That awful stench that was the Detroit Lions’ 2012 season is starting to fade away now that the playoffs are over. In the rear view mirror is the crushing reality that the Lions were nowhere near as good as they thought they were. After spinning out of control with a lousy 4-12 season, the Leos are back on the right track – I’m wearing my honolulu blue glasses here – with the moves they’ve shown right out of the gate for the 2013 offseason.
The front office was throughly embarrassed by the performance on the field last year. In the beginning, the team lacked talent; in the end, it’s lack of character reared it’s ugly head for the whole league to see. They knew they had to pretty much start from scratch, and the first thing they did was hire the X-man, Brian Xanders, as Senior Personnel Executive. I applaud the Fords for hiring him for two reasons: first, I like the fact that they weren’t afraid to rattle Mayhew’s cage a little in hiring his possible replacement. The second is that Xanders will bring the Lions into the new age of scouting.
The first thing Xanders will do is develop an internal system to organize the Lions pro and college scouting data. The latest trend sweeping the NFL is in-house scouting. According to Mayhew, the Lions have outsourced these scouting systems, through various companies, the entire 12 years he’s been with the Lions. Xanders did a good job in Denver and was only ousted when his boss, Denver icon John Elway, decided that he had learned enough from Xanders and was ready to call the shots himself. Xanders has excellent qualifications, and another set of eyes to do the evaluations can only be a good thing.
Maybe Xanders is already having an effect on the way the Lions do business. With unusual swiftness, they got rid of nut-job Titus Young Sr. Publicly stating that you’re better than Megatron is the surest way to prove that you’re mentally unfit to play in this league. They cut dead weight Stephen Peterman and Kyle Vanden Bosch the second day they were able to move on. Judging from the comments last week, it’s just a matter of time before Dominic Raiola gets his walking papers. This is music to my ears, because I’ve felt that Peterman and Raiola were the main reasons the Lions couldn’t run the ball recently.
I also like the fact that instead of running to Cliff Avril with a contract matching last year’s three-year, 30 million dollar offer (that he turned down), they’re going to let him find out for himself that he may only get $7-8 million a year at best. That’s a figure that the Lions can live with, because they will need to sign him in the worst way. Mayhew will have to play his hand shrewdly because they can’t let him go and then get stuck needing two defensive ends. They would have to draft one with the fifth overall pick in April if that happens. If they keep Avril, then they have the flexibility to look at other positions in this year’s first round and get a DE in the later rounds or free agency.
It’s complicated like a chess game, but that’s what makes the NFL’s offseason so interesting.