Lions GM Mayhew feeling pressure to perform this season

DETROIT — The Detroit Lions need to win this fall, or plenty of people’s jobs will be on the line. No one disputes that.

Coming off a 4-12 season, with one winning record since the current regime took over four years ago, that’s life in the NFL.

General manager Martin Mayhew has acknowledged as much a handful of times over the past seven months, and he did so again today, in his annual preseason media session.

Mayhew, in his first public comments since April’s draft, wouldn’t say what will go into his evaluation of head coach Jim Schwartz at the end of the season or whether a playoff appearance is expected for Schwartz to keep his job.

But he didn’t hide the urgency he feels entering his fifth season as Lions GM.

“It’s the National Football League, urgency’s there every year,” Mayhew said. “I think you talk about hot seats, there are 32 hot seats. Every GM, every head coach. There’s an expectation in this league of perfection, and people are imperfect. So there’s a high expectation, a high urgency level every single season.”

In Detroit, the seat is discernibly hotter than almost everywhere else in the NFL.

Ownership has been more visible than usual through five days of training camp, with owner William Clay Ford watching a camp practice Friday for the first time since at least 2011, and vice chairman Bill Ford Jr. at the facility Sunday and Monday.

And the Lions doled out their second mega-contract in as many off-seasons, giving quarterback Matthew Stafford a three-year extension with $41.5 million in guaranteed money.

The Lions have more than $175 million in player cash commitments on their books this fall, by far the most in the NFL.

“I think what happens is the heat on the seat kind of varies week to week,” Mayhew said. “And (there’s) some guys’ seats are real cool right now, they’re going to be hot come January. So we’ll see what happens.”

Does that go for Mayhew’s seat, too?

“Thirty-two GMs, 32 head coaches,” he said. “So there’s an expectation that we have success here, and that’s across the board everywhere in the National Football League. I’m certainly gong to work as hard as I can to keep my seat cool.”

To that end, Mayhew said the Lions were conscious about the veterans they added this off-season, guys who both filled positions of need and, after last year’s Titus Young fiasco, were well-respected in the locker room.

Reggie Bush, Glover Quin, Jason Jones, Montell Owens and Israel Idonije all fit that bill for the Lions. Bush, Quin and Jones are expected to start, while Owens and Idonije will be key backups and special teams contributors.

Mayhew said he’s still looking to fill a few roster spots — the Lions still want veteran help on the defensive line — but he expressed confidence in safety Louis Delmas’ ability to be ready for the season and the secondary taking a big step forward as a group.

“We’re focused on getting better every single day now, and we’ll talk about postseason, after-season and all that at the appropriate time,” he said. “Right now, we’re trying to win football games, and we’re getting better out here. Like I said, guys showed up in great shape, guys are working really hard, it’s going to be a great practice today in full pads, looking forward to seeing it, and we’ll just keep trying to get better.”


Posted by Tribune News Services

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