The Detroit Lions broke out in the 2023 NFL Season and rode all the way to the NFC Championship Game, just two years after being one of the worst teams in football. In fact, the turnaround by the Lions in the span of two years is nothing short of amazing. A team that was notorious for being totally inept and poorly run is now among one of the more stable franchises in the NFL for the long term.
Well, what makes a team so strong and stable? Ownership certainty plays a big part, but so do the general manager, head coach, his staff, the roster, and most importantly, the quarterback. Enter Brad Holmes, the general manager of the Detroit Lions. Holmes began his tenure as GM back in 2021.
From 2003-2020, he was with the Los Angeles Rams. He served as a scout from 2003-2012 and became the director of college scouting from 2013-2020. In 2021, the Lions hired him. Denver Broncos General Manager George Paton also took over as a GM back in 2021. The Broncos hired him to replace the long tenure of John Elway, who essentially got demoted into a front office role for a little bit.
Both Paton and Holmes took reigns of their respective franchises in the same season. For the Lions, they began at the bottom and have worked their way to the top. For the Broncos, they also began at the bottom, and have worked their way, well, still in the bottom.
The hire of George Paton was praised league-wide. Paton was a respected front office figure, and the early returns of Paton's tenure seemed encouraging. His 2021 draft netted players like Patrick Surtain II, Quinn Meinerz, and Baron Browning. However, that's when the spiral seemed to begin for Paton and the Broncos.
In fact, the roster has not improved since Paton took over; it's gotten worse. The pass rush is nonexistent. The defensive line is weak. The wide receivers are not explosive. There is no viable tight end on the roster. The QB situation is murky, and Paton swung and missed big-time on Nathaniel Hackett and Russell Wilson.
Brad Holmes and the Lions, on the other hand, have slowly but surely built up their roster and have hit grand slams in the NFL Draft since Holmes took over. The NFL Draft has netted players like Amon Ra St. Brown, Penei Sewell, Ifeatu Melifonwu, Aidan Hutchinson, Jameson Williams, Kerby Joseph, Jahmyr Gibbs, Jack Campbell, Sam LaPorta, and Brian Branch.
The Lions have been infused with viable young talent, and their young players have driven the team to the top of the NFL. The Lions swung on their QB position and have a long-term passer in Jared Goff. They've made smart free agency decisions, signing guys like CJ Gardner-Johnson, Graham Glasgow, and David Montgomery.
They've embraced their culture and rode it out with head coach Dan Campbell. In fact, George Paton took over a franchise in much better shape than Brad Holmes did, and Paton has driven this Broncos roster into the ground.
Frankly, it's embarrassing seeing the Lions do what they did this year while the Broncos get stuck in the irrelevant middle.
George Paton and Brad Holmes took over at the same time, and it's clear which one has done the better job.