I came across this piece that I started to write back on April 10th of this year. It has some thoughts that are just as relevant heading into camp as they were leading up to the draft, so I updated/finished it and here we are!!
I have a customer who, every time he calls, begins his phone conversation with "It all began when I was a child..." and, if you don't say "Hello *NAME*" -- he will keep going. He has stated he can go on for over 45 minutes without stopping (and I believe him!). To me, that is what many Lions fans do, and it is just as irritating.
"it all began in 2001, when Millen was named GM....his drafts....his coaches...his mustache...his record"and on...and on....and on....
After listening to Ford's interviews (both Sr and Jr, though both rare), Millen, and Rod for two years - I have come to the conclusion that when he hired Rod, (right after getting his extension) that Millen was essentially starting over. He had 5 years of "on the job" training, and had found a coach with a vision he could buy into, and understand.
I referred to something similar yesterday, but will expand upon the metaphor. In ancient Dynasties, you had the Dynasty (the overall ruling family) - but you also had individual Eras that were influenced by whomever was emperor, and in many cases, their most trusted advisers. In the biggest sense, you have Ford and the Lions as the country. Currently, the Millen Dynasty is running Lions country. After going through the Mornhinweg Era, the Mariucci Era, and a brief caretaker Era under Juron, in 2006 the Millen Dynasty entered the Marinelli Era.
This is significant, because what one emperor did, another would often undo -- and while the Emperor ruled, he was still subject to the elders of his own family, and the empire. Think of this as Marinelli is emperor of the Lions, but still subject to the constraints of being a member of the Millen Dynasty. Marinelli is basically the guy who got the throne after the treasury was empty, and the country was engaged in a war with ill-trained troops who had endured loss after loss until many felt losing was all Lions country was headed for, and the only thing keeping their enemies from looting the capital weekly was a bunch of overpaid guys with some talent and no loyalty. But, he (unlike some of his predecessors) has the full support of Lions Country, and the guts to make the hard calls. So he has to do three things:
1. Train what he's got, and hope it works until he can get something better
2. Change the Culture
3. Fix the finances
4. Ditch the Overpaid Mercenaries
5. Develop his own troops
In 2006, the Lions made a few cuts, and re-signed guys who had the potential to emerge as leaders and great players. He also moved to fill some glaring needs as he could, put was hampered by the cap implications of 3 sour top ten picks, who were no longer with the team, and fat FA contracts on the books. So he focused on #1. (so much so, someone filed a complaint with the league) and #2.
He really has to continue to make #4 and 5 work to make 2 and 3 happen. Thus far, it looks like he is making a lot of progress, but that does not mean the Lions Country has established any kind of dominance.
They have shown that they can win well at home (5-3 in home games last year) but that they could still do better at protecting their borders. That is one thing that needs to be improved on even more this coming season.
After protecting your borders, it comes down to invading thy neighbors and beating them down at home to get any further. I.E. - they must win on the road. 2-6 there last season, so not doing great on the whole invasion thing. Until they can consistently bring it to others in their own house, they will be a middle of the pack country holding tight and trying to protect their borders.
It will be interesting to see, heading into camp, how the players are practicing. In order for this team to succeed, the last 3 years of draft picks and FA really need to step everything up a notch. From unknowns like IAF, the rookies, Bullocks from injury -- to the new backbone of White, Redding, Bodden... How well will everyone elevate their game? Will they be able to take it on the road and hand out some good old fashioned butt whoopin??
IF the players come together, and that culture is changed, and the list of 5 is closing in on improving -- then they may be able to march into at least enough victory to enter the postseason. At the worst, they shall be able to hold even. (8-8). IF not....
Can't wait until the Ifseason is over, and the "roll the tape and see what you got season begins..."