When Detroit Lions new general manager Bob Quinn decided to keep Jim Caldwell and his staff in place for another season, it was assumed the coach was on a tight leash.
If the Lions suffered another disappointing season, it's presumed Quinn will wipe out the current staff and replace them with his own, handpicked coach.
Yet, the GM insisted in an interview with the Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press that there is no playoffs-or-bust mentality in the Lions' facility.
"There is no mandate of number of wins and there is no mandate of playoffs," Quinn said.
So what is the expectations for Caldwell to keep his job?
"So listen, it's a combination of wins-losses, decision making," Quinn said. "How's he handle the team? How does he handle adversity? Got players go down, I'm trying to shuffle guys in. Can we get those guys up to speed and get them ready to play? It all goes into it; it's not just one thing."
Quinn did acknowledge that wins and losses matter. In the end, that is how Caldwell will be judged, but the GM continued to harp that it's not the only thing that matters.
"Yeah, I decided to keep Jim, but we're in this together and we have to improve," Quinn said. "That's the bottom line. We were (7-9), they were (7-9) last year. Improvement is what everyone strives for. Now is that equated to wins and losses? It's hard to say. It's hard to say because of injuries. Things happen during the course of the season."
It's natural at this stage for Quinn to be optimistic about Caldwell's return, no matter how the season unfolds. What good would a "mandate" actually do for an NFL team? The pressure to win in the NFL is already palpable. Verbalizing additional pressure can become debilitating.
Still, even if everything out of Caldwell's control goes wrong -- Matthew Stafford gets hurt, DeAndre Levy doesn't return to form, Ziggy Ansah gets trapped in a downtown pothole for the duration of the year -- it's difficult to imagine Quinn would bring him back after a five- or six-win season.
In the NFL there doesn't need to be a mandate to win. It's just a fact of life.