Detroit Lions Need Federal Bailout

Mike RegisterContributor INovember 11, 2008

General Motors' stock is trading at under $3 per share. Ford is hurting and Chrysler was hoping to merge with GM to stave off bankruptcy.

With all the trouble the automakers are facing in Detroit, it seems appropriate that the local team, the Detroit Lions, are stumbling as well.

The Lions face the very real possibility of going winless this season. Of their remaining seven opponents, only New Orleans and Green Bay have a losing record (both are 4-5).

While the US government debates whether or not to bail out the automakers, I only jokingly ask, should they bail out the Detroit Lions as well? While drastic action is needed, the Miami Dolphins have shown that a big turnaround in one season is certainly possible.

Like the automakers, the Lions have struggled with bad management and a poor product. This can be traced directly back to the long tenure of former GM Matt Millen. Millen's poor choices in coaches and players have decimated the Lions. Firing Millen was a move in the right direction, but more needs to be done.

As a courtesy to the Ford family, I've devised the Lion's Bailout Plan to turn this struggling franchise around.

Step 1: Clean house of the current coaching and management staff. The Lions need to let go of everyone associated with the losing atmosphere that has surrounded this team and replace it with a General Manager that understands how to build a team.

The "Home Run" candidate is New England GM Scott Pioli. A more realistic candidate is Tom Heckert, the current GM of the Philadelphia Eagles. Then let these guys decide who to bring in as head coach. With their connections to Bill Bellicheck and Andy Reid, respectively, there should be plenty of worthy candidates to choose from.

Also, the Lions could kill two birds with one stone by hiring former Steelers coach Bill Cowher to be GM and Head Coach.

Step 2: Gut the roster. This has been one of the keys to the Dolphin's success this season; they let go of the players who didn't fit their system, or didn't have the will to win. They also sent a message to every player on the roster that they need to perform to keep their job.

The Lions have a few potential building blocks on their roster, such as WR Calvin Johnson, RB Kevin Smith, OT Gosder Cherilus, and QB Drew Stanton. They need to cut loose aging castoffs like Jon Kitna, Daunte Culpepper, Rudi Johnson, Brian Kelly, Edwin Mulitalo, and Ryan Nece. These guys are just taking time away from the development of their young talent.

Step 3: This is a no-brainer. Every team needs to draft well to win. The Lions need to stockpile draft picks by trading down and stop striking out on first rounders like they did with WRs Mike Williams and Charles Rogers and QB Joey Harrington. The Lions have also routinely failed to find hidden gems in the later rounds to build up their roster.

Step 4: Makeover the team uniforms, colors, and logos. While many will scoff at this idea, I think it would be a good psychological move for the Lions.

For the first 20 years of the Tampa Bay Bucs' existence, they wore those awful yellow outfits, and they became synonymous with losing. When they hired Tony Dungy, they changed their uniforms, colors, and logos, and things turned around.

Why not try that with the Lions? They have had six winning seasons in the last 20 years and only one (2000: 9 wins) this decade. The Patriots had more wins last season (18) then the Lions did in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2008 (through week 10) combined!