Sonny’s Side Note: New changes for the Detroit Lions
This past week, the Detroit Lions made bold moves concerning the top of their totem pole. Team president Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew were given their pink slips on Thursday, dismissed by the woman at the helm and long time owner, Martha Ford.
This move came two days after Mayhew stated that the Lions would be buyers at the trade deadline. And when he made no effort to acquire new players, Ford cut the cord. This season has been an overall disappointment thus far, and Ford is trying to salvage whatever she can of this lost season by making a powerful executive decision before the offseason.
At the beginning of this season, Ford was assumed to be as nonchalant as her husband, William Clay Ford, who passed away this year, but has had a change of mood towards the team she invests in. The team remained the same as previous years, not including Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley who relocated during the off-season. However, expectations at the beginning of the season were still high for a talent-loaded team with Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford, and DeAndre Levy leading the way.
Flash forward nine weeks. The Lions sit at the bottom of the NFC North with a 1-7 record, their offensive coordinator gone too. Jim Caldwell’s job is secure as team babysitter, but will also be given his walking papers at season’s end. Stafford’s future in Detroit as the franchise quarterback is uncertain and faces speculation as to his return. Megatron is getting older, but is still a fan favorite for the Lions. Ford doesn’t regard his importance as she thinks there are better options that could fill Stafford’s position. She will hire people along with new leadership to help with the roster haul that is inevitable this offseason.
This is all Ford’s elaborate scheme to etch her name into Lions’ history by turning the ship around and taking full control. She is barely seen at the team’s facilities, rarely gives her input on football related operations, which is why such a bold move comes to a surprise to not just many teams around the league, but the staff within the organization. If she is trying to reestablish her absolute authority, she has certainly been successful. But, at what cost?
Mayhew took over the team in 2008 from Matt Millen, leading his team to two playoff appearances in 2011 and 2014. However, Mayhew shows a horrendous track record of draft picks with no remaining picks from the 2010 and 2011 drafts on the roster. Suh and Fairley are gone along with second round picks Titus Young, Ryan Broyles, and Mikel Leshoure. Mayhew acknowledged the fact that he needed to do a better job drafting players. It’s a common problem around the league, but to be a great team, you have to make great decisions. Ford was the one to hire him, but now that she finally understands her organization, she is ready to move on to a new era.
Lewand was the man in charge of the operations of their facilities and stadium. He contributed considerably to the construction of Ford Field and even changed the team’s logo and uniforms in the last decade. He could’ve been kept around as he was a cornerstone from building the team up off-field, but according to Martha Ford’s “clean house” protocol, he will be relinquished along with his associates.
Ford appreciates what both of them have done for her organization, but felt it was time to move on and get new leadership under her belt. Her message has been very clear: no one has a guaranteed job next year. That said, the whole Lions organization will have the rest of the season, nine games, to prove to their owner that they can compete and have a desire to improve their franchise to an exceptional level.
Interim GM Sheldon White will take over till a suitable replacement can be found. Brian Xanders has been mentioned, but if he gets hired that’s keeping around some of the personnel of the old regime. That’s not what Ford has in mind now that has she has made it clear that it won’t be the same old Lions in the new Martha Ford regime.