After losing their first five games before finally notching their first win of the season last week against the Chicago Bears, the Lions’ year seems almost all but over in terms of playoff and Super Bowl chances.
And although Detroit visited the playoffs last season, it’s been a rough decade for Lions fans. Having failed to win a playoff game since 1991, 2015 doesn’t look much better.
Nevertheless, this mediocre to poor play assumes continuation under the control of General Manager Martin Mayhew. Since he’s taken over for Matt Millen after the infamous 2008 zero-win season, it’s hard to argue that he should remain a part of the Lions organization moving forward, especially after what looks to be the fifth losing season under Mayhew.
After the 2011 season in which Detroit made the playoffs for the first time in years under former head coach Jim Schwartz, Mayhew did virtually nothing in the offseason to ensure another playoff appearance the following year.
In fact, his offseason action has come at the expense of the team, structuring contracts poorly, and as a result, losing key players. This past offseason, Martin’s prior structures with players like pro bowler Ndamukong Suh caused them to lose cap space and forced them to let him walk, along with others such as Nick Fairley and George Johnson.
To make matters worse, the transactions that occurred in response to those losses, haven’t paid off. Giving up both a 4th and 5th-round draft pick to acquire Haloti Ngata, who has been injured for a majority of the season, has proven detrimental to Teryl Austin’s defensive line. And with Ngata a free agent after this seasons, it’s a likely possibility that he may be gone after this year. Giving up multiple draft picks for a few snaps in one year is poor team management by Mayhew.
Nonetheless, it is impossible for general managers to predict every situation and outcome, but Mayhew has had numerous chances to improve the Lions organization, failing to do so.
Another example of poor money management deals with cornerback Chris Houston. This trend displays Mayhew’s tendency to give away large contracts without much proof of player quality. Although Houston provided Detroit with a solid year, his $25 million contract proved to be a mistake, as he was benched and let go a season later. And with Stafford struggling to find a rhythm with the offense, his gigantic contract may also be considered a mistake if he continues to perform the way he has through the first five weeks of the season.
For Detroit, its fans have been waiting for and deserve a quality season with Super Bowl potential, and if history suggests one thing, it may be that the Lions need to reevaluate their staff organization. This starts with the general manager, and Martin Mayhew has very little to back up his resume with. Thus, the first step in improvement for the Lions may not be adding key players or staff members, but by filtering the ones they have now.