'It's cool to see the commitment' from Lions ownership to team, adviser Chris Spielman says

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Justin Rogers, The Detroit News
·5 min read
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Feb. 23—When Sheila Ford Hamp took over as the principal owner of the Detroit Lions last June, she vowed to be hands-on and learn as much as she could about the internal workings of the organization.

According to Chris Spielman, the special adviser she brought on to provide additional guidance during the team's search for new football leadership this offseason, Ford Hamp is following through with that plan.

As the Lions embark on their first free agency period and draft with Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell in the general manager and head coaching seats, ownership has been taking part in preparatory meetings, Spielman said in an interview Tuesday morning with 97.1 FM.

"It was interesting, people ask me all the time, how much is Sheila involved," Spielman said. "Well, Sheila has been involved by being in all these personnel meetings. She sat in two days of offensive free-agency meetings and defensive free-agency meetings.

"I had a great office when I got here," Spielman continued. "All of a sudden, I'm on a corner next to the exit door. I said, 'What happened?' Well, Sheila wants this office because it's right in the middle of everything, which is awesome. It just goes to show her commitment to what she wants and how involved she is, you know, being in these meetings and giving her opinion, which is fun. It's cool to see the commitment that she has and that (president) Rod (Wood), (senior vice president) Mike Disner and everybody has."

Spielman did make sure to clarify, both at the beginning and end of his point, all final decisions on personnel are being made by the football staff.

"Everybody understands that, as far as the personnel goes, Brad and Dan, it's on the them. They've gotta sign their name to it."

But Ford Hamp's involvement, and Wood and Spielman by extension, shows the team's commitment to its offseason-long talking point of collaboration. Both Holmes and Campbell made it a central selling point during the interview process and Spielman said he's seen it in practice while sitting in on a recent college scout meeting with the duo.

"The ability to identify what type of player you want and have that clear and communicated, and everybody have a voice and opinion on what type of player that is," Spielman said. "Sometimes there are disagreements, but disagreements are good because you can hash out and always give your 'why.' Between the pro staff, the college staff and Brad Holmes leading it, and Dan and Brad leading personnel meetings, it's clear to me that everybody is on the same page with, I believe, productive disagreement at times."

Spielman said both Holmes and Campbell have followed through with their vow to bring in high-level collaborators who will challenge their thinking with the goal of reaching the best conclusion.

With Campbell, Spielman highlighted the hiring of former head coach Anthony Lynn to serve as offensive coordinator, two potential future head coaches in Aaron Glenn and Duce Staley to be defensive coordinator and assistant head coach, and longtime head coach Dom Capers as a defensive assistant.

"I've always looked at coaches this way — the great coaches surround themselves with talented people," Spielman said. "Some coaches that maybe get a shot, maybe aren't as secure as Dan Campbell and might not hire guys they deem a threat.

"Dan and Brad have done exactly what they would say in the interview in the process," Spielman said. "Anybody can say anything during the interview process. Until we see it with our own eyes, which I have, now I feel like we're giving ourselves the best chance to win as soon as possible. I don't know when that's going to be, but I'm very confident it will happen."

Some additional observations from Spielman's interview with 97.1: — If Spielman's opinion is reflective of the organization's, don't expect the Lions to be particularly active during free agency. As the team begins the overhaul of its roster, he puts a far greater emphasis on building through the draft.

"I'm sure in free agency, in any philosophy, you can fill in voids in free agency, but you can't buy a locker room," Spielman said. "That's been a philosophy for a lot of teams. Generally, what I believe, you want to build your team through the draft. It's kinda draft, develop and re-sign. I think that's hopefully the direction the Lions will take. Everybody understands that the most successful teams, usually, build through the draft, get your core nucleus of players and you try to re-sign those guys to a second contract." — Despite having insight into the team's thinking, Spielman didn't tip his hand on whether the Lions will be utilizing the franchise tag on Kenny Golladay, only sharing his personal views on the player.

"I think Kenny is a competitive guy, and the thing I've always admired most about Kenny when doing the games on TV is his ability to win the 50-50 ball," Spielman said. "I just think his size and what he can bring to the table is something a lot of people like about Kenny Golladay, including me." — Per league rules, Spielman is prohibited from commenting on Detroit's agreement to trade quarterback Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams until the deal becomes official next month.

Still, Spielman did offer some brief thoughts on Jared Goff, the quarterback the Lions are getting back in the swap along with a trio of draft picks.

"You look at a guy like Jared Goff, when I watched him during my time at Fox when he played for the Rams, there's a lot of good things you like about him — his accuracy, his toughness," Spielman said. "I think that I've always had a great admiration for him. He's a hard-working guy. ... (Rams coach) Sean McVay, although he might have a little bit of disagreement with him, always saw the potential in Jared."

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers