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5 Reasons Why You Can’t Blame Matt Millen For Detroit Lions’ Poor Play In The 2000s

5 Reasons Why You Can't Blame Matt Millen For Detroit's Poor Play In The 2000s

Matt Millen Lions
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After a successful 12-year playing career, which included four Super Bowl rings, and an equally successful broadcasting career, Matt Millen agreed to become the Detroit Lions' CEO and GM in 2001.

What followed was one of the worst stretches in NFL history. Millen, a first-time GM with zero experience in the front office, went just 31-81 in seven years.

Here now are five reasons why you can't blame Millen for Detroit's miserable record.

5. Millen Made Some Good Moves

Calvin Johnson Lions
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5. Millen Made Some Good Moves

Calvin Johnson Lions
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Contrary to popular belief, not all of Millen's moves were terrible. Millen would draft several solid players like Roy Williams, Shaun Rogers and Calvin Johnson under his tenure.

Those players went on to have successful careers in Detroit, each making at least one Pro Bowl. Today, Johnson is one of the best receivers in the game, recording the most yards in a season in 2012. Millen certainly wasn't the best, but he wasn't the absolute worst.

4. The NFC North

Steve Mariucci Lions
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4. The NFC North

Steve Mariucci Lions
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If there is anyone to blame for Millen's failure, it is the success of the rest of the teams in NFC North.

Division rivals Green Bay and Chicago would win four and three division titles, respectively, from 2001-07. The Minnesota Vikings, on the other hand, would struggle, making the postseason just once, but they had four winning seasons during that stretch. Millen's teams went just 10-33 inside the division during that time.

3. Everyone Else Before Him

Detroit Lions
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

3. Everyone Else Before Him

Detroit Lions
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

If you blame Millen for his failures, you will also have to blame every GM and coach the Lions have had during the Super Bowl era.

Since the merger in 1970, the Lions have won only three division championships and made the playoffs 10 times with just one playoff win to show for it. Millen isn't the only failure that Detroit has had and he certainly hasn't been the last.

2. Draft Busts

Joey Harrington Lions
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2. Draft Busts

Joey Harrington Lions
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Instead of blaming Millen for the draft picks he made, how about blaming the players for not performing up to their high draft pick status.

Players like Joey Harrington, Charles Rogers and Mike Williams were all flops. Rogers had a good start until injuries plagued him. Harrington threw for over 3,000 yards just once, and Williams lasted only two seasons in Detroit. Millen can't be blamed for how bad his players would play.

1. William Clay Ford

William Clay Ford Lions
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1. William Clay Ford

William Clay Ford Lions
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The man to blame the most for Millen's failures was the one who hired Millen in now recently deceased owner William Clay Ford.

Ford owned the Lions since 1963, and during his more than 50-year tenure, Ford never won a title and won just one playoff game. Ford hired Millen, who had zero front office experience before taking the job. Ford also kept Millen on board too long, even extending Millen for five years in 2005.