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Lions mailbag: Why not Brian Xanders for general manager?

With all the news from the past two weeks about the complete and total shift in the Detroit Lions organization (five firings in 11 days, which is unheard of midseason), it seemed to be the right time to see what was on your mind and try to give some answers. So here's a quick, in-season Lions Mailbag.

@mikerothstein Why isn't Brian Xanders at least in the conversation for GM? #LionsMailbag

@mikerothstein: This has been a question I've gotten for a long time now -- essentially since the Lions started to collapse under former coach Jim Schwartz. But before Thursday, there was never a reason to look at it because the job was never vacant. But with Martin Mayhew out, there's now much more reason to address it.

The quick and easy answer is this: If Brian Xanders was going to be a legitimate candidate for the general manager job in Detroit, he would be the interim GM this morning, not Sheldon White. While team owner Martha Ford took no questions Thursday, her decision to promote White over Xanders should tell you that. But why not Xanders? He interviewed but did not get the open Miami GM job after the 2013 season. He's a former GM with Denver and did a good job putting that team together, drafting Von Miller, Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas. He also completely reformed the Denver roster during his four years with the club -- a roster that has now become one of the most competitive in the league. So there's reason to think he should be a candidate and unlike White and most other people on the football operations side, he does not have deep ties to the organization, having been brought in by Mayhew in 2013.

While no one really knows what Ford is thinking right now -- it would be tough to see a scenario where she hands the reins of the football operations side of the organization to anyone involved in it right now. That's the simple answer. Now, is it possible whoever she hires keeps Xanders around as an assistant GM? Sure, why not? He's had some success in multiple organizations, but at this point it would be hard to see anyone inside the building getting a real shot at the job. That includes White, unless he makes some radical moves and that will be difficult to do since the trade deadline has passed.

@mikerothstein: Jim Caldwell isn't gone yet and it is clear owner Martha Ford likes the man and respects his ability to coach; she said that in her only public interview in June. As I wrote Thursday, though, in order to land a GM other than a Polian, it probably means Caldwell being dismissed at the end of the season because most good football front office people would want to bring in their own head coach that fits their vision.

But the answer is both are equally important. If you look at the top franchises in the league, most have long-standing working relationships between their main personnel decision-maker and the head coach. Pittsburgh has had head coach Mike Tomlin and GM Kevin Colbert for years. Green Bay has been one of the most stable coaching/front office groups in the NFL and Bill Belichick essentially runs everything in New England. You see it in Seattle, too, with Pete Carroll as the head coach and John Schneider as the GM. So that's the key is finding two people who are able to work together and work in sync with each other in a shared vision. Get that -- you win. Don't? You end up part of the NFL's continual cycle of parity.