Pat Caputo: Lions’ front office structure could hinder GM Brad Holmes


Be honest. On the day Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp fired Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia, what would have been your reaction if you knew Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell were replacing them?

Outraged? Underwhelmed? Who?

Especially considering, evidently, the general manager didn’t select the head coach.

That doesn’t mean it will not work. Holmes has trained his entire professional career for the general manager role. Word is he is smart, up-to-date and has genuine potential. He projected those attributes during his introductory news conference Tuesday.

Campbell is charismatic. The “leader of men” cliche fits the narrative considering it is the reputed strength of Dearborn-native Robert Saleh, who was hired by the Jets.

There was a dark cloud hanging over the organization under the previous regime. Quinn and Patricia were in leadership positions without believers as followers. Personality and charisma isn’t everything, but it counts for a lot, especially given the emotion of football. This is a massive upgrade in that category.

Yet, the Lions’ process has plenty of holes. It’s basically the Lions’ leadership -- Hamp, team president Rod Wood, advisor Chris Spielman and administrator Mike Disner -- saying “trust us.”


Not only do the Lions have nearly six decades of unprecedented ineptitude under the ownership of the Ford family, but the above-mentioned quartet are essentially new at this.

The Lions’ roster is hollow. There is little sizzle, and even less depth. There is a comfort zone, not only for ownership, but many Lions’ fans: Matthew Stafford or bust. That’s even though the result has invariably been disappointment.

Holmes didn’t fully commit to Stafford Tuesday. But it’s like he has to bring him back. Campbell is expected to formally be hired after a second interview this week.

Holmes tried to sidetrack the Lions’ obvious need to go into total rebuilding mode, saying he expects to “field as competitive team as possible in 2021.”

Hamp said the GM and coach will report to her and Wood, a departure from the last regime when the coach reported to Quinn. So will Disner, a West Bloomfield native, who has risen rapidly in ownership’s eyes. He is the so-called salary cap guru, and will also report to Wood and Hamp rather than Holmes.

It’s clear Wood is the main voice in Hamp’s ear, and Disner has emerged as their most trusted advisor. It could work if everyone pulls for the team. The reality of the past is this has set up the Lions for in-fighting.

Holmes can’t be treated like a sparrow in a hurricane. He must be considered the most important voice in the room on draft day and with free agent signings. Otherwise, what is the point?

Expect Campbell to give great locker room speeches. The media and fans will be enamored with him at the beginning. He looks like the NFL coach from central casting.

But he is clearly going to need strong coordinators, and the willingness to stay out of their way.

Having played in Detroit under perhaps the least effective head coach among the many for the Lions, Rod Marinelli, Campbell has seen a classic example of what doesn’t work.

I hope, for the sake of Lions’ fans, this works. Truthfully, though, I am skeptical.

Too many cooks, and not enough quality ingredients. The best piece is Holmes.

My fear is his voice is going to be drowned out by others.

Featured Image Photo Credit: (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)