The Complete Idiot's Guide to Fixing the Detroit Lions

Bleacher ReportCorrespondent IDecember 30, 2008

With the culmination of the first 0-16 season in NFL history, the Detroit Lions are preparing for their most crucial offseason in eight years.

Following the firing of Rod Marinelli, newly-appointed President Tom Lewand and General Manager Martin Mayhew gave their first press conference today after being promoted.

“To look at a team that was 0-16 and that's in the past—we go forward. But to be able to have the opportunity to turn that team around and make that team a championship team is something special and I believe we have the capability of being able to get that done,” said Mayhew.

Now, I understand that Mayhew is trying to be optimistic, but this is a team that has not won a single game since 2007. This team has no head coach along with a plethora of needs—which include a starting quarterback, another offensive lineman, and a sizable renovation to the defense.

Lions’ Owner William Clay Ford has made it clear that another front-office position is going to be appointed—with Dolphins’ Executive VP Bill Parcells and Eagles’ GM Tom Heckert being the two names thrown around by Detroit media outlets.

Along with the front office hiring, the team’s scouts need to be evaluated and possibly replaced. Charles Rogers over Andre Johnson and Mike Williams over Shawne Merriman are two of the biggest errors committed by the Lions’ organization.

As the team prepares for the draft, there are some strategic decisions that need to be made concerning their priorities.

A quarterback, offensive lineman, and defensive lineman are their three most crucial needs in the first round.

Quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Matt Stafford, along with offensive tackle Andre Smith, are the three candidates for the first selection in the draft.

The Lions have not just the first overall pick, but the 20th selection as well—from the Roy Williams trade.

It would make most sense for the Lions to select a quarterback with their first pick and make a move for a lineman with their next pick. Terrence Cody and Gerald McCoy are two possible selections for defensive lineman void, while Michael Oher and Jason Smith could fill the offensive line vacancy.

If this team expects to be competitive next year, they’ll have to make some impact signings in the free-agency period as well.

If the Lions choose to select an offensive lineman in the draft, Albert Haynesworth or Jovan Haye are two free agent tackles, but the actuality that Haynesworth comes to Detroit is about as likely as LeBron James signing with the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Lions also have major secondary needs. Takeo Spikes or Bart Scott are two players who could play alongside Ernie Sims to give the Lions a more reputable defense.

Adding another veteran cornerback and safety would be a major success to the revamping of the secondary—a major task for Mayhew and Lewand.

The Lions will be able to attract higher-profile free agents with the hiring of a head coach with a sound reputation around the league. 

Mike Shanahan is available, but there’s no chance that the team will pursue him. Bill Cowher is more interested in bringing his own personnel man to the team if he assumes another coaching position in the league, but the Jets are the most likely destination for Cowher.

However, the Lions haven’t delayed the search.  They have sought permission from many of the superior teams in the league. Right now, it’s too early to say who the team is leaning towards.

With the team’s decision to promote two assistants from the Matt Millen era, many fans are questioning the motives of Ford. He has clearly shown that winning is not the biggest priority, but rather the money-making aspect of the process.

Season ticket holders that have been loyal to the team for decades are not renewing their seats, and if the Lions fail to impress by the beginning of the season, you will be seeing fewer games on TV next year because of blackouts.

Restoring this team is no easy task. Mayhew and Lewand will be closely observed—with every move contributing to their future within the organization. Although, if Ford keeps the duo on the same leash as Millen, they’ll have eight years to screw up this team.

These two guys must be able to stand up to Ford, who has been regarded to as the worst owner in professional sports. If they want to bring in a good player who Ford doesn’t approve of, what will they do? Their decision will ultimately determine the longevity and success of their tenure in Detroit.

With the hiring of another front office man, the plan seems as though the new guy will try and turn this team around—ultimately handing over the reigns to Mayhew.

If they address at least half of the issues I mentioned in this article, this questionable experiment can be deemed successful. After all, we are talking about the Detroit Lions.