ALLEN PARK -- After an 0-3 start, the meltdown in Detroit has become official.
Following Bill Ford Jr.'s comment at a Detroit Economic Club event on Monday, in which the son of Lions owner William Clay Ford Sr. personally lobbied for the firing of Matt Millen, the Lions public and media relations department was in bunker mode.
Detroit canceled head coach Rod Marinelli's Monday media conference, only to reschedule it several hours later in the afternoon for reasons that are still unclear -- although undoubtedly revolve around the nightmarish campaign that is Detroit's 2008 season and Ford Jr.'s stunning remarks.
The Lions 31-13 loss at San Francisco, at the hands of former third-string quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan and offensive coordinator Mike Martz, confirmed that things aren't likely to get any better.
It also underscored the arrogance and senselessness of Millen's comment last week that the team will "stay the course."
Following Sunday's defeat, Detroit is now 31-84 under Millen's much-maligned direction as GM.
"It was an embarrassment, the fans deserve better, and if I had the authority, I would have fired the general manager," Ford said, referring to Millen. The reporter asked again if he would fire Millen, and Ford responded: "Yes, but I don't have that authority."
That comment set off a firestorm that hasn't been witnessed in Detroit since Millen took control of the team in 2001. But other than lending his father some very public advice, Ford Jr.'s comments are rather immaterial in the team's management.
Ford Sr., 83, is recognized by many as a man of significant yet sometimes unperceptive loyalty. He also has a close relationship with Millen, and has final say in all decisions regarding the team. He never speaks to the media and has a stubborn resolve.
In Marinelli's Monday briefing, which took place at 4 p.m., the head coach remained mum on the front office debacle.
"I just came out of meetings and he (spokesman Bill Keenist) just informed me of the article, and I have no comment on it, and I'll leave it at that," said Marinelli.
Marinelli has taken the brunt of criticism in each week following games, with many in the media and Lions Nation pleading for his removal along with Millen. Marinelli's defense-first attitude has yielded the league's worst defense, headed by his son-in-law, coordinator Joe Barry.
On Sunday, former offensive coordinator Mike Martz -- removed as 'part of the problem' following the 2007 season -- helped torch Detroit's miserable defense. The Lions offense, meanwhile, showed itself as a shell of its days under Martz's control. They had the ball for 11 less minutes than San Francisco, and tallied 130 less yards.
Marinelli said he chatted with Millen on the team's return flight, and again Monday morning. He said the 'stay the course' stance hasn't changed.
"In terms of what I'm doing? Stay the course, yeah. Keep working at it," he said.