Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

03 Aug 2005

Lions Sign Millen to Five-Year Extension

The Detroit Lions have announced the deal on their Web site, with no details, just a picture of Matt Millen and team owner William Clay Ford sitting together on a golf cart. I think Ford is saying, "You know, Matt, we've had the worst record in the league since you've been here." And Millen is saying, "That's true, but I do have those incriminating pictures of you."

An Associated Press story helpfully notes that after the Lions were one of the worst teams in history with Millen's first coach, Marty Mornhinweg, "Mariucci has had more success, going 11-21."

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 03 Aug 2005

66 comments, Last at 18 Sep 2005, 9:12pm by MDS


by sublime33 (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 1:01pm

As a Bears fan, this is excellent news. May we all have bosses as benevolent as William Clay Ford.

by Basilicus (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 1:12pm

While my jury's still out on Millen, he did hire the worst coach to have coached in the past fifteen or twenty years. I'm all for him being extended to see if he does end up being successful, but it should be on a year to year basis. Talk about getting rewarded for mediocrity.

by HLF (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 1:42pm

F&(K, S#$T, P^@S, D@MN, H#LL!

(sob, sob, sob, sob)

Seriously, could there possibly be a more inept franchise in the NFL, including the Cardinals and Saints?????????

This just can't be possible. Being a Lions fan is like living Groundhog Day -- after this year we'll give up on Harrington and sign some back up QB who had one good game to a five year $95 million dollar deal. How we missed out on AJ Feely still amazes me. With acumen like WCF Jr shows, it's no wonder Ford the company is on such solid footing.

Hopeless Lions Fan,

PS -- Aaron, heard you on my drive home on our sports radio last week -- you went over very very well!

by karl (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 1:42pm


by Daniel Warehall (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 1:45pm

Mediocrity? I wish the Lions were just mediocre during Millen's tenure...

I'm shocked... it is the Lions, so I'm not that shocked, but man is this depressing...

by MCS (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 2:03pm

Somewhere, MDS weeps in his Goose Island.

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 2:08pm

The NFL needs to create some kind of competency test for owners.

Actually, all sports could use it (see Sterling, Donald; Wirtz, Bill; Naimoli, Vince).

by Bill (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 3:44pm

Matt Millen and Karl Rove both get extensions!

I'm in the wrong business . . .

by HLF (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 3:58pm

That's unfair - Rove is at least very skilled in his job, however little I think of his morals and politics.

by Ron Mexico (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 4:13pm

Say what you want about Karl Rove, but Turd Blossom sure knows how to work the cap. Franchising Condi was brilliant, and the sign-and-trade for Rumsfeld was astute, even if he hasn't executed the ground game in Iraq well over the past three seasons.

The Election Day Bowl win over Kerry (+3) was impressive, too.

Rove Rules!

by Richie (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 4:20pm

I hate when politics get on this site.

by Al (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 4:31pm

Sorry MDS. At least there's good basketball in Detroit.

by Johonny (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 4:50pm

I hate when politics get on this site.

But not as much as I hate traitors like Karl Rove who sell out their country.

Anyways on subject. One wonders why it is needed to lock in Matt to a long term deal now?

by Hyatt (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 4:52pm

As a Packers Fan, all I can say is YESSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Seriously, when you win 16 games in the last 4 years, it's not time to give your guy an extension. He's just lucky his team is going to win the division this year.

And screw Karl Rove.

by zip (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 4:58pm

"He’s just lucky his team is going to win the division this year. "

Yep, the Lions are a lock to win the NFC North, all right.

by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 5:00pm

“We want continuity in here,� said Ford. “I think Matt has built a great foundation for us to move forward. I cannot think of anyone better to see it through than Matt.�

And that was uttered, apparently, with no irony intended. I believe MDS described that that "continuity" means.

by HLF (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 5:02pm

WCF had to lock in Millen right now, as the presidents of the Bears, Packers, and Vikings had been calling Ford's office for months telling him they planned to hire Millen away the minute he was eligible.....

Watching Ford manuveur is like watching Elmer Fudd try to get the better of whoever he's hunting (though probably much more funny if you aren't a Lions' fan).

by Dominuse (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 5:20pm

"I cannot think of anyone better" about says it all when it comes to Ford's cognitive skills. I'm sure the true insightfulness of the statement was lost on no one but him. Wonder how far he would have gotten in life if his last name wasn't ford.

by Dominuse (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 5:21pm

Elmer Fudd...I like it. We can just call him Elmer Ford from now on.

by ZasZ (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 5:25pm

Perhapds it was Elmer Ford all along, but we flubbed the pronunciation.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 5:40pm

Dangit, I was hoping they'd get rid of him and the Steelers would snatch him up...

