MOBILE, Ala -- Prior to the hire of Rod Marinelli as the next coach of the Detroit Lions, vice president Matt Millen was praised for the research and legwork that he personally invested before making the decision.
Those compliments didn't necessarily spawn from the media, but league circles and his own peers, which had privately questioned Millen's decision making.
But after the Marinelli hire, Millen has continued his pursuit of enlightenment -- including ample time spent at the annual Senior Bowl in Alabama.
While Lion scouts, under the direction of Marinelli, have talked with numerous players that may or may not be of interest to the team, Millen has been busy gathering advice. On Wednesday, the fifth-year GM spent nearly an hour with Patriots' head coach Bill Belichick. He has also mingled with Giants' coach Tom Coughlin.
Both are among several respected league personnel that Millen has spent time with at the event, and the theme remains the same: improving the Lions franchise.
A few days ago, Millen and Marinelli coaxed former Jets' defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson into joining the team in the same capacity. Although the paperwork on that deal is still forthcoming, an agreement in principle has been reached.
Meanwhile, there are rumblings that Bengals' wide receivers coach Hue Jackson -- who some credit for the success of the Cincinnati passing attack -- will be brought aboard as Detroit's next offensive coordinator. Jackson would not confirm (nor deny) the reports.
But the expected addition of Henderson on the heels of Marinelli have many league scouts buzzing about the copacetic relationship between both Millen and Marinelli. Where as each of former head coach Steve Mariucci's hires were questioned by Millen, and rightfully so, it is clear that the organization -- for the first time in several years -- has direction. And Millen is to thank.
Millen spoke at length with Colts' coach Tony Dungy prior to naming Marinelli coach, and has made 18-plus hour work days part of the norm -- including late night phone calls to coaches, GM's and other league personnel.
The concensus is, that while the proof remains in the pudding (Millen's won-loss record as GM is less than impressive), he is finally starting to "get it."
On the heels of a disappointing 2005 season, and his job security hanging in the balance, many believe that it is only a matter of time before the Lions come full-circle, and fulfill what Millen's vision was when he was first hired: A winning football organization with direction instead of disarray.
He's doing his homework. Everyone is awaiting the result.