The Lions Can't Compete, And That's The Biggest Indictment Of Them All
In all of professional sports, there are plenty of reasons why a franchise cannot get over the hump and have an opportunity to play for the whole enchilada. Bad luck. Injuries. Poor decisions. Free agent busts. A negative culture.
But there is an even greater indictment of an organization, and it can be said of the Detroit Lions today -- as it could be said of them in too many of the past 50 years.
They cannot compete. And I can't think of a worse, more damning statement to levy upon a professional sports team, but there you have it.
The Lions are woefully shy in talent, coaching, and above all, direction from the top.
None of what I've rapped onto this keyboard is news to you, I'm sure, but I just want to make sure folks don't think that simply changing some parts here and there is going to get it done.
I've written it before, but it bears repeating. The Lions will not -- repeat, NOT -- make any headway until this infrastructure is torn apart, from top to bottom, and all of its key parts replaced.
The Lions need their Kenny Holland, their Dave Dambrowski, their Joe Dumars, in the worst way. I've mentioned Mike Holmgren, but that was before I knew that Bill Parcells was making himself available. That the Lions didn't at least place a phone call to Parcells's people is unconscionable. But that ship has sailed, and there are plenty of other good, solid football people that would die for a chance to right the Lions' ship.
Coach Rod Marinelli, I'm afraid, must be sacrificed along with all the others. Talk right now is that offensive coordinator Mike Martz will be jettisoned. Fine. But not nearly enough. And what of the porous defense of coordinator Joe Barry, the coach's son-in-law? That was far more damaging than the shenanigans Martz pulled -- and he pulled plenty.
Marinelli, in my mind, is writing his own termination papers with the statements he makes. Every time the Lions lose -- and when they lose, they lose BIG -- he confesses to an abject failure in all areas of football: offense, defense, special teams, and worst of all, effort.
"It's on me," is his new favorite comment. It's admirable that he wants to fall on the sword, but sooner or later the person admitting to all this derelict in duty must be shown the door.
Again, not enough. President Matt Millen, clearly, isn't cutting it. If Bill Ford allows Millen to hire a fourth head coach in the face of such a hideous won/loss record, then that surely must be off the charts in terms of continued faith in a front office individual. Only the Los Angeles Clippers of the NBA, who have somehow kept Elgin Baylor employed for so long, could rival that.
I almost hate to write about the dismissal of Millen, because a) it doesn't appear to be imminent; and b) how many more "Fire Millen" rants can you read or hear, anyway? But this opinion isn't just about releasing Millen -- it's about what to do afterward.
I'll say it again. Millen's greatest failure happened in the wake of taking the Lions' job to begin with. He didn't surround himself with competent, experienced football people. He should NEVER have hired a rookie head coach -- the "blind leading the blind" syndrome. A search committee should have been put together, and someone with NFL head coaching experience should have been brought in. OK, fine. That's in the past. But here's what to do going forward.
As I said, Bill Parcells isn't the only human being who knows a thing or two about finding talent in the NFL. So stop crying over his hiring by the Miami Dolphins. That's water under the bridge. Look instead in Indianapolis, or New England, or Seattle (Holmgren), or even Dallas. Maybe a few other places, where they've either enjoyed sustained success, or have demonstrated an ability to drag a franchise out of the muck. Look at what's happening in Cleveland, for example.
Raid those front offices. Find someone who will lead the Lions in terms of drafting, acquiring pro personnel, and selecting a new head coach. That person should, in turn, delegate those responsibilities to proven NFL people, and oversee them.
Marinelli propped DT Cory Redding up as his pet project. Got him a boat load of money in the process. Marinelli's pedigree is the defensive line. He supposedly had a huge hand in making the Tampa Bay defense so fearsome.
Yet here's what he got from Redding this year: one sack. One.
Again, the coach is doing a great job -- of writing his own epitaph. Another thing that's "on him."
It's not enough to replace Rod Marinelli. Only a fool would think that that is the panacea.
A fool like .... Bill Ford Sr., perhaps?