"It became obvious to everyone that Bob was ready for this job," Lions President Rod Wood said. "He had a great idea of what he would do as our general manager; has a great system that he will bring to the Lions; knows what it takes to build a winning organization."
Quinn impressed the Lions during his two interviews, providing what Wood described as "handout materials," that included a series of decisions he would make if was hired. He got the gig, the Lions acknowledged, in part because of where he used to work in the NFL.
"He's done a great job for us and really been one of the foundation blocks from the last decade and a half," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.
The first thing Quinn will have to do in Detroit is decide what's next for his coach. Caldwell has two years left on his four-year contract and is 18-15 over two years, including a loss in a wild-card game last year.
Previously, Caldwell was 26-22 over three regular seasons with the Indianapolis Colts as they reached the Super Bowl, lost a wild-card game and dropped 14 games in 2011 in large part because Peyton Manning missed the season because of neck surgery.
Quinn said he talked with Caldwell briefly Monday, though an interview the same day was unlikely.
"I have a great deal of respect for coach Caldwell," Quinn said. "During his time in Indianapolis, we played against them numerous times. I've heard great things about him from my colleagues around the league, but that process has yet to start."
Quinn has started working for the Lions, who will give him the final say on football-related decisions, and is no longer employed by the Patriots in any capacity.
"I'm very excited that he's here," team owner Martha Firestone Ford said. "I'm sure he'll do a good job. I think I have a winner."
Would Ford prefer that Quinn keep Caldwell as coach?
"I love Jim Caldwell, but I don't want to answer that question," she said.
Quinn said he also isn't sure if he will have a job for Lions vice president of player personnel Sheldon White, who was promoted to interim GM after Martin Mayhew was fired two months ago.
Quinn leaves a relatively anonymous, supporting role with a successful franchise for one with a team that has a single playoff victory since winning the 1957 NFL title. Since Quinn joined the Patriots in 2000, they are 21-8 in the postseason, including a 4-2 mark in the Super Bowl.
Some other decisions could loom, too.
Lions star receiver Calvin Johnson may choose to retire this offseason. If he wants to play, his contract calls for him to count $24 million against the salary cap next season and Quinn will have to evaluate whether to keep or cut him.
"I've found over my experience in the National Football League that couple weeks after the regular season is over, is not a time to push a player into staying or going," Quinn said. "This is a long season. This is a tough game, so I'm not in a position to put any pressure on Calvin Johnson. I'm not going to do that."
Quinn also doesn't seem interested in making a change at quarterback as Matthew Stafford enters his eighth season in the league.
"He's a good quarterback," Quinn said. "I think he's the quarterback that we want here for the future."
He declined to assess the rest of the roster, or say how quickly he expected to turn around a team coming off a 7-9 season.
"I'm not making any timetables about how fast we're going to win championships around here," Quinn said. "This is a day-by-day, month-by-month process. We're going to do this thing the right way. ... We're going to build it for the long haul."