Once again, all the hope and optimism that was so widespread before the Detroit Lions' season has faded into disillusionment, bewilderment and frustration.
It is cropping up everywhere. It's a yearly tradition.
From Jeff Backus' post-game depression interview on Sunday to the fans chanting of "Fire Millen," it's all coming to a boiling point.
At 2-11, someone will be the Lions' fall guy, the scapegoat. Somebody's gotta go. Sadly, it's a staple of modern business. Whenever there's a giant failure, no matter how many people are responsible for it, one person must pay the price and essentially be labeled the cause of it all. Now it's just a matter of whom.
In this case, that person will ultimately be Matt Millen.
The players still believe in Rod Marinelli and Mike Martz. They stand behind quarterback Jon Kitna.
And we know all to well that William Clay Ford doesn't have the juevos to accept responsibility himself. The guy's wife runs roughshod over him so badly that his NFL franchise is about the only one with doesn't even have the football staple of cheerleaders, so you can't expect a rational decision to come from the man.
It should be Ford, but it will be Millen.
The Lions president and GM will be make it through the off-season. Many are surprised he is still at the helm at this point in the season, but you don't just dump your GM in the middle of the season without a replacement.
You can do that with coaches, because there are bunches of other coaches on the staff that can step in for a few games. However, there's no backup GM. So Millen's trip to the guillotine will have to wait until just after the season.
Millen was brought in with no experience in his current job and has had to learn on the spot and in the spotlight, with no one in the organization to mentor him.
Millen has stocked the Detroit roster with a good amount of talent, which is why fans are so disappointed that the team is turning out to be so wretched. The talent led to raised expectations before the season, so to say that Millen hasn't put talent on the team is ludicrous.
He's made some bad moves (drafting Charles Rogers and Mike Williams, among others), some good moves (drafting Shaun Rogers and Ernie Sims, robbing the Browns of a second-round pick and arranging for Damien Woody to miss his flight out of Detroit) and some horrible moves (calling a player cowardly and directing a slur at Johnnie Morton). For every Bill Schroeder or Az Hakim there's been a Casey FitzSimmons, Kenoy Kennedy or Dan Campbell. (Give Millen a pass on Joey Harrington, who is widely known to have been a pick foisted upon him by Ford -- although the player Millen wanted to pick instead hasn't fared much better).
But batting .500 won't get you too far in the GM world. Just ask Randy Smith. Dave Dombrowski had to come in and hit nearly 1.000 to get the Tigers to the World Series (OK, maybe .950 -- don't forget the Neifi Perez whiff).
How much of the Lions' 23-70 record during his tenure is Millen's fault? Who's to say?
But the blame will be his to bear -- and who can argue that he shouldn't? -- thanks to an owner who can't admit his own failings in running an automobile giant or a football peon.
Fairly soon, Millen will join thousands of Ford autoworkers in the unemployment line.
And there was much rejoicing.