As for backup one-game wonder QBs they can sign next, I think they already missed their chance on Kelly Holcomb, who would have looked great in a Lions jersey with a 4-year, $36 million deal. Maybe Jim Sorgi - he had a good game statistically with Indy's practice squad against a desperate Denver team (110 rating), and if he gets in at the end of a few blowouts this year he should be able to get 3 years, 26 million from Millen.

by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 5:56pm

Amazing! Let's not forget that the Lions regularly contended for the playoffs before Millen took over. (Division champs in 1991, 1993, wildcard in 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999 and narrowly missing the playoffs in 2000 with a 9-7 record despite the upheaval of having their head coach quit in the middle of the season)

They went from being a regular playoff contender to complete doormats as soon as Millen took over. And we can't blame it all on Marty Morninweg, since Mariucci has only had 11 wins in two seasons.

The results still need to come in, but I don't think loading up on first-rounders at WR is the way to build a team either. Look at recent Superbowl winners. The Pats, Bucs and Ravens didn't exactly budget tons of money to the receivers.

by Dominuse (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 6:01pm

Maybe someone told Ford that Millen was really that "Wascully Wabbit" he's been after all these years in disguise.

by pcs (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 6:57pm

Suddenly I understand why the windshield nearly popped out of my wife's Ford Focus after less than 10,000 miles.

by Teddy (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 7:00pm

This is the equivalent of someone running out and putting racing stripes and a spoiler on a '91 Ford Taurus station wagon. No matter how much money you sink into it, or how loudly you protest its coolness, at the end of the day it's a rusted-out Ford. You can't spin poop into gold.

by Basilicus (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 7:39pm

Come to think of it, Millen ran Gary Moeller out first thing and replaced him with Mornigwheg. Or did Moeller leave on his own? Either way, Millen ran them from 9-7 to 2-14 in his first year as GM, and Moeller leaving was a big reason their defense went from 11th to 30th in those same years. I also didn't like moving Charlie Batch - I actually thought he had some potential as a solid, if unspectacular, QB. Definitely better than Harrington or a Garcia who'll last one or two years.

Also, in looking back at their history, I hadn't realized the Detroit Lions started out as the Portsmouth Spartans (1930-1933, during which time they went 27-16-7 and finished 7th, 2nd, 3rd, and 3rd in the league.)

by HLF (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 8:44pm

Millen fired Moeller. FWIW.

by somebody (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 9:23pm

Can a lions fan tell me what specifically made mornihweg such a bad coach? Who was his d-coordinator? I mean the players have to completely not buy into your system for you to only win five games in two years.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 9:41pm

I can't remember what was the straw that broke the camel's back when Bobby Ross was the coach in Detroit. He always struck me as an above-average NFL coach.

Millen is damned good in the broadcast booth; too bad we won't be hearing his work there for several more years.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 9:49pm

There's nothing wrong with preaching continuity in the front office. Bowlen and Rooney are both huge fans of continuity, and they've both been very successful as owners.

The trick is to get good before you start worrying about continuity.

by Basilicus (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 10:38pm

Okay, if he fired Gary Moeller, I officially give up on Matt Millen. You don't fire a hometown hero who's a good, solid, hard-working and successful coordinator and shows great promise as a head coach after he is given less than a season to prove himself. Especially when you're firing him for Marty "I like to ride my motorcycle away from frustrating practices like a spoiled child without saying anything to my staff or players because I'm sure that will give them faith in me" Mornigwheg.

by HLF (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 10:51pm

Especially when you're firing him when he was almost able to get them in the playoffs after Bobby Ross couldn't take any more (and after Barry Sanders couldn't take any more and quit) -- if Paul Eddinger doesn't make a last second 54 yard field goal in the last game of the year, the Lions are in the playoffs and the Rams are out.

Of course that sort of success deserves immediate firing and gutting of the tema in favor of a coaching staff and players that lead the glorious Lions to 2 wins the next year, 3 the year after, 4 the year after that, and 6 this past year. (Pittsburg equalled Millen's FOUR YEAR total in the regular season THIS YEAR, not counting playoffs).

