Posted: Wednesday September 6, 2006 12:12PM; Updated: Thursday September 7, 2006 2:02PM
Head coach Rod Marinelli is trying to instill a new sense of discipline in Detroit.
For all the praise for the disciplined, no-nonsense approach that Millen's latest hire, head coach Rod Marinelli, has brought to Detroit, there still is no reason to believe the Lions will end their futility. More yelling and nitpicking by a new staff can't alter a team's fortunes that easily. Marinelli has to deal with the mess that Millen has created with his roster. For all his great instincts as a player, Millen has to yet to prove his worth in his primary role, as an evaluator of talent.
I'll concede that his first first-round pick ever, quarterback Joey Harrington, wasn't Millen's first choice for that spot. Reportedly, the Fords wanted Harrington and Millen grudgingly accepted the decision. But the player Millen did want with the third overall pick in the 2002 draft, Chargers cornerback Quentin Jammer, hasn't impressed too many people out west either.
Then there's the case of wide receiver Charles Rogers, whom the team cut last week. Everybody knew Millen had to trade or release Harrington, who had played his way out of town and eventually wound up being dealt to Miami, but the fact that Rogers, the second overall pick in the 2003 draft, couldn't turn his career around this offseason had to be a major blow to Millen's ego. Rogers never seemed interested in making the most of his potential, not even when it was clear that Detroit would cut him during training camp.
Now it looks as though Millen has one more bust rising up the charts, this one being last year's top pick, wide receiver Mike Williams. When you factor in Williams' laziness, his weight problems and an overall lack of productivity, it's doubtful Williams will become the star many people -- including myself -- thought he would. If nothing else, he'll serve as a reminder that Millen has a hard time reading the mental toughness of the top prospects he's added to this franchise.
So what exactly does Millen do well if his primary responsibility is finding players and hiring coaches? I give Millen credit for his candid, straightforward nature; he also wasn't afraid to ride players during practice last season once the team started tuning out head coach Steve Mariucci. And I do think Marinelli will be a good coach some day, even though that might not happen in Detroit.
However, the bottom line here is that after five years with Millen, the Lions are still a long way from being winners, and Millen is running out of time. When this season begins, no other general manager will be under as much scrutiny as Millen. And from the looks of things, he has far more odds working against him than ever before.