Spotlight on Lions general manager Mayhew

Spotlight on Lions general manager Mayhew

Published Jan. 11, 2012 2:43 p.m. ET

Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew might prefer to be the shadowy figure of the franchise's management team, but he won't be able to be the man behind the curtain anymore.

With Matthew Stafford thoroughly entrenched as the Lions' quarterback for the next dozen or so years, Mayhew and Co. can now settle into putting the finishing touches on a Lions team that appears ready to leap into the upper echelon of the NFL.

This won't be an easy task. In fact, we'll soon get a much clearer picture if Mayhew is really the visionary that this franchise has lacked over the past several decades.

Until now, Mayhew has had a difficult job, but not as tough as you might think. As one of Matt Millen's original hires, Mayhew has been part of Lions brass for more than a decade.

When he was given the opportunity to lead, the team was on its way to an astounding 0-16 record, the lowest point in franchise history.

Since Mayhew took over the GM's chair, he has proven to have an astute football mind. He has drafted well, hired the right coach, made slick trades and his free-agent acquisitions have had a positive impact on the team.

But without trying to sound too cynical, when you take something over that has bottomed out, almost anything you try is better than what you already have.

What Mayhew has done is revive the Lions to a point where they need to make tough decisions on their own personnel and their upcoming draft picks.

Detroit has drafted high forever, and before Mayhew their track record was horrible. You would think having top draft picks year after year would eventually build a powerhouse. It never happened in Detroit.

Drafting is no longer a crapshoot if Mayhew has clear vision. His sharp sight will also be needed to decide how the Lions will keep their star players, which of their own free agents to retain, their philosophy in the free-agent market and any other aspect of his job that translates to the team he'll field.    

It all comes down to what Mayhew believes are the finishing touches to turn the Lions completely around.  

My advice to Mayhew as he faces the most difficult offseason of his GM career:

Every final decision should be made by you. After all the consulting on an issue is done, take a step back, examine all options and then go with what you want to do.

For too many years, we've heard that the Lions' front-office personnel were all over the road, that the decision-making process was a mess, so much so that when draft day arrived, many in the "war room" didn't have a clue what the Lions were going to do.

That has changed, but now because Mayhew has been successful, he'll be receiving advice constantly.
Before Ken Holland took over as GM of the Red Wings, he wanted a guarantee from ownership that he had final say on all decisions. Holland, like Mayhew, rose up through the ranks. Holland understood that people are always jockeying to advance their agenda. On Holland's team, there's only one agenda -his.

I''m not implying that Mayhew doesn't already have final say when it comes to the Lions. What I'm really getting at is that Mayhew has done a terrific job in a short period of time.

It would be a shame if it came crashing down because of infighting.