Sharp: Time for Ford to clean house with Lions

The Fords aren’t selling the Detroit Lions.

Period.

Move on, everybody. Nothing to see there.

The Fords badly want to win a championship.

Can we bury the reflexive lament that the Fords are only interested in keeping the cash registers ringing? If the Fords lost any sleep in the aftermath of the Lions’ 42-17 abomination Sunday — and the subsequent 0-5 start —it’s because they’re much closer to (again) determining that the Lions (again) must chart a new path to liberate the franchise from its comically chronic underachievement. And it becomes another measure of this family’s habitual failure to properly identify the correct time to cut bait.

Owner Martha Ford apparently isn’t pleased.

But it shouldn’t stop at head coach Jim Caldwell. He’s the highest-ranked organizational face that anyone sees. He’s the highest-ranked organizational figure at whom reporters can fire questions.

Ford needs to put on notice team president Tom Lewand, general manager Martin Mayhew and every other football employee who has fattened themselves at the family trough for years.

Firing Caldwell accomplishes nothing unless Lewand and Mayhew join him in the unemployment line. It’s crazy singling out the head coach without holding those who hired him equally responsible.

The Lions simply aren’t as talented as many thought.

Yes, Caldwell must be blamed. He hired offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. He has stuck by him. The Lions’ offense stinks. Matthew Stafford resembles a quarterback interested in plotting the next chapter of his NFL career — for his sake, with another team.

But here’s where the Fords have gotten themselves into trouble before. The Lions are in self-preservation mode. It doesn’t matter that everyone’s falling off the cliff, all that matters now is who best convinces Ford that they’ve earned a safety net.

And everyone wonders why this franchise remains a joke?

“They’re not happy, obviously, which you could anticipate and understand very well,” Caldwell said Monday regarding the conversation he had with Ford following the Arizona loss. He added that nobody was more upset than ownership that a season that started with high expectations has become a dumpster fire.

And while Caldwell wouldn’t specifically use the Q-word (quit) when describing his players’ utter lack of interest, he said there were those who didn’t give 100 percent against the Cardinals. That’s intolerable. He benched Stafford in the third quarter. True franchise quarterbacks aren’t benched. But this was a direct message from the head coach to ownership that Lewand and Mayhew screwed up in squeezing square Stafford into the round franchise-quarterback role.

This is what the Lions always have done when a season trends downward: Blame somebody else.

But this also is an opportunity for Martha Ford to distance her legacy from her late husband’s. She’s running the show. She apparently is not hesitant to express her disappointment. She wants to win. And she’s getting her chance to prove that she can look at matters differently from her husband.

But that requires closing the privileged country club that has become Lions football.

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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