Maybe it's because Detroit is still basking in the afterglow of Super Bowl XL at Ford Field, but it's high time to finally cut Lions owner Willam Clay Ford some slack.
It's time to stop insisting that Ford doesn't care about winning as long as his stadium is full.
Lions personnel chief Matt Millen is one of the NFL's highest-paid executives.
Former Lions coach Steve Mariucci was one of the league's highest-paid coaches.
Yet, despite Mariucci having two more years remaining on his contract, Millen fired Mariucci and hired Rod Marinelli, saddling Ford with two coaches' salaries.
Maybe Ford is keeping Millen around because he doesn't want to have to pay Millen and another general manager's salary.
Whatever. Ford has given Millen carte blanche to build the Lions and provided him with liberal use of his checkbook.
Which brings us to Millen's hiring of Mike Martz to be the Lions' new offensive coordinator.
You get what you pay for in the NFL. Martz, quirks and all, is worth the money.
Martz, former head coach of the St. Louis Rams, is an offensive innovator who specializes in the passing game.
Martz's offenses have never showcased the power running game that Marinelli prefers, but it's difficult to dispute the Rams' ability to generate plenty of yards and points.
Most of all, Martz develops quarterbacks. Kurt Warner went from stocking shelves at a con-
venience store to Super Bowl MVP. Warner replaced Trent Green, another Martz project, who suffered a knee injury with the Rams and resurfaced in Kansas City. Current Rams QB Marc Bulger owes much of his rapid development to Martz.
It's a perfect fit. Martz develops quarterbacks. The Lions eat their quarterbacks.
The Lions need Martz, who went to the Super Bowl as head coach and won a Super Bowl as offensive coordinator.
Martz should give Lions fans more confidence in Marinelli, who has never been a head coach on any level.
Besides, Joey Harrington needs Martz, who can make chicken salad out of Detroit's chicken stuffing quarterback situation.
Martz and Millen may not see eye-to-eye on Harrington. But the fact that the Lions have made Martz one of the league's highest-paid offensive coordinators may have bought Martz's loyalty and Harrington a little more time.
Martz thinks the world of Warner, who has said he wouldn't mind playing again for Martz. Warner to Detroit is a possibility.
So is Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler. Detroit has the No. 9 pick in the April draft, and Cutler is high on the Lions' draft board.
Additional credit is also due Millen, who went out and hired Donnie Henderson, the guy Millen believes was the best available defensive coordinator.
Henderson was brought in with a lot less fanfare - and for less money - than Martz.
But Henderson can have the same impact on the Lions' defense that Martz is expected to have on the offense.
Henderson, who was mentioned as a possible head coaching candidate, interviewed with the New York Jets for their coaching vacancy, then was not retained by new coach Eric Mangini.
Like Martz, who was let go by the Rams, Henderson is hungry to prove himself in his new surroundings.
Millen also has a lot to prove. And it looks like William Clay Ford's right-hand man has spared no expense in making all the right offseason moves for the Lions.
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