Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

02 Jan 2007

Lions Fire Defensive Coordinator, Offensive Line Coach

Yes, that will solve the problem, won't it.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 02 Jan 2007

39 comments, Last at 03 Jan 2007, 5:34pm by TracingError


by Sporran (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 2:32pm

You know, I'm pretty sure the Titanic wouldn't have sank if they had only chosen a different manufacturer for their deck chairs.

by David (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 2:33pm

If these people were hired by Matt Millen, the Lions probably are better off without them. Now if only there was some way to make sure that their successors weren't also hired by Millen...but I just can't think of a way to make that happen! If only the Fords were not powerless to stop him.

by JonL (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 2:43pm

Man, how far has Donnie Henderson fallen? From being a head coaching candidate to being fired by the Lions. There's nowhere to go but up.

by matt (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 2:50pm

you know, i've watched just about every lions game in the last 35 years, and i'm about this close to just saying screw it all.

i wish the fords were dead.

by Henderson (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 2:52pm

Henderson's defensive system this year was downright awful. Every QB had their way with Detroit's D.

Then again, with constant philosophical struggles with Marinelli, I'm not quit esure who to blame.

by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 3:02pm

Question for Lions fans:

If by some miracle the Fords fired Millen and hired the best GM out there (pick your favorite one, I don't wanna argue about that), would the team improve over time? Would the Fords support that GM? Or are they too interfering, or cheap, or whatever, and would drage down the team despite a qualified GM?

by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 3:03pm

Oops. Should be "drag", not "drage".

by Bill Barnwell :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 3:04pm

It just hit me!

Ford inherently hates GM. They're competitors!

As a result, they name a GM who's terrible to try and make GM as a brand look bad.

by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 3:12pm


And it has the same aura of competence that everything else touched by the Ford family possesses.

by Sergio (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 3:15pm

re: 8

It's a bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad joke... ;)

Isn't there a receiver who's highly regarded as a top pick in this year's draft? I'm seriously asking - I don't follow college football. If there is, wouldn't it be funny...

WRT not rooting for the Lions anymore, cautionary tale: I have a friend who, about 5 years ago, stopped rooting for the Lions. He was just tired of the general state of the franchise.

He now dons the colors of the Houston Texans.

by Booker Reese (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 3:22pm

That Henderson is gone is absolutely no shock, and I'm not sure it says anything about Henderson. Marinelli wanted to hire his son-in-law, Joe Barry, who coaches the Bucs' linebackers. He was going to make him a coordinator. The Bucs, who had just lost Mike Tomlin, Raheem Morris, and Marinelli, refused to let him out of the contract.

Barry's contract is up, that's why Henderson is gone.

by jdb (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 3:25pm

re: 10

Oh yeah dude, get ready for Millen to jump all over Calvin Johnson from Georgia Tech and start humping his leg and slobbering come draft day. Admittedly, the guy is wildly talented and I'm sure everything will work out great when the Lions sign Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk in the off season. Hell, Johnson might even be good enough to beat their backup QB out for playing time.
Failing that, Millen could just play it conservative and pick up Dwayne Jarrett. After all, he's had some success with USC WRs, right?

by Ferg (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 3:26pm

10: His name is Calvin Johnson and he plays for Georgia Tech. And he's really, really good, on a Larry Fitzgerald level.

Funny though, after all this fuss the Lions finally have a pair of decent WRs: Roy Williams and, uhm, Mike Furrey. Well played, Mr. Millen.

by Ferg (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 3:33pm

And as long as we're talking about it: if you're a Detroit fan, who do you want them to draft? Brady Quinn? Joe Thomas?

by jdb (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 3:39pm

well, I'm (thankfully) not a Detroit fan. In fact, as a Bears fan, I've been perfectly content to watch the Lions wallow endlessly in futility whilst the Bears have ever so briefly climbed out of that futility, though I'm sure they'll manage to f*** up next year nicely. However, I also share the pain of rooting for a usually lackluster team in the NFC North. So in the spirit of empathy...

They ought to take Joe Thomas. Or maybe Alan Branch, the DT from Michigan, if he comes out for the draft. It seems like if 90% of your team is horrible, it be best to build a solid foundation at the 2 lines first.

by DMP (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 3:45pm

I say no to Quinn. As pointed out by Russell Levine, Quinn has faltered badly against better opponents (sometimes against crappy opponents too).

CaffeineMan, I don't think money was ever the issue with the Fords. More often than not, I find myself complaining about ludicrous contracts (Charles Rodgers, Damien Woody, Jeff Backus, Fernando Bryant, even Mike McMahon!) than anything else. I think they just seem to be surrounded by bad football people, and they have affinity to those people because they are "good people" and "loyal" or whatever.

by sonofbrocklanders (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 3:58pm

if you're a detroit fan, you hope they draft that O-lineman from Wisconsin, but you know they will draft the fill in the blank 6 ft 4 WR.

