The firing of Matt Millen was only the first step in what has become a new rebuilding process for the Lions. With Millen gone, Martin Mayhew has stepped in as the Lions' new general manager for the time being. His status beyond the rest of the season is in question, but Bill Polian, the general manager of the Colts, thinks Mayhew will be a great GM.
Last week I was at the same college football game as the best general manager in professional football, Indy's Bill Polian. At halftime of the Kansas State-Louisville game, I picked Polian's brain about young GM prospects. To my great surprise he was extremely high on Mayhew, who was just promoted to assistant GM in Detroit.
Polian is convinced that Mayhew has a deep understanding of personnel and a tremendous work ethic. Mayhew was one of only four guys Polian identified as a future GM.
Polian was correct in saying that Mayhew would become a future GM as he was promoted to that position when Millen was fired. Although he wasn't hired after a search or something like that, you still shouldn't take anything away from the fact that he is the new GM.
Even with that being said and although I respect Bill Polian's opinion of Mayhew, I think it would be a huge mistake to keep him around beyond this season. I've heard that suggested by a couple people in the media, and quite frankly, that idea just frightens me. After all, Matt Millen is the one that hired Mayhew, and Mayhew said this after Millen was fired:
"Matt and I have different viewpoints on a lot of things about football, but I'm a Millen guy," Mayhew said. "I've known him for 18 years. We won a Super Bowl together."
That statement pretty much does in Mayhew's chances of staying on as the GM beyond the 2008 season in my book. Of course, William Clay Ford may see things differently, but I certainly hope that isn't the case. For me, this is the scenario I would like to see play out as we go forward without Matt Millen:
- Finish the season with the way things are, but during the remaining 13 weeks begin to formulate a list of people that could be hired as the general manager. Do homework on the people that end up on the list and start to get an idea of who should be contacted and possibly offered the job first.
- Make sure to keep an eye on the performance of every employee throughout the rest of the season. I'm talking coaches, scouts, players, and everyone else that works for this team. Give them grades or at least evaluations at the end of the year that will help the new GM decide who should stay and who should go.
- When the season is over, politely tell Martin Mayhew that his time as the Lions' GM is up. Although Bill Polian may think highly of Mayhew, there just isn't anything that he can do in the next 13 weeks that would give me confidence in him sticking around. At this point, I want someone with experience over someone unproven, and if someone unproven was to be hired, I certainly wouldn't want it to be a "Matt Millen guy."
- Go out and interview candidates for the GM vacancy and hire someone that is either a) a proven winner; or b) someone that has worked in a successful organization (i.e. New England).
- When the new GM is hired, give him complete control over everything. Unlike Mike O'Hara's suggestion, I believe that "mandating" that Rod Marinelli be the coach next year is a recipe for disaster and will turn away great candidates for the job. The new GM must have the freedom to overhaul everything as that, in my opinion, is the only way to truly get things turned around. Will it take time before things get better? Yes, but it'll take longer if the GM is stuck with people that aren't his own guys.
- The new GM can take it from here, but I will say that he probably should go find a new coach. I like Rod Marinelli, but I don't necessarily see him as someone that can take this team to the next level, which is sustained success. I want the new GM to get rid of the current coaching staff, evaluate the players that should stay and should go, and really just gut the organization and bring in his own guys.
As far as who the new GM should be, there are just too many names out there to create a list of my own, especially since we are so far away from someone potentially being hired. Even so, Adam Schefter put together a pretty solid list to go from, so I would check that out.
The only other thing I want to add is that the new GM has to be someone that comes from a winning background. Whether it is a person that is a GM already and has had success in the past or someone that has worked in a successful organization, the Lions can't play around or take any chances in this situation. They must hire someone that can get the job done; otherwise, we'll be talking about rebuilding again a few years from now.
Leave your thoughts on what the Lions should do in the comments section, and if you want, share a few names of people that should be candidates for the GM job as well.