(ALLEN PARK) - Have the Detroit Lions turned the corner?
After undergoing two dismal seasons where they combined for just five wins, suddenly,
not unlike the old Beach Boys song, the Lions are feeling "good vibrations."
It all started when Detroit moved quickly to sign Steve Mariucci as their head coach. Mariucci provided the franchise with an air of professionalism and the knowledge that came from being in an organization that almost never lost. Indeed, owner Bill Ford Jr. once said that the 49'ers were a team the Lions benchmarked as a model of how to run a franchise.
Mariucci didn't make any grand predictions, only that the Lions would make solid, steady, slow progress. Detroit then promoted the classy Tom Lewand from vice president of stadium construction and salary cap to President of Detroit Lions properties. The move meant Lewand would control all financial matters relating to the franchise.
While not losing any power on paper, Matt Millen learned something from the two throw-away years, humbled himself and took somewhat of a lesser role, allowing Mariucci to make the calls on player personnel and giving him significant input into the Lions draft board.
With Lewand controlling financial matters and Mariucci controlling personnel, it moved Millen into an area that he excels: evaluating talent. With everyone playing to their strengths, Detroit had an excellent draft and now all their draft picks are signed and into training camp on time.
"The last three years we've done a great job of getting [the draft picks] in on time, that's important," said Millen. "I think it's important for the team. We're all in the same boat and you'd like to get them all rowing in the same direction right from the start. There aren't any distractions, there aren't any excuses."
Lewand agreed with Millen. "We feel like it's very important to have everyone in camp on time, no distractions, keep the focus where it belongs, on the field and about winning some football games this year."
More good vibes.
Mariucci isn't putting any unrealistic expectations on Rogers either. While mentioning the names of Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens, Mariucci made it clear that he doesn't expect anything near that level from Rogers in his rookie season.
"He's not going to be as ready in that first pre-season game as he will be in the first regular season game as he will be in the Thanksgiving game.
"It's going to be a gradual learning process. I'd like to think he's going to be
on a 'fast track' but there is a learning curve."
In fact, the whole Lions' organization is in a learning process. They're learning how to become a winning organization, a lesson they lost over 45 years ago.
They're feeling good vibes out in Allen Park right now, but there is a learning curve.