Behind Enemy Lines: Part I

Why does Millen run the Lions? What are Lions fans saying? Find out the answers to these questions and more in this Q&A with Packer Report.

Nate Caminata, publisher of our partner site in Detroit,, answers questions from Packer Report editor Bill Huber.

1. The one thing everyone wants to know: How does Matt Millen still have a job?

I don't even think the Haldron Collider could answer that question, but it's probably the one hope Detroit has of getting rid of him (see: end of the universe). Two questions will perpetually plague the Lions organization when the Millen-era is reflected upon: Why did they hire a mediocre color commentator to run a professional sports franchise, and once that error became obvious, why didn't they fire him?

2. What is the feeling among fans there after getting spanked by the Falcons?

Lions fans in our message board typically enter each season cautiously optimistic (I know, I know ...), and while this year was no different, an undefeated preseason and great reports from training camp had people believing the team was finally rebuilt under Marinelli. Speculation hit critical mass when ESPN's Tom Jackson proclaimed Detroit division champs in his pregame show before the Atlanta debacle. So, after the first 15 minutes of Sunday's game (when the Lions were down 21), that optimism was replaced by a bitter hatred and diabolical rage that would make most European soccer fans blush. Think Robert DeNiro's character from "The Fan."

3. Once he's up to speed, how will Rudi Johnson mesh with Kevin Smith? With two quality backs, is that the offense Marinelli wants to run?

Detroit wants to wear opponents out with the run, and both Johnson and Smith are capable of doing that — especially as a tandem. The idea behind turning the Lions into a run-first oriented team is two-fold in that it will make the passing attack that much more potent, especially if the play action can be sold. It will keep the defense off the field by balancing the time of possession, something that devastated the team in 2007.

4. Is Calvin Johnson ready to become a superstar?

Johnson is poised for an explosive campaign. Even when he went relatively ignored at Atlanta, he managed seven grabs. He's too strong to be pushed around at the line of scrimmage (a favorite tactic of Green Bay's defensive backs), too fast to stay with him stride-for-stride, and too tall to challenge him for a jump ball. This is the year where Johnson rises to stardom, and Roy Williams becomes the sidekick — a role he seems completely content with so long as Detroit wins ...

5. How is the defensive line without Shaun Rogers?

 Did you watch Sunday's game?

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