I guess us Lions' fans need to be pretty darn grateful it's only a five year extension? For the solid work Millen's done, I'm halfway surprised WCF didn't give him a ten year extension.

BTW, I am sooooo tired of hearing people give Millen credit for all the "talent" on the Lions' roster. That's absurd. If you draft at the top of the draft year after year, it's almost impossible not to acquire talented players. However, with four top drafts, he still hasn't acquired an NFL QB, and he still hasn't acquired enough players to even keep pace with expansion teams. Kill me, please (sigh).

GO BLUE! GO WINGS! (sigh).

Hopeless Lions' Fan

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Thu, 08/04/2005 - 12:08am

So, the Lions have improved every year under Millen. I guess I don't know what all the complaining is about. At this rate they'll be losing playoff games in only two or three more years. You just need to give Millen time to implement his twelve-year plan.

by Matt (not verified) :: Thu, 08/04/2005 - 1:22am

#32 - "BTW, I am sooooo tired of hearing people give Millen credit for all the “talent� on the Lions’ roster. That’s absurd. If you draft at the top of the draft year after year, it’s almost impossible not to acquire talented players."

Unless, of course, you're the 1990's Cincinnati Bengals.

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Thu, 08/04/2005 - 2:19am

Well, at least the son is different. He'll have the right perspective on things.

"Look, I think he's done a very good job." [from the Detroit Free Press on the 1st)

Never mind. It'll be 40 more years of mediocrity disguised as a football team. At least when they build another stadium in 20 years because Ford Field is "outdated" and they "can't compete", I won't get soaked for it.

by Jersey (not verified) :: Thu, 08/04/2005 - 9:44am

Who wouldn't extend a GM whose oversaw improvement EVERY season. Come on the Lions are on a role and on their way to NFL greatness. I hear soon they will be playing IRONMAN football, since they have to find a way for all those 1st round pick receivers to get touches. Mike Williams will not be starting at WR this year, but instead OLB. They say he's making great progress, and is a regular ballhawk on defense.

Seriously, the lions have set themselves up to make at least 1 of their WRs bust, possibly 2. 3 Top of the 1st round WRs cannot all prosper in one offense. One at least will bust for no other reason than that.

by Shalimar (not verified) :: Thu, 08/04/2005 - 9:59am

Who wouldn’t extend a GM whose oversaw improvement EVERY season.

Every season except his first one. He took a nine win team and turned it into a two win team. Even with all of the "improvement", they only won 2/3rds as many games last year as the team Millen took over.

by MDS (not verified) :: Thu, 08/04/2005 - 11:20am

I wrote about Millen and Ford in today's New York Sun (linked, although I think you have to be a subscriber). I agree with what everyone has said here.

I was watching PTI yesterday and Mike Wilbon was raving about how Millen took a team that was on its deathbed and added a lot of talent to it. Seriously, what on earth are people who say that talking about? I would much rather be on my deathbed and 9-7 than talented and 16-48.

by Xao (not verified) :: Thu, 08/04/2005 - 11:20am

Hey, on the upside, the trend indicates that they'll go 10-6 this year and 15-1 next year!

by Daniel Warehall (not verified) :: Thu, 08/04/2005 - 3:01pm

Isn't Charles Rogers already well on his way to being a bust?

by Richie (not verified) :: Thu, 08/04/2005 - 3:51pm

I think there was an article last October or November here on FO.com saying that Rogers already IS a bust. But I didn't like the reasoning.

by Richie (not verified) :: Thu, 08/04/2005 - 3:52pm

The article was easier to find than I thought. Click my name to see it.

by MDS (not verified) :: Thu, 08/04/2005 - 5:03pm

King Kaufman's Salon column today is another good place for Millen commentary. Click my initials.

by buddha (not verified) :: Thu, 08/04/2005 - 5:48pm

I'm not a big Millen fan, but I think he's getting a bit of a raw deal here.

First, he inherited a team at the end of its rope. Yes they "almost" made the playoffs, but they were old and slow and would have been somwhere south of 5-11 with or without Millen the next season. To say that he drove a playoff team into the ground is to not remember what that team was.

How many players from that team are still around anywhere in the NFL? Chris Claiborne? Johnny Morton? Charlie Batch? James Stewart?

I'll grant you that Millen was a colossal failure for his first few years and it was obvious he didn't know what he was doing. And I'll never stick up for WCFord as an owner, but Millen has done some decent things within the organization as far as streamlining things and eliminating a lot of the politics and infighting that used to rule the Lions' roost.

