The man with a plan
The plan is a plan, and that alone is something unique.
While franchises like Pittsburgh and Indianapolis have stuck with a single blueprint for success over the years, the Lions, during their eight-year run of incompetence, have changed philosophies like suits. They've tried young and old, West Coast and Tampa 2, fired coaches, hired coordinators and drafted more receivers than they knew what to do with.
If Martin Mayhew and Tom Lewand are to be believed, that won't be the case anymore.
Mayhew and Lewand, the new Lions general manager and team president respectively, spoke mostly in generalities about their rebuilding plans Tuesday. Mayhew wants to get bigger and faster on defense. Lewand wants a coach who respects the personnel process. And both want to build efficiently through the draft.
Both also made it clear that, for the Lions to dig out of their eight-year-and-counting 31-97 malaise, they need everyone in the organization to be on the same page.
I think that's where we've struggled some here in the past, Mayhew said. I think sometimes it hasn't always matched up what we're doing offensively and what we're doing defensively and what our president and CEO's philosophy was versus what we were trying to do on the football field. It didn't always match up and I think that has to match up in the future.
Again, that's not a new concept, unless maybe you're Lions owner William Clay Ford and you chose to forgo a thorough GM search after hearing reports of Mayhew's work ethic and seeing the detailed plan to reshape the organization he put together a few weeks back.
Still, it's good to hear the Lions will be building from the ground up again.
A few other thoughts to close the evening:
No one except the people in the room know how much Mayhew disagreed with his predecessor Matt Millen the last few years, but I'm buying Mayhew's explanation of how things will be different now that he's in charge. Other people's role in the organization now will be implementing my plan, he said. My role before was implementing somebody else's plan. I made recommendations, I made suggestions. Ultimately, people who made decisions were the ones who were paid to make those decisions.
That should be the case in any walk of life. Yes men are dangerous and disagreement healthy, but at the end of the day it's one person's call and that person for most of the last eight years was Millen. Now it's Mayhew's turn to show what he can do.
To be clear, Mayhew will have final say in all football matters, including who to draft with the No. 1 pick if the Lions can't unload it come April. Lewand said he will be in the draft room, but have a hands-off approach on draft day. I'm not a talent evaluator, he said. I never have been and I've never proclaimed to be.
Mayhew said he plans to re-implement some of the psychological testing the Lions have gotten away from in recent years. Without it, they whiffed for non-football reasons on picks like Charles Rogers and Mike Williams. If you look at the guys who didn't make it, a lot of it had to do with their mental makeup, he said. We have to do a better job of knowing these guys, of really knowing them.
And with such an emphasis on the draft, don't expect a big free-agent splash come March, even if the Lions have cap room to spare. We're not going to be out there in free agency throwing $30 million at somebody on the first day at midnight, Mayhew said.
Total speculation here, but 36 hours into the coaching search I'm feeling Leslie Frazier as the next Lions coach. The guy won Super Bowls as a player and a coach, has experience developing young talent, and is said to have a Tony Dungy demeanor with some Buddy Ryan in his background. I think he'd fit in perfectly with what the Lions are trying to do.