(ALLEN PARK, MI)--I've told you in past columns what I would like Lions owner William Clay Ford, Sr. to do to turn around the Lions.
I believe that Matt Millen has caused the most damage to the Lion franchise and should be replaced. I also believe that if Steve Mariucci of the San Francisco 49'ers becomes available, Detroit should move to hire him.
Over the weekend, some developments took place that changed things. First, Ron Wolf, the engineer of the Green Bay Packers return to prominence has resurfaced after taking four years off and appears ready to return to running a front office. Second, was Millen's firing of executive director of player personnel Bill Tobin.
Other than Bill Walsh, Wolf is the most qualified person the Lions could find to turn around this sorry franchise. Wolf is a proven winner. Because of his moves, Green Bay has enjoyed a ten-year run as a Super Bowl contender.
Wolf grabbed Mike Holmgren from a pool of contenders and identified him as a young talented coach who could take his team to the Super Bowl.
Holmgren went on to assembled a coaching staff that reads like a who's who of the NFL. Steve Mariucci, Andy Reid, Dick Lebeau, Dick Jauron and oh yeah, Marty Mornhinweg were all members of his staff. The point? Wolf could see Holmgren's had the ability; he let him do his job without interference. Success was not far away.
Ford ought to give Wolf a call. If Wolf is interested he would be an immediate upgrade over Matt Millen. He is the last remaining football 'genius' that is not employed by any NFL team.
Wolf also is an advocate of the west coast offensive system which means their would be no need to get rid of players who "don't fit" because Detroit is two years into the scheme. His age, (62 years old) and his experience (involved in player personnel since 1963) would likely make Ford, Sr. comfortable with him almost immediately.
"Ron Wolf is one of the most unique men we have in our business," said Houston Texans general manager Charley Casserly when Wolf retired in 2001. "You think about scouting and you think of him. It's amazing what he has accomplished and how long he has been doing it and how enthusiastic he still is. You have him and Bobby Beathard and a few others -- they are the true scouting greats of all time."
Despite all of that, it's not likely to happen. All indications are that Ford, Sr. will allow Millen to run the franchise for another season despite the 5-27 mark compiled by Detroit. Millen will talk Ford into giving Mornhinweg a shot at coming back as well. The only difference will be if San Francisco head coach Steve Mariucci is fired.
If Mariucci is fired, Millen will move to hire him to replace Mornhinweg. Detroit will not give up compensation to get Mariucci, meaning that if he is not fired, Mornhinweg will likely return.
How can this happen? It's because Ford, Sr. doesn't really use his great contacts and leverage to get opinions from football people around the league. Unlike Dallas owner Jerry Jones who talks to everyone and over the past two weeks has spent 11 hours talking to Bill Parcells, Ford Sr. doesn't work that way.
He is intent to stay in the shadows and generally relies upon the people closest to him for football input. Right now, those people are Matt Millen his president and GM and his son, Bill Ford, Jr.
If only Ford, Sr. would pick up the phone and call, let's say a Ron Wolf or a Don Shula just for advice, the landscape in Detroit might be different.
But judging from the moves that were made over the weekend, the incredible firing of Bill Tobin, who's first two drafts re-stocked the Lions with a lot of young talent (apparently due to Tobin bad mouthing Millen behind the scenes) and the lack of any news of talks with Parcells, Wolf or even former Saints GM Randy Mueller, you get the incredibly sinking feeling that Detroit is going with status quo.
Even Bill Ford, Jr. himself who might have had great input lost some of his football credibility by recommending Millen to his dad in the first place, likely won't get Dad's ear this time. He will have to suffer through the plodding of Millen and Mornhinweg like the rest of us Lions watchers.
What to do know Lions fans?
Hope for a first-round loss by the 49'ers. That might be the only chance of real change in Detroit.