him being a Detroit Lion.”