I think the Lions are finally on the right track. Which of course means they'll finish 10-6, get a home playoff game, and promptly get shelled. Oh well.

And I'd rather have Millen than Jerry Angelo or Mike Sherman.

by MDS (not verified) :: Thu, 08/04/2005 - 5:53pm

You'd rather have Millen than Mike Sherman? What division have you been watching the last four years?

by yep (not verified) :: Thu, 08/04/2005 - 9:49pm

First, it's helpful to actually know what the president of the team does rather than what the general manager of a team does.

First off, the entire business side of the Lions has been revamped, the team has moved into a new stadium, and a new practice facility built in Allen Park. That didn't happen by itself, and Tom Lewand didn't do all of it. The team, according to the Ann Arbor News, has trimmed it's costs by 10% over the last five years, while increasing revenue 14%. (I'm searching for the article, bear with me). So as the President of the club he has either directly effected, or had the good sense to delegate to Lewand changes that have made significant improvement in the way the Lions are run as a business.

When the Morninwheg hiring came up, Millen's options were:

1) Keep Moeller. Maybe he had the bona fides to be a head coach, maybe not. As long as he managed to avoid the Excalibur in Southfield, and not order the Crown Royal, he would have been ok.

2) Morninwheg was considered, along with Herm Edwards and Butch Davis, one of the three best coaching candidates available. He had bona fides. Waiting until after the Super Bowl likely would have meant losing Marty, Butch Davis wanted too much control, and Edwards would have been the bottom of his short list. Could he have done better? Sure, but rather than letting a bad coach sit for five years, Millen made a change. One would think that if Moeller had great NFL acumen, someone else would have hired him. (Has he done anything since being D-Coordinator for the Bengals?)

3)To suggest that the 2000 team was some kind of juggernaut that was going places was absurd. This:
David Sloan
Stephen Boyd
Ron Rice
Germaine Crowell
James Stewart
Herman Moore
Desmond Howard
Allen Aldridge
T Barrett Brooks
Bryant Westbrook
Terry Fair
Tony Semple

is a list of starters from that team who were, for all intents and purposes were out of football by the end of the 2002 season. That team was near the end of the line.

Mike Compton
Jeff Hartings
Johnny Morton
Luther Elliss

is the list of players who left that 2000 team to have any significant playing time with other NFL teams. I've included Elliss, though his primary activity is waiving the towel on the sidelines for the Broncos while nursing a broken (insert body part here) and collecting a paycheck.

4) Bobby Ross, draft guru. And if that's not enough, let's look at the draft record Millen the GM inherited.

Between 1997 and 2000, the Lions had 26 draft picks. In 2000, 12 of those picks were on the team, and 10 were starters. By 2003, only 5 were left in the NFL. Either through injury, attrition, or lack of talent, the replacements weren't going to make very much of a contribution as the core got older.

Of the most successful, Chris Clairborne can hardly be considered worthy of being picked 9th overall, Barrett Green is slated to be a backup with the Giants, and Stockar McDougle took a one year deal with the Dolphins.(Charlie Batch and Reuben Droughns were the other two). None of those players are still Lions.

So the team was getting old, and the foundation for rebuilding was poor. Plus, the Lions had to accelerate cap hits on Batch's contract, and Herman Moore's contract, impeding them from making free agent acquisitions, provded the talent pool was that deep to begin with.

The man most certainly has his limitations, to be sure. He isn't really good at signing free agents, as the early washouts of Az Hakim, Brock Marion, and Pete Mitchell would indicate. But his draft intuition, Harrington notwithstanding, is better than average, and he has the ability to run a business effectively.

Plus, unlike previous Lion administrations where everyone could blame everyone else when something went wrong, (from Chuck Schmidt to Ron Hughes to Larry Lee to Jerry Vanisi) Millen willingly serves as the point man for the problems with the club. He'll also nut up and tell you when he made a mistake, and works to correct it.(see Tobin, Vince, and Tobin, Bill). And that puts him two up on the last 50 years of idiocy that constituted the Lions front office.

Is he great? No. But he's at least average. Contracts are made to be broken, or bought out, if things don't improve. When you look at the Detroit Lions as a business operation in 2000, and you look at it today, the guy deserves his extension. Sorry to disappoint you.

by yep (not verified) :: Thu, 08/04/2005 - 9:52pm

You’d rather have Millen than Mike Sherman? What division have you been watching the last four years?

