Saturday, May 26, 2018
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Millen makes right move and gets his man

Everything is falling into place for new Detroit Lions coach Steve Mariucci.

He's going to more than double his salary and have a major voice in personnel decisions. The Lions are his football team from head to toe.

The most important job requirement for Detroit's new coach is that president and CEO Matt Millen must believe in him completely.

Millen and Mariucci must fully trust and respect each other. Lions players and fans must believe that Mariucci and Millen are on the same page.

Millen wanted to hire Mariucci two years ago, when owner William Clay Ford put him in charge of the franchise. Mariccui was then under contract with the San Francisco 49ers.

Mariucci has Millen's complete trust and confidence, along with some of Millen's power.

And judging by the impressive salary Millen offered - far exceeding his own $3 million annual paycheck - Mariucci also has Millen's respect, something $1 million-a-year Marty Mornhinweg never earned.

Millen couldn't afford to lose the Mariucci sweepstakes. After he fired Mornhinweg last week, he had to hire Mariucci at any cost.

I like the move. I like the fact that Millen was willing to hire someone with a bigger reputation than his own.

Mariucci's value exceeds the worth of his contributions on the playing field. In many ways, what Mariucci can bring to the Lions is more valuable than a talented free agent. The Lions need Mariucci's credibility, winning reputation and positive outlook.

The reason it was important for Millen to make a compromise and relinquish some of his authority to Mariucci is because the Lions are experiencing a credibility crisis. Millen needs Mariucci as a front man for the organization.

I'm dying to see what kind of coaching staff Mariucci is going to put together. I'll be interested to see how the Lions' jaded veterans respond to their fourth coach in three seasons. I'm curious to see how Mariucci and Millen deal with their first draft together.

The Lions have many personnel needs. Offensively, they need upgrades at wide receiver and running back. With Miami running back Willis McGahee downgraded in the draft because of a knee injury, will the Lions roll the dice and select Michigan State receiver Charles Rogers with the second pick?

Rogers could be to the Lions what All-Pro Terrell Owens is to the San Francisco 49ers.

Rogers is a brilliant talent capable of dominating a game. Owens was the key to Mariucci's ball-control West Coast offense because he forced defenses to roll extra players to his side.

Like Owens, Rogers comes with some baggage, including questionable work habits and a lack of focus.

While Owens argued with Mariucci over game-day strategy and showed a lack of concern for everyone but himself, he was a warrior on the field.

The Lions don't have to draft Rogers with the second pick. They can trade the pick in order to move down a few spots, add another pick and then gamble that Rogers will still be on the board.

Mariucci's first major personnel decision could come down to what he learned from his rocky relationship with Owens and if that experience makes him better equipped to coach a player with a similar background, like Rogers.

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