Opinion: Millen Deserves Extension

Despite dismal won-loss record, GM now has pieces in place to contend.

ALLEN PARK - When it comes to Lions president and general manager Matt Millen you can't help but be a little bit conflicted regarding his status with the organization.

His 16-48 career won-loss record would have likely gotten him fired anywhere else but Detroit, but instead the Lions have offered Millen an extension of his contract.

Some observers scoff at the notion of a GM with that kind of record getting offered anything but the door and point to it as a continuation of the poor decision making that they believe is a big part of the reason why the Lions have never appeared in a Super Bowl. Taking a look at the flip side of the coin is that now the Lions are stocked with talent at nearly every position and the reason for that is Millen.

"I think he's done a very good job,'' Lions vice-chairman William Clay Ford, Jr told the media on Sunday. "He's the first to admit there was a very steep learning curve early, but if you believe, like I do, that this is a roster full of talent, then that's the guy who did it. From this point forward, I like our chances and I like our team and I attribute that to Matt.''

When you look at Millen's approach to building the Lions, he took the most risky of them all -- tearing the team apart completely and then rebuilding it from the bottom.

The Lions suffered through the worst period of their long and storied history during a three-year stretch where they won just ten games.

However, during that time, Millen added talented players to the roster including wide receiver Charles Rogers, quarterback Joey Harrington, defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, linbackers Boss Bailey and James Davis, center Dominic Raiola, tackle Jeff Backus, safety Terrence Holt along with corners Chris Cash and Andre Goodman. Those players still form the nucleus of Detroit's speedy, talented roster.

After a rocky start dealing with free agency earlier in his tenure, Millen began to pull it together last year, nabbing free agent guard Damien Woody and corner Fernando Bryant to join previous acquisition cornerback Dre' Bly. This year's group may be the most impressive, with the additions of safety Kenoy Kennedy, wide receiver Kevin Johnson and tight end Marcus Pollard.

So it is that in 2005, Millen has a team that most observers believe will contend for the NFC North and some believe could make a playoff run.

So can we say 'Good Millen- Bad Millen'?

If so, we'll say the 2005 version has morphed from the old 'Bad Millen' in 2000 into the smart, saavy 'Good Millen' we see today.

It remains to be seen if 'Good Millen's' team actually wins games on the football field - but I believe they will -- to the tune of a double-digit win season this year.

When that happens you'll realize it's not crazy to think about giving him a contract extension, he actually deserves one.

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