Sherman. Good game day coach.

That'd be about it. Not great organizational skills, overall, not a great GM (if he were, he'd still have the job).

Further, it's not a great comparison. A monkey could make the Packers money.

by Erasmus (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 1:03am

I never get the bad-mouthing of Matt Millen by fans. I mean he is not Scott Pioli or anything of that sort, but pretty much everything that was posted in #46 is true I think of the Lions. That team was not built for the future and he smartly gutted the team.

And at the very least, he has improved his decison-making over the years, made-up for a huge mistake (hiring Marty), and has toned-down his crappy free agent signings (Schroder, Hakim). He did give big money to Dre Bly and Damien Woody-but I can think of worse players that he can give that amount of money towards.

I think this off-season was great for the Lions-we came in with needs at WR, back-up QB, S, OG, depth on DL and CB, and a TE.
We came out with Mike Williams and Kevin Johnson, Jeff Garcia, Kenoy Kennedy, Shaun Cody, Bill Swancutt, Stanly Wilson, and R.W. McQuarters, and Marcus Pollard-without giving out crazy amounts of money for any of the free agents nor reaching for any player in the draft. Either Millen is now handcuffed by the cap (by his still-interest in Ty Law-I am not totally sure) or he has somewhat learn to run a team well.
And really Millen's last 2 drafts have been great. I mean to move down one pick and screw the Browns for a guy we did not even want and get two cornerstones on offense (R. Williams and Kevin Jones) is perhaps one of the best moves in draft history.

And I used to be the biggest Matt Millen hater, but I really feel he has turned a corner-and the fact that this team should compete for the NFC North title shows that.

by buddha (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 12:54pm

I agree with 46-48. There's more to being a President/GM than we fans see every day. Millen's been pretty good at gutting the old guard out of the Lions.

As for Sherman, I'd like to see him as a GM without Brett Favre to bail him out every other week.

As to Moeller, did someone say he was a local hero? Half the state hated him cause he coached at Michigan, the other half loved him because his firing enabled us to boot Lloyd Carr from DQ! (Now if only Lloyd would boot Jim Herrman, but I digress...)

We'll see if the hype on the Lions "talent" is for real this season. If it is, then Millen will deserve some of the credit. If not, he'll deserve most of the blame.

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 5:25pm

re #46: You do raise some good points about the state of the pre-Millen Lions. However, the Lions did not need five years to rebuild during their other weak points in the late '80s and '90s; even if the success is temporary, I would rather have an occasional 10-6 season than consistent performance that isn't even mediocrity.

Even optimistic projections show the Lions no better than their 9-7 season that preceded the Millen Years. Now, if they can build upon that, your points are well taken. If this is the peak of his efforts, then frankly, I don't see the value in anything that he's done. Taking a 9-7 team and rebuilding them into a 9-7 team isn't a skill that I value in an NFL management candidate.

I don't really care how he's improved the Lions financially. He could turn them into the best money-making machine in the NFL, but if the Fords don't use that money to improve the on-field product, it's irrelevant to me. Granted, if the Lions were financially mismanaged to the point that their existence in Detroit were threatened, then I might be concerned. I don't own stock in the Lions (nor would I if they went public), and that's the only reason why I'd be interested in their health as a business. I follow them to watch them win games, and making money sure isn't a guarantee of that.

If they win the division this season and have a foundation on which they can build success for years to come, feel free to bump this up, and I'll bring a fork and knife for my words. ;)

by buddha (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 5:32pm

"I don’t really care how he’s improved the Lions financially."

The Ford's probably do.

by Erasmus (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 6:37pm

"If they win the division this season and have a foundation on which they can build success for years to come, feel free to bump this up, and I’ll bring a fork and knife for my words."

Well, people are predicting them to win the divison this season (the Sporting News for one as I recall). And I think they have a foundation to build on with only 4 starters over the age of 30 (Big Daddy, Corey Schelsinger, Marcus Pollard, and Earl Holmes) and all 4 should produce as well. The rest of the starters are 28 and younger, hell most of the back-ups are 28 and younger. Add to this next year's draft which many people has the potential to be the best ever (which would be amazing considering 2003 draft coup the Lions got).

by MDS (not verified) :: Mon, 08/08/2005 - 1:40pm

Erasmus and yep, you have completely divorced yourselves from reality. You think Mornhinweg, Butch Davis, and Herm Edwards were the best coaches available? Have you completely forgotten that both Marvin Lewis and John Fox were sitting there begging to get an interview? If Millen has done such a great job managing the Fords' money, why did he spend $5 million a year to get Mooch when better coaches like Fox and Lewis were available for significantly less?

