On Thursday, February 7, Lions general manager Martin Mayhew spoke on-camera for the first time since the end of the 2012 season. Below is the transcript of Martin's conversation with WXYZ Sports Director Tom Leyden:
Tom Leyden: You’re the most senior level guy with this organization that we’ll have a chance to talk to, so there’s a lot questions. You’ve got to know that. Not only from us, but from the fans, so there’s a little combination of both. I guess the natural one is, coming off a 4-12 season that most people view as disastrous, how do you, I don’t know if “grade out” is the right word, but how would you summarize what you experienced this fall?
Martin Mayhew: Well it was very bad; I would put it like that. It didn’t go well. As an executive here, our goal is to get it right and we have to do everything we can to get it right. We kind of understand what happened and a lot of those things as you start to explain them sound like excuses. We’re not going to make excuses. We’re going to perform better. I played in this league for nine years, so I’m used to being criticized. When you don’t perform you get criticized in this business, and so, you know, we’ve got thick skin. We’ll deal with that and we’ll do everything we can to get things right going forward.
Tom Leyden: Let’s start with the coaching staff and the coordinators. The main guys are coming back. I throw this at you: You look at a team, and I know it may not be fair to compare teams, but you look at a team like the Falcons, who after 2011, went to the playoffs and they decided that wasn’t necessarily good enough and they got rid of their offensive and defensive coordinators. You decided that you wanted to stay on the same path: bring back Scott, bring back Gunther, bring back Jim. What is it about this coaching staff that you have full confidence in moving forward?
Martin Mayhew: Well one, they all have a great deal of experience and all have been very successful at different times. Going back, looking at our organization, though, from when I started here, I think the first six-seven years that Matt (Millen) was here, every year there was change. There was a new coordinator or a new head coach – every single year – and what I saw from that is really it made it all seem disjointed. It really sort of disconnected us. Our scouts who are on the road weren’t sure what kind of players they should be looking for. Our players don’t know what to expect from our coaches. Our coaches don’t know our players and what our players can do and what our players can’t do. And so you’re sort of always swimming upstream in those situations, and so my experience has been to develop some continuity, some consistency.
Tom Leyden: You look at some of the guys who you have picked, from Titus Young, who had a history of some issues, some run-ins with players and coaches growing up. Bill Bentley had some history with his shoulder. Jahvid (Best) had some history with concussions. These are guys who had red flags. Do you need to do a better job of determining who you take a risk on when somebody comes into the league with red flags like that?
Martin Mayhew: I think the thing for me to do is to continue to work toward improving our draft every single year. That’s what my goal is. Our draft process, our draft decision-making needs to get better every single year. And there are guys that we’ve taken who had risk who’ve performed very well for us, and likewise, guys who we’ve taken with no risk who haven’t panned out for us. We want to keep honing the process and making it better and better, and I have confidence in our ability to make that happen.
Tom Leyden: You said today, “Titus Young had no trade value,” and I know it was only one team, but one team did act quickly to claim him. Were you surprised at that and what are your thoughts on him getting picked up by somebody else so quickly?
Martin Mayhew: No, I got a call from another team as well who decided not to pick him up. You know, he’s a talented guy. He’s very inexpensive. We’ve put claims in on guys before to take a look at them and they weren’t guys that we’d give anything up to get. I seriously doubt, in fact I know, St. Louis wouldn’t have given us anything for Titus Young in that circumstance, in that situation, and it’s my job to know, sort of, what a guy’s value is. I wish him the best there. I’m not going to get into his whole situation because he’s playing for a different team now. I wish him the best and I wish them the best with him.
Tom Leyden: When you look at the season that Calvin had, is there a part of you, like I know there’s a part of a lot of fans, that feels that, unfortunately, it was somewhat of a wasted effort given the 4-12 record of this team?
Martin Mayhew: Wow, a wasted effort you think?
Tom Leyden: Well, it’s just he plays so well, and you’d like to see that effort equate to more wins and a playoff appearance.
Martin Mayhew: It was phenomenal for me as a football fan,