Brad Holmes, whose bold roster-reshaping decisions helped the Detroit Lions win their first division title in 30 years, has been named the 2023 NFL Executive of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America.
Holmes, 44, the Lions’ vice president and general manager since 2021, is the first Detroit front office member to win the award since its inception in 1993. He has seen his labor rewarded with his team reaching the NFC championship game against the San Francisco 49ers, which means they’re one win from reaching their first-ever Super Bowl appearance. A 2002 North Carolina A&T cum-laude graduate, Holmes came in the door with bold moves — none more ostentatious than trading away established quarterback Matthew Stafford for a younger version in Jared Goff.The Lions went only 3-13-1 in Holmes’ first season, 2021, but even then showed signs of improvement. They started that season 0-10-1 and then went 3-3 in their final six games. They improved to 9-8 in 2022 and 12-5 in the regular season. That 12-5 mark was good enough to win the NFC North division, but Goff took it two steps further by leading the Lions to a 31-23 win over Tampa Bay last week, a week after he led the Lions to a 24-23 victory over Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams.
To say his moves have paid off handsomely is an understatement. To say they came without a lot of initial criticism is not true.Two moves he drew the most heat for have also returned the highest dividends. Holmes acquired running back Jahmyr Gibbs and tight end Sam LaPorta this year with the final first-round pick from the Stafford trade. The Lions, initially with the No. 7 pick in the draft, parlayed that into the 12th and 34th picks.
LaPorta caught an NFL-rookie-record 86 passes for 889 yards, scored ten touchdowns, and was named second-team All-Pro, the first rookie tight end to earn that honor in franchise history. Gibbs also had 10 TDs and accounted for 1,261 yards from scrimmage overall, which ranked among the five best rookie seasons in franchise history.
“It’s a hell of a job by [Holmes], once again,” Lions coach Dan Campbell, a finalist for the NFL Coach of the Year award, said in an interview with Michigan Live. “[He] took a lot of criticism for those two picks, but they look like they’re OK, so I’m glad we got them.”
Lions receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown said, “[Holmes has] put together a great group the last three years. It’s a testament to his hard work and everyone up there.”
Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, an Assistant Coach of the Year finalist, praised Holmes for ignoring criticism and being confident in his decisions.
“He spearheads the whole thing obviously, and it’s a collaborative process where we get feedback early in the offseason about the roster, and the coaching staff gets to speak up about where we’re at, strengths and weaknesses, and what we’d like to improve upon,” Johnson said. “He hears everything and looks to attack the issues at hand full steam ahead. So, when it comes to the draft, I know between him and the head coach, they’re always very much on the same page. And when you fall in love with a player both as a personnel staff and a coaching staff, then I think what we’ve seen over the last three years is he’s willing to go out and get those guys, no matter what the outside noise might say.”
Holmes started two years as a defensive tackle and helped North Carolina A&T win the MEAC and the HBCU National Championship in 1999. When he was done, he graduated with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication.
Source: Rolling Out