The 2021 season was all about establishing a new way forward for the Detroit Lions.
It’s no secret that the franchise has dealt with losing season after losing season. Yet, new general manager Brad Holmes is out to change this.
Formerly a member of the Los Angeles Rams organization, Holmes was given a GM job for the first time in his professional career with the Lions. He made waves with his hiring of Dan Campbell as Detroit’s head coach.
The two worked together throughout the offseason and into the regular season, ultimately creating a team that finished 3-13-1. Despite the struggles, Campbell impressed his GM with his ability to get players to unite.
“Dan’s been phenomenal,” Holmes said. “I can’t say enough great things about him, the rest of the staff, so many great things I can say about Dan. But, I’ll just sum it up: He’s got an 'it' factor. You either have it or you don’t, and he has that. He’s been a joy to work with. It was very cool to see how hard these guys played when things got bleak late in the year, (in) practices and games.”
Though the wins weren’t there, Holmes and company are very optimistic about the future of their team. During his year-end press conference Tuesday, the Lions’ first-year GM mentioned dealing with adversity several times.
Whether it was injuries or losses, Detroit had plenty to deal with. Throughout the whole season, though, Holmes said he and Campbell remained steady in their optimism.
“Dan and I, we’re cut from the same cloth in terms of when adversity hits, we didn’t have to talk about it, we were both immediately encouraged the next week,” Holmes said. “It’d be a tough loss on Sunday, and first thing Monday morning, I’m driving into work saying, ‘I can’t wait to get started for this week.’ And then I see Dan and Dan’s like, ‘Man, we’re about to score 30 points this week.’”
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The Lions were forced to play plenty of young players throughout the season due to a myriad of injuries. Because of this, Holmes believes the team will be set up well for the future.
“We stuck with our plan, and we let these young guys play and get valuable experience,” Holmes said. “At the end of the day, we did lay a good foundation.”
Despite winning two games over playoff teams at the end of the season, Holmes was not satisfied with the overall result of the season.
“I love how the season ended,” Holmes said. “But, the reality is we won three games, and that’s not good enough. And, it never will be.”
In the end, the season was about what Holmes called "laying a foundation." His regime ushered in a much-needed culture change, with Campbell instituting new ideas centered around togetherness and never giving up.
The season wasn’t always easy, and Holmes isn’t satisfied with its result. Yet, even the GM can’t help but be hopeful for the upcoming season.
“It’s hard to practice the patience at times, to stick with the plan,” Holmes said. “But, it’s a multi-year plan, it’s for sustained success. But, I believe we did lay a good foundation.”