Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
Did you get a chance to see former Detroit president/general manager Matt Millen on the NBC playoff broadcast Saturday night? Millen hadn't spoken publicly since the Lions fired him in September. The Detroit Free Press offers written and video excerpts of Millen's on-set interview with Dan Patrick.
Millen admitted he would have fired himself after a horrific eight-year run but couldn't bring himself to admit the tenure was a total failure. Millen, in fact, said the Lions are "a lot closer than people think" to success:
"I mean, right now, it's easy to just sit around and say, 'Oh, the Lions. They stink,' and kick them when they're down. But if you take a look around this league right now -- in fact, we're going to watch one [Saturday] -- Atlanta had four wins a year ago, one in Miami. I mean, it's doable. Is there enough talent up there in Detroit? Absolutely. You've got one of the top receivers in the league right now in Calvin Johnson. You've got a good, young running back. There's some pieces in place in the offensive line. Defensively, do they need some help? Yeah, they need some help. But it certainly can be done."
Many, many people would disagree with Millen's assessment of the Lions' talent base. (How many talented players can you name other than Johnson and tailback Kevin Smith?) Otherwise, Millen