This year it is Calvin Johnson or Dwayne Jarrett. Those two probably are the two best BIG WRs who will enter the draft.

by andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 4:11pm

#8 - its working! Toyota is on the verge of passing GM as the #1 automaker...

by CA (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 4:56pm

I know everybody on this site loves to hate Millen, but what do people think of the following theory, put forth by Mike Florio via his sources:

William Clay Ford secretly is an activist owner who ultimately makes the football decisions for which Millen gets credit or, more often, blame. Millen and Ford are extremely loyal to each other, so Millen takes the blame publicly while Ford protects Millen's job. Ford won't fire Millen 1. because he's grateful for Millen's loyalty and 2. because an unemployed Millen could spill the beans on the entire operation. Even if Millen does leave, voluntarily or involuntarily, Ford will continue to run the show incompetently from behind the scenes, so Millen's absence will do no good.

I'm not saying that I buy it, but it seems plausible to me.

by mactbone (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 5:23pm

Re 17:
How did their last first round lineman work out? It's easy to say that every team should work on the lines first, but it's not enough to just draft whoever - Backus and Gallery aren't doing much while the Packers got Chad Clifton late. The Lions have signed multiple big money offensive line FAs and again, they haven't worked out. So, I guess, if you're a fan of Joe Thomas, maybe you should hope he falls a little.

by sonofbrocklanders (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 5:38pm

re: 20

good point.

does anyone know how much cap roomt he lions have? Are they in a position where they have millions to throw around?

by HLF (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 6:40pm

Goodness no, please not Quinn. The only NFL equivilant to playing a service academy nearly every week is playing the Lions, and if he's on the Lions his production will suffer accordingly.

There is no conceivable rationale for Millen keeping his job. It's beyond absurd, beyond farcical, beyond even offensive. My soul is crushed, my hopes are piddled on, and the world just doesn't care. I'm in complete sympathy with #4. And anyone who would ever CONSIDER buying a Ford is insane. What an old, sick, not funny any more joke this regime has become (and, sadly, stayed).

Hopeless Lions Fan,

by noah of the ark (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 7:29pm

#19, that is the first reasonable theory I've heard on the subject. I'm pretty sure it's at least close to the truth.

by Erasmus (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 7:29pm

yeah, the Lions drafted 3 OL in a row in the 1st round (Aaron Gibson, Stockar McDougale, and Jeff Backus)..., also drafted Raiola in the 2nd round and signed Woody to a big deal. Also signed vets like Verba, Stokes, and Rex Tucker this offseason.. Unfortunately we never seem to have depth and refuse to draft OL in later rounds.

the other trench (DL)-drafted S. Rogers, Kalimba Edwards and Shaun Cody in the 2nd round, Corey Redding in the 3rd round, and signed Big Daddy Wilkinson. Plus already had James Hall.

We have pretty much done it all and we still suck. Of course by the end of this season we were missing 3/4's of our DL, we were down to I think our 4th string RB...the OL was a mess because we decided to sign veteran players that were always hurt.

What do I want the Lions to do....trade down is my first option-but thats because I think Gaines Adams is probably the smartest choice, but I do not think he is a top 5 talent...

by mikeabbot (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 8:05pm

re:CA:19: conspiracy always makes more sense than reality. reality is mostly people being stupid in random ways,certainly that's how i roll.

by jebmak (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 8:05pm

Re#4 Matt

Apologies to those who have heard this before, but...

There is a way out. My father was a Lions fan for 40 years. A few years back (pre-Millen actually) he got sick of the stupid Fords and how they ran the team. Since then he has become an anti-fan. He has Sunday ticket and he watches every Lions game to root for them to lose and look stupid doing it. He celebrates every year when they are offically eliminated from the playoffs.

Needless to say, he is much much happier during the football season now.

Try it out, there is no need to support a team with ownership that stupid.

by Yuri (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 8:16pm

Millen will be back!!!!

The hope is lost. "I'll never quit," says Millen.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 8:38pm

The current headline on ESPN.com: "Lions keep prez Millen despite continuous losing". Pretty much sums it up.

by Zac (not verified) :: Tue, 01/02/2007 - 11:31pm

Like I wrote on another board, the only possibility that makes sense to me is that William Clay Ford has got some kind of a "Brewsters Millions" scenario going on. Like, I don't know, if he drives the Lions out of business the NFL agrees to let him buy the new expansion team in Los Angeles.

Only half kidding.

by Crushinator (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 12:00am

"I'll never quit" sounds more like an unrelenting threat than a ringing endorsement.

