USA Today just released their list of National Football League head coaches “on the hot seat,” or coaches that must produce some success in the next year or severely risk getting fired.
While it’s quite true as of late that coaching tenures in Detroit are short lived (just ask Mike Martz and Marty Mornhinweg), Marinelli seems to be sticking around a bit longer than most. While this could be attributed to the 6-2 mid-season record the Lions had last season, I believe it is something entirely different. I believe that Matt Millen is the reason why Marinelli hasn’t been fired.
As long as Millen has been reigning as President and CEO of the Lions, fans have wanted his head. Compiling a 31-81 record in the seven seasons he has been with the team, at the bottom of winning percentages in that time, the team as a whole has been at the butt end of many jokes.
However, for some reason beyond most fans’ comprehension, Lions owner William Clay Ford gave Millen a five-year contract extension at the beginning of the 2005 season, ensuring that Millen would be sticking around, much to the dismay of Lions fans everywhere.
To the point, the reason why Marinelli’s job isn’t on the line is because, with any other coach, the Lions aren’t going to do any better than they are right now.
To be honest, not even Vince Lombardi himself could whip this hapless team into a winner. As general manager, Millen is to blame for the poor draft choices over the years (Joey Harrington, chosen third overall in 2002; Charles Rogers, chosen second overall in 2003; and Mike Williams, chosen 10th overall in 2005; all three players are no longer with the team).
As team President and CEO, the blame for poor hiring decisions falls on him. No number of coaching changes will change that. To be fair, Millen is juggling multiple roles at the same time, but nothing warrants multiple positions for a man who, prior to coming to Detroit, has no front office experience.
With ownership siding with Millen until 2010, these troubles are set to continue. Draft picks will continue to be squandered, poor decisions will be made on all fronts, and yet Millen will keep his job. Marinelli and Millen must be sitting on the same ice cold seat, because as long as Millen keeps his job, Marinelli keeps his.