Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew had indicated during his post-season press briefing that “all aspects” of the organization’s football operations would be re-evaluated after a 4-12 season -- and his hiring of Brian Xanders earlier this week is an indication he seems to be following through.
With only a month passing since the team’s final regular season game – and with the 2012 season still ongoing – the team has already parted ways with and replaced several position coaches and as well as the team’s special team coordinator. Now, the first splash in the front office has occurred.
Xanders to fill the role of Senior Personnel Executive.
To some, the move may appear to be an insignificant acquisition that will have little bearing but in actuality this move fortifies the Lions’ front office and could increase the chances of a bounce back from a disappointing 2012.
But Xanders will play a significant role in scouting for the Lions (on both the collegiate and pro levels), where he has proven to excel.
Xanders was hired as assistant general manager for the Denver Broncos after the 2008 draft by head coach Mike Shanahan and was promoted to general manager a year later by new head coach Josh McDaniels. He remained in that role for four seasons until Broncos head of football operations John Elway decide to part ways with him after the 2012 draft.
During Xanders time as GM 32 of 35 players drafted – as well as 13 undrafted free agents – made the opening day roster. Xanders demonstrated gumption through trades, exemplified in acquiring defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley for a fifth-round selection in 2011. Many shied away from Bunkley due to injury concerns but Xanders pulled the trigger and was rewarded.
Bunkley went on to play in all games – not missing a single practice – in 2011 and was credited by his teammates for being one of the major reasons for the team’s defensive turnaround.
The offseason leading into 2011 was a key year in the Broncos turnaround, in addition to Bunkley (who has since departed via free agency) Xanders signed running back Willis McGahee, tight end Daniel Fells and drafted outside linebacker Von Miller.
The Broncos won their division – and a playoff game – in 2011 after a 4-12 season the year prior, a feat he will attempt to help duplicate in Detroit.
Mayhew said the move “positively impacts all aspects of our team's football operations” and that “Brian will effectively improve on the structure we have in place and will add another set of eyes to the evaluation process.”
The 41 year old is still relatively young and brings a wide-spanning skill set with him to Detroit.
He is no stranger to quick rebuilds and bold moves. The 2013 offseason just got more interesting in Detroit.