If this Lions team is so talented, and the previous regime was so lacking in talent, why have they won 16 games in four years after winning 17 games in two years?

by Rufus O. Pifflelummox (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 12:47am

I read the interesting article that MDS wrote, and the smart but not completely satisfying retort from Yep.

And as I am scanning back, I come across "Can a lions fan tell me what specifically made mornihweg such a bad coach? Who was his d-coordinator? I mean the players have to completely not buy into your system for you to only win five games in two years."

I will never get that two seconds back. They are lost. I felt soiled after reading that and could read no more.

by somebody (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 2:30pm

RE: 54
i was going to write something sarcastic back, but this actually made me laugh.

"I will never get that two seconds back. They are lost. I felt soiled after reading that and could read no more."

I just asked a question about the lions and made a statement, what was so upsetting about that.

by Juice (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 7:05pm

I think he or she was probably flummoxed by the cliches. You sound like Freddy "The Hammer" Williamson.

Why not add that they should just take one game at a time. Or there's no "I" in the word "TEAM." Or blah blah blah blah blah blah.

Yeah, you need players to "buy into" something, as if they're not professionals, blah, blah, blah.

Not exactly Ron Jaworksi stuff.

by yep (not verified) :: Thu, 08/11/2005 - 5:19pm


The previous team wasn't lacking in talent, the talent it had was at the end of the line, and the drafting for purposes of replacing that talent was inadequate. Would you have preferred two or three more seasons of 7-9, 5-11, and 4-12 while the pieces fell apart, with a bottoming out in 2003> Do I have to state again that over half of the offensive and defensive starters were out of football in the two seasons after that team went 9-7? Does the fact that Millen sped up a necessarily player personnel dismantling that was inevitable anyway not register with you?

The team was getting old, and on its way to crapdom, whether it was dismantled whole hog of piece by piece. Millen chose to dismantle it whole hog, and not to retain the excessive amount of money thrown at Morton and Hartings by the Chiefs and Steelers in the process.

And in case you've forgotten, cutting players like Batch and Moore required taking a cap hit for their contracts in 2001, at the exact time most NFL GMs finally got their bleep together to figure out how to keep most of the players that would have helped the Lions get better faster from hitting the street to begin with.

Help me out here. How much Head Coaching experience did Fox and Lewis have as compared to Mariucci? Hindsight is 20/20 when those assistant coaches turn out well, isn't it? Further, having come off of what turned out to be a poor hire, hiring another Assistant Coach that had no Head Coaching experience wouldn't have been very smart now, would it have?

I don't worship the guy. He's average. He makes mistakes, but he makes good business decisions that make the team money, which is the job of the President of a club. As a player personnel evaluator, he's below average on veterans, and slightly above average on rookies. He's very good at working the draft board on the first day.

But this villification of a person who took an organization that was run in a manner that was parallel to the city of Detroit's government (which is to say, not well at all) reformed it, and brough the team's practice and game day facilities and business procedures into the 21st century has to stop.

Or you need to stop living your ego vicariously through other football players and, when they don't achieve what you feel they should, take it out on the front office. This is a bigger deal on this board, than it is in Detroit.

by Stiller Fan in Cle (not verified) :: Fri, 08/12/2005 - 4:00am

I'm enjoying reading this and have little to add except:

1. I haven't cared about the Lions since Bettis got screwed on that coin toss.

2. Hartings has been worth every penny the Steelers gave him; he's moved to center and actually managed to make Dermontti Dawson's retirement bearable.

3. Millen is less of a traditional president and more like a czar. I definitely can't speak to his business acumen, but it shouldn't take 4 years to field a competitive team, if indeed they are this year. To me, Kevin Jones seems to be the first potential star they've actually developed in that whole time.

4. The upcoming season will probably decide the verdict on whether Millen has succeeded. If they come out flat this year, I think that the Lions officially go from rebuilding to perennial bottom feeder. If they do well, the rebuilding proccess might have been a touch long, but successful.

