After time away for family, Glover Quin returns to Lions

Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Glover Quin pulled up the sleeve on his left wrist a little bit, just enough to take a peek at the watch he was wearing. He checked the time. The Detroit Lions safety estimated he had been in Michigan with his teammates for about 27 hours at that point.

And he was using that time to learn as much as he could after being away from the team for most of the rest of offseason workouts.

“When I’m here, I’m here, you know?” Quin said. “When I’m here, I’m at work; I try to be at work. What’s going on at home, I deal with it whenever I leave here, so when I go back to the hotel, I deal with it. But when I’m at work, I’m at work.”

Benny Sieu/USA Today Sports

He arrived in Michigan on Monday to take part in the team’s three-day mandatory minicamp this week. That Quin hadn’t been at work throughout the rest of the offseason was a change for the 32-year-old. Throughout his career to this point, Quin had been a regular attendee in the offseason program.

After being a fourth-round pick in 2009, he worked his way into being a starter in Houston. Then he came to Detroit as a free agent in 2013 and has been one of the team’s core defensive players since. Made a Pro Bowl in 2014. Hasn’t missed a game since the 2009 season. Turned into the team’s emotional defensive leader over the past few seasons, signing two more contracts with the Lions along the way, including a two-year extension last year that will carry through the 2019 season.

Quin said Tuesday he was not thinking about retirement, but he also admitted that when it’s time for him to leave football, he’ll know when that is.

“Went from a fourth-round draft pick to 10 years in the NFL, started 132 straight games, and I’ve done things that I wouldn’t have even imagined I would have been able to do just coming out,” Quin said. “So when it’s time for me to walk away, I will peacefully and gracefully bow out and let the young guys have it.”

But this year was a first for him, spending most of the offseason away from his team. He made this decision after realizing how short the offseason really was. Quin knew the work he had to do to remain among the top safeties in the league. He also felt he could get more out of his own workouts than standing around working out and watching in Allen Park. Instead, he could spend time with his family in Houston, get his workouts in and also get the time with his family.

“The thing that was tough for me was the fact that when I was coming into the offseason program, it was kind of like our season started in the end of April,” Quin said. “So it was like come April, basically you’re kind of like in-season and then you get a little break and you’re really in-season. I think I need to devote a little more.

“If you come home in January and you got to go back in April, I mean, it takes you kind of a few weeks to a month to kind of get settled in, get into the routine, but then all of a sudden you got to start back training to get ready to come back and it’s on your mind. OK, it’s February and once March gets here the new league year starts, it’s time to be thinking about going back … and so I was just like, I needed some more time and some stuff I had to deal with.”

Quin wouldn’t get into much detail about what he needed to deal with other than spending time with his family. His time away did allow him to think about his future, though, and look at football differently than he had in the past.

He hadn’t been away from the game like this before — at least not since his time as a junior college player in Mississippi. Since then he has played at New Mexico, in Houston and Detroit. He’s made millions of dollars, invested smartly and even started coaching his son’s Little League baseball team last year.

Now he’s back, and on Tuesday he slid right into his old spot in the back line of the Lions’ defense, the unit’s smartest player and the defense’s only player over 30 appearing once again to be preparing for another season in the NFL.

“It was more of a, ‘Man, I kind of miss being around the guys, but more of me, just take a step back and just kind of separate myself,'” Quin said. “And give myself fully to my wife, to my kids, and enjoy that time. But understand that I still have a job I got to do so got to make time for that as well, and that was it.”

College game prepped new Lions DC Paul Pasqualoni for return

By Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer

ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Even when he was working as a position coach the past four years for the Chicago Bears, Houston Texans and Boston College, Paul Pasqualoni still worked like he would one day get back to this.

One day, he’d return to making defensive decisions – and it took his former Syracuse graduate assistant to get him there. The Detroit Lions will run mostly Patricia’s multiple front defense, but Pasqualoni is expected to be calling the plays this fall.

“I’ve always prepared like that was going to be a responsibility you needed to be prepared for,” Pasqualoni said Tuesday, the first time he spoke with the media since being hired in February. “Even as an assistant coach I was always kind of in that mode.”

Michael Rothstein/ESPN

Lions coordinator Paul Pasqualoni wants to build a defense that stops the run and makes QBs uncomfortable. Michael Rothstein/
Pasqualoni called defenses in the NFL for Miami in 2008 and 2009 and then in Dallas in 2010 and part of his head coaching stint at Connecticut from 2011 to 2013. He was part of the reason Syracuse had a strong defense when he ran that program from 1991 to 2004.

It has been almost a decade since he has been an NFL decision-maker, though. Those offenses incorporate more read option and have found ways to use certain players in specialized roles to take advantage of their skills.

Even though he hax been away from that part of coaching, where he has been has actually helped.

“If they’ve changed, they’ve gone a little bit more to the college-spread set, the zone-read set, so the past two years in the ACC, I promise you, I’ve seen that a little bit, up front and very, very close and personal,” Pasqualoni said. “So if anything, that’s probably helped me a little bit.

“And there’s been some good quarterbacks in that league, too. A couple good ones. It’s helped.”

Among those quarterbacks: Now-NFL quarterbacks Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson and Brad Kaaya.

For the 68-year-old coaching lifer, it’s a long way from his first job as an assistant coach at Cheshire (Conn.) High School in 1972 when he was also teaching physical education at three different elementary schools in his hometown. That path eventually led to Syracuse, where he began as a linebackers coach and then the head coach – where he worked with Donovan McNabb and Dwight Freeney and hired a bunch of the current Lions staff, including Patricia.

After being fired following the 2004 season after a change in athletic directors, Pasqualoni bounced around a bit before Patricia called this offseason, offering him a job to run his defense – not dissimilar to when another former Syracuse assistant under Pasqualoni, Steve Addazio, hired him to go to Boston College in 2016.

This staff has even more Syracuse connections. As he spoke Tuesday, Brian Stewart – whom he hired as a defensive backs coach in 2001 at the school – was a few feet away also chatting with the media as a member of the Lions staff. And it’s well known how many Syracuse-Pasqualoni connections there are on the Lions’ staff now in both the coaches and support staff to those coaches.

A lot of that comes because of Pasqualoni, who was all of their bosses at one point or another.

“The Syracuse program was a developmental program. We worked hard, tried to develop players, tried to always be prepared, and the GAs who came in there had a lot of responsibility, had a lot of jobs they had to do,” Pasqualoni said. “They worked very, very hard at it, and a lot of good things happened to a lot of those guys.”

Other than Patricia, though, Pasqualoni’s job will be the highest profile. The two of them together will be looked at if Detroit’s defense fails. And it’ll be Pasqualoni coordinating Patricia’s vision for the defense, a philosophy the two of them have spent years honing.

“Defensive philosophy is going to be smart, you know, to be tough, and that means to be able to perform at a very dependable, high level on a consistent basis,” Pasqualoni said. “Like you’ve heard a hundred times, stop the run and try to make the quarterback uncomfortable. You’re not going to sack the guy, but there has to be in a variety of ways discomfort created for the guy playing the quarterback position, whether it be disguise or pressure, whatever it might be. You just can’t let quarterbacks at this level operate and be comfortable because in the end, you know, they’ll get you.

“In a nutshell, that’s kind of it.”