Millen: 'I'm responsible' for 0-16
Former Lions president Matt Millen said it was brutal watching his old team go 0-16 and deemed himself completely responsible for the worst season in NFL history.
When you're head of football operations, you throw it back on me, Millen said Saturday in his first public comments since he was fired Sept. 23. You can say something about coaching, say something about the players, but inevitably, I'm responsible for them so I'm completely responsible for it in my mind.
Millen spoke with Dan Patrick on NBC's Football Night in America pregame show before Arizona's 30-24 playoff win over Atlanta. Patrick asked if Millen would have fired himself considering the state of the Lions.
I would have, actually, Millen said. Probably not this year until after the season. I think when you start having changeover in an organization it filters down into the locker room. That's tough to do. I thought that was a tough position for Rod Marinelli to be in. Rod's a stud. Rod's an outstanding football coach.
Marinelli was fired Monday with a 10-38 record in three seasons as Lions coach. Since Millen left the broadcast booth for the front office in 2001, the team is 31-97 and has not had a winning season. Millen acknowledged on some level he wasn't even qualified to run the organization in the first place.
"In some areas yes, in some areas no," he said. "Certainly from a football standpoint, and Xs and Os, that's something you study for a long time. There's a whole other side to that job that you have to learn. Frankly, I didn't understand it going in and had to learn it."
Still, Millen said the Lions are a lot closer than people think to respectability.
Right now it's easy to sit around and say, 'The Lions, they stink,' and kick them when they're down, Millen said. Is there enough talent up there in Detroit? Absolutely. They've got one of the top receivers in the league in Calvin Johnson. They've got a top running back. There are some pieces in the offensive line. They need some help on defense.