Replacing Millen just as important as booting him

September, 24, 2008
9/24/08
11:43
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

From this vantage point, the Detroit Lions are halfway there.

FoxSports.com reported this morning that Matt Millen is no longer the Lions' president/general manager. However it came about -- firing, resignation, mutual decision -- Millen's departure was beyond necessary if the franchise has any hope of building a playoff contender.

 
 AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
 Former general manager/president Matt Millen will no longer be calling all the shots for the Detroit Lions.

I don't want to spoil your celebration, Lions fans, but in reality the job is only 50 percent completed. The next step is much less clear. But whatever direction they go, the issue is now whether the Lions can replace him with someone -- or some people -- who are more capable of rebuilding a franchise.

That path might sound obvious, but the Lions don't exactly have a sterling track record when it comes to choosing its leaders. Millen's departure will be meaningless if the Lions don't elevate the competency in the general manager's chair.

There are several different front office structures prevalent in the NFL. Some teams give final say to their head coach. Others employ a committee system that includes the coach, a personnel evaluator and a contract negotiator. And a few still believe in the traditional authority of a general manager.

Millen's tenure illustrates the danger of an all-powerful leader with no checks and balances. While it sounds good in theory, the reality is there are very few people who are capable and well-rounded enough to make all of a team's football decisions. (Some would argue that owner William Clay Ford needs a strong, single leader to keep him from getting involved himself. But that's for another day.)

By parting ways so early in the season, the Lions have given themselves plenty of time to rip apart their front office and inspect it piece by piece. There is no rush to replace Millen during the season. They should take their time and make sure Millen's disastrous tenure was not totally in vain.

Check back for further updates and analysis as the day continues.

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