I just feel bad for Lions fans. Everytime I think they hit a new low in depression, something new hits them

by James, London (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 12:34am

Millen won't draft a WR with the #2 pick. Instead, he'll trade it to Miami for Chris Chambers.

by kibbles (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 1:02am

Haha, the greatest quote from the Millen article on ESPN:

"I really don't want to be one or two," receiver Roy Williams said. "I'd rather be picking 31st."

There we have it. Roy Williams greatest dream is to lose the superbowl.

by kibbles (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 1:06am

The second greatest quote:

"People call me a bust, so when you get that label, there's no pressure," said (Mike) Williams, who had a touchdown on Sunday to end his 30-game scoreless streak.

Three top-10 WRs, the first of whom was cut, the second of whom aspires to lose the superbowl, and the third of whom isn't the least bit motivated by the fact that everyone thinks he's a failure. I wonder why this franchise is struggling...

That ESPN article is great. It reads like a satire piece, and is even funnier because it's actually true.

by andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 7:54am

I think there's only one winner a year (the Super Bowl winner). that's what I believe. I've always believed that.

At least Millen isn't one of those GMs that believe there is more than one superbowl winner a year.

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 9:52am

I don't think there's any reason to believe the football decisions in Detroit are made by anyone other than Millen. None of the pre-Millen coaches/GMs have ever hinted at this when they were canned. And while the money is really nice I can't imagine why would Millen allow himself to be perceived as a such buffoon unless he actually deserved it.

by Wenceslas (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 11:48am

Is hiring your brother-in-law a good idea? Is it possible to fire him if he's crap? Did he even have to interview?

Heck, this franchise sucks.

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 11:58am

kibbles, I would be delighted if the Lions ever got the chance to lose a Super Bowl.

No, really. I'd trade places with a Buffalo fan in a heartbeat.

I absolutely do not believe that Ford does anything more with the franchise than check in every year to make sure it's making money. My understanding is that he's actually, in many respects, an ideal owner: he's a hands-off guy, he doesn't make rash decisions, he's willing to open his pocketbook ... the only problems are that he values loyalty highly and he's a poor judge of talent, which is like saying that the only problems with the Titanic's voyage were that it was headed toward an iceberg and couldn't see anything else on the ocean. (Side note: I saw something on the Discovery Channel, I think, that suggested that the best thing to do would have been to run directly at the iceberg, take the hit up front, reverse engines, and limp off into the distance. If that's correct, the analogy is especially apt.)

I do not want Brady Quinn as a Lion, at all, in any way. (Of course, I wouldn't have wanted Joe Montana either ...) Thomas is a much better pick - without a solid line, it doesn't much matter who the Lions have at QB.

I'm surprised that in the accompanying Detroit News poll, 6% of those responding say that the Lions will someday have a winning record under Millen. I can only assume they are Bears and Packers fans.

I read somewhere (ah, in the ESPN article about Henderson's firing) that Henderson didn't have any experience with the system that Marinelli wanted him to use ... what's the point of hiring someone like that? Oh, never mind, this is Detroit.

Chuck Priefer is retiring? Crap. The one thing that's been a constant for most of Millen's tenure is quality special teams play. Hopefully it's as much to do with the players as with the coach ... Priefer was one of the coaches who'd stay on from regime to regime, so it's probable that this will be a big loss for Detroit.

They won't even be able to trade down that far because everyone knows the Lions are desperate for help, so they won't get market value for it, which is too bad, because what they really ought to do is keep trading down until they have about 18 late-round picks.

Oh well. Fortunately the other three teams in town know how to win.

by J.D. (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 12:48pm

37: I agree with the part about trading down, at least to the middle of the first round. My ideal first round would see the Lions trade the #2 pick for two picks between 10 and 25 (not unreasonable according to the pick value scale) and select JaMarcus Russell and an OT or a CB. Russell could learn behind Kitna for 1-2 years, and the kid has all the physical tools. Not only that, but the Massey/Thaler paper on the overvaluing of top picks has convinced me that yet another top-pick contract would be an albatross.

It's mind-blowing that Millen would be back. Regardless of whether WCF thinks he's doing a good job or not, Ford has to realize that keeping him is a huge publicity/ticket sales hit.

by TracingError (not verified) :: Wed, 01/03/2007 - 5:34pm

The Lions are a perfect example of winner's curse with regard to draft picks. Top picks year after year and they get worse and worse. A team with that many holes should try to get as many 2nd, 3rd and 4ths as it can for the 2 pick in the draft. The evidence shows that cap-wise, the top pick in the 3rd round is worth more than the number two pick in the draft, so don't worry about getting "market value". Plus, when your ability to pick is as spotty as Millen's, you want as many chances to be lucky as possible, not all your eggs and a huge signing bonus in one basket.