How the Lions can become a Super Bowl contender for years to come

In the interest of a better, more productive NFL offseason, SB Nation’s NFL crew is putting on the general manager’s cap and fixing some of the league’s most moribund franchises, from free agents to marketing campaigns guaranteed not to backfire.

The Detroit Lions are mostly fine. They won 11 games last season, and made the playoffs for the second time in four seasons — something they could last say in 1999. The defense was outstanding, finishing No. 2 in yards and points allowed per game during the regular season. The offense probably didn’t give Detroit the return on investment it was hoping for, averaging a hair over 20 points per game, but it’s still a relatively young unit that was in its first year under head coach Jim Caldwell and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi.

Warrren’s chief introduction to the NFL came in 1997 with the St. Louis Rams in a front office legal role. But former Rams head coach Dick Vermeil said that Warren’s contribution was much larger.

“What we did there in three years and in winning a Super Bowl is hard to do,” Vermeil said. “One of the reasons why was Kevin did a tremendous job of getting me, the rest of the coaching staff and getting our players in the right frame of mind to coach and be coached. He spent a lot of time helping players mature. Kevin is gifted, very intelligent with a great asset of emotional intelligence. And in a crisis, when shit hits the fan, he knows what to do. He can be empathetic, but he can be tough. Sometimes in the NFL, you have to be that when you really have to be that.”

Warren, 51, the youngest of seven children, said he learned those traits growing up in Phoenix from his father, Morrison, Sr.; his mother, Margaret; and his oldest brother, Morrison, Jr.

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