Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Mayhew to make Lions' football decisions
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- They have a combined 22 years with one of the NFL's worst franchises, so what makes Tom Lewand and Martin Mayhew the right men to turn around the Detroit Lions?
Well, they've seen plenty of mistakes and said Tuesday they know not to make them again. The franchise ended the season Sunday with the dubious distinction of being the first team in league history to go 0-16.
"I'm a part of 0-16 but I also know how to fix it and how to get it right," said Mayhew, who was promoted to general manager last week by owner William Clay Ford.
Mayhew, the former assistant GM, will have the final say on all football-related decisions while Lewand, formerly the chief operating officer, will handle the day-to-day operations of the franchise as president.
Both men held those jobs on an interim basis after Ford fired president Matt Millen in September. Both will report to the owner. Millen, who oversaw a 31-84 run since taking the reins in 2001, held both positions.
The Lions fired coach Rod Marinelli on Monday after he went 10-38 in three seasons. Detroit has won just one playoff game since it won the 1957 NFL championship, and had its last winning season in 2001.
Several assistant coaches, including defensive coordinator Joe Barry, also were fired Monday; assistant director of player personnel Dave Boller was the only member of the front office dismissed. Lewand said the team also is searching for an addition to the personnel department, a sort of assistant GM.
Lewand said the team hopes to hire a new coach "as expeditiously as possible." Detroit already has permission to interview Washington secondary coach Jerry Gray and reportedly has sought permission to talk to Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
Neither Mayhew nor Lewand would elaborate on the errors they saw during Millen's tenure, saying instead they were focused on the future. But they wouldn't discuss much about the future.
"Where we've hurt ourselves in the past is by talking too much," said Mayhew, who came to the team with Millen in 2001 after being one of the heads of the XFL.
He said the team will build through the draft and late April will see the Lions have five of the first 82 selections, including the first overall pick. Mayhew would not say what position the Lions would address first.
"We need to be more physical and faster," he said. "We need tougher, smarter guys."
The Lions also have problems to address at the ticket window. Ford Field was sold out during the team's first six seasons there, but five of this season's final six games were blacked out locally. Detroit froze or cut ticket prices for 2009, but Lewand said lower prices aren't going to win over fans.
"We owe them a winning product on the field," he said. "Our actions will bring them back -- not gimmicks."