Brad Holmes is preemptively crushing the narrative that the Detroit Lions have nothing to do but regress from their heartbreaking loss in the NFC Championship Game. Legendary broadcaster Bob Costas just opined that the Chiefs should be “America’s Team” rather than the Cowboys, but rest assured, anyone and everyone around the country rallied around the Lions all season long.
Detroit underwent a rapid rebuild that could’ve easily had the plug pulled when head coach Dan Campbell started off with a record of 0-10-1, and then began his second season with a 1-6 mark. Good old-fashioned qualities of stick-to-itiveness, grit and some absolutely killer drafts by Holmes from the GM seat paid massive dividends, as Lions’ impossible patience was rewarded at long last with a strong playoff run.
The culture change in the Motor City is palpable. In spite of all this sudden success and uncharted territory for the Lions, though, Holmes doesn’t want to be viewed as a lovable underdog. This man came to Detroit to build a sustainable, powerhouse champion, which he emphatically underscored in a fiery press conference:
“What I want to tell, really, our fans is, look, it’s only gonna get better. OK? We’re only gonna get better…I don’t want anybody to think that this was a one-shot Cinderella magical journey that just happened. No. It’s real, alright? This is exactly what was supposed to happen.
I understand that based on history, from what’s happened in the past, I understand you have a season like this, it’s easy to feel like this was kind of a one-shot magical, lucky, cute story, which I’m tired of hearing. It was none of that. It’s easy to think that, but no.
Every move that me and Dan [Campbell] make it has been made to sustain what we are building. Alright? Every single move we make and every single move we do not make is to sustain what we have been building.”
#Lions GM Brad Holmes doesn't want to hear that this season was a Cinderella story. "It's real. It's only going to get better."
Oh but that wasn’t all! Holmes was evidently irked by the criticism about his drafts as they happened in real time, only to dunk in everyone’s faces when he turned out to nail the vast majority of those picks. Jahmyr Gibbs, Sam LaPorta and Brian Branch all made huge impacts as rookies from the ’23 class.
Amazing: #Lions GM Brad Holmes cashed some receipts today at his press conference:
"You wanted us to pick a quarterback, you didn't want us to pick Penei Sewell."
No but seriously, I love the tandem of Campbell and Holmes. They’ve been in lockstep from Day 1, weathered a brutal start, and came out the other side with one of the most exciting, talented teams in all of football. Although Campbell’s hyper-aggressive game management cost them a Super Bowl appearance, I’d like to revise my stance on Detroit never getting that deep in the playoffs again with the current core in place. It has less to do with Holmes’ words — though they certainly don’t hurt the cause — and more to do with the Lions somehow hanging onto Ben Johnson for a second straight offseason.
I was one of many who assumed Johnson would be out the door for a head coaching job. He’s the NFL’s hottest offensive coordinator, and as I’ve stated countless times, the perfect scenario in modern pro football is having a head coach who can call offensive plays. If successful, that’s the ultimate beacon of stability and continuity for your team’s quarterback. Now, Campbell has called offensive plays before and I think he’d do fine at it — just not as well as Johnson.
A lot of controversy is swirling about how Johnson seemed to spurn the Commanders before they hired Dan Quinn, with a splashy feature in The Athletic just today.
Ben Johnson's agent shared his plans to stay in Detroit by texting Washington officials while the Commanders’ group was on a flight to Michigan.
To me, Washington is coming across as petty, unprofessional and unfortunately is still be recovering from the lingering toxicity of the Dan Snyder era. The libelous sh*t about Johnson feels blown out of proportion and orchestrated by the new Commanders brain trust behind the scenes. Sadly, the Commies and Lions don’t play each other in 2024.
Circling back to the Lions aspect of all this, Johnson staying put is arguably the most impactful short-term coaching move of the offseason other than Jim Harbaugh to the Chargers. What I mean by that is, for the 2024 season specifically, Harbaugh should represent a swing of three to four wins for the Bolts; Johnson’s decision to remain in Detroit probably gives the Lions an extra couple of wins at least. They’ll need them, because the NFC North is about to get a lot tougher with an MVP-caliber QB in Green Bay in Jordan Love, along with whichever field general the Bears (I assume) draft No. 1 overall to replace Justin Fields.
That’s not even to mention the Vikings, who stayed in the playoff hunt with a revolving door of obscure QBs once Kirk Cousins tore his Achilles in the middle of the season. Minnesota ought to meet Captain Kirk’s asking price to keep him for at least one last ride. Not sure how they’d find a viable solution at the position otherwise.
So yeah, if I were Brad Holmes, I’d be talking my sh*t. The NFL Draft is a lottery of inexact science that Holmes has willed into his favor with what has to be easily the best collection of talent since he took over in Detroit. His bold trade for Jared Goff has gone from looking disastrous to genius. Holmes took the job about a week before Campbell was hired, so he helped nail that critical decision, too. What’s more, Campbell unearthed an elite offensive play-caller in Johnson and has somehow convinced him to stay amid rampant outside interest.
You couldn’t have much more ammunition than Holmes does right now to fire back at outsiders who say the Lions are about to be in for a rude awakening, or will take a step back. As good as the Lions are right now, they have the seventh-most effective cap space at almost $44 million, and four picks in the top 100 of the draft for Holmes to do his work and add more talent to the roster. Detroit is really in a great spot. Hats off to the Holmes-Campbell regime.