Anyway, let me finish by saying that I don't see how any team will be able to pay 3 (or quite possibly 2) #1 quality receivers and be able to field a decent team under the cap after their rookie contracts expire.

by Erasmus (not verified) :: Fri, 08/12/2005 - 4:32am


1. Unfortunately that may have been the Lions best moment in years.

2. Hartings is one player I wish the Lions still had from that 99 team-we were busy throwing money at #3 WRs instead.

3. Shaun Rogers is the biggest star player the Lions have produced in the Millen era. Though Jones and R. Williams seem to be up to that task as well. Hopefully Boss Bailey and Lehman are as well.

4. If the Lions come-out flat its because of Bears 2004-like QB play. To me there is no way this team finishes below .500-well unless our WRs get hit by the injury bug again.

and the Lions probably have no intention of keeping all 3 WRs. But when one of them has only played 5 games in 2 seasons you got to hedge your bets somewhere.

by Stiller Fan in Cle (not verified) :: Fri, 08/12/2005 - 7:11am

Good call on Rogers, I must admit that my knowledge of NFC defensive tackles is less than admirable...

Oh yeah, and let me just say that I hope the Lions play well just to bury all the annual hype of Farve...

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Fri, 08/12/2005 - 10:47am

I understand that the Lions roster Millen inherited may have been getting old. But it shouldn't take four years of totally sucking before the possibility of a good team exists again. I know it's an extreme example, but Baltimore had a similar purge (though for cap reasons) several years ago, and they did it while remaining somewhat competitive, and were back in playoff contention after a year. San Fran had a similar purge in the late 90's, had one bad year (Young's last/Garcia's first), then were back in contention almost immediately. Roster turnover is understandable - taking four years (in which they won as many games as a freaking expansion team won in three - my favorite stat from PFP) is not.

I also find the argument that "he makes the team money" pretty unconvincing. The same could be said of the outstanding job Elgin Baylor is doing running the Clippers, and I doubt he could get hired by anyone else. In an environment like the NFL or NBA, where there is labor cost certainty, set at a certain percentage of guaranteed income (which they get whether they're the Pats or a team as sucky as the Lions), I'm pretty sure a 9-year-old could run a team profitably. Heck, the Bidwells make a profit in Arizona, and less fans go to their games than many high school games in Ohio.

by Daniel Warehall (not verified) :: Fri, 08/12/2005 - 11:16am


4. Don't you mean if the actually start winning, they move from perennial bottom feeder to rebuilding? I'm confused...

by Erasmus (not verified) :: Fri, 08/12/2005 - 11:31am


those Ravens and 49ers teams that went through their cap purge actually had talent on their team that they were building around. The Lions were rebuilding around Johnnie Morton and Robert Porcher. I mean, the Lions wish they had Ray Lewis or Chris McAlistar or Jamal Lewis or Jonathan Ogden or Peter Boulware-and just say they were rebuilding.

The Lions at the start of the Millen era were one of the oldest teams in all of football-I think only the Raiders were older (not totally sure though). They now only have 4 starters over the age of 30 and most of their key players are entering their primes. If they are going to do anything this year is the year to tell.

by Jerry (not verified) :: Sat, 08/13/2005 - 12:35pm

Yep, you don't know what you're talking about. The Lions make money for two reasons:
1. The taxpayers built them a nice new stadium. Millen had NOTHING to do with the government's decision to spend tax money in that way.
2. The NFL has a multi-billion dollar deal with the networks. Millen had NOTHING to do with negotiating that deal.

It's hilarious that you think Millen has done a good job. Go ahead, keep sniffing Millen's jock. But don't expect anyone to take seriously what you have to say.

by Erron (not verified) :: Sun, 08/14/2005 - 8:08pm


Could you please name some of these incredibly talented players you claim Millen has brought to the Lions? I watched quite a few Lions games last year and I sure as hell didn't see them. Then I watched the Lions-Jets preseason game and the Jets were pushing the Lions' starters up and down the field. Then I read the Sporting News scouting guide where they ranked the Top 200 players in the league, and the Lions had only two in the Top 200. Only the Cardinals had fewer. So what do you know that those scouts don't know? And why does what you know not translate onto the field? Are you just the type of person who likes Millen because he seems like a tough dude who played football the right way? Can you please name some specific personnel moves that Millen has made that were good, and then explain why these good decisions have resulted in 16 wins over four years? If you can't, stop wasting the rest of our time with your stupid postings here.

by MDS (not verified) :: Sun, 09/18/2005 - 9:12pm

Yep, do you still think Millen has done a good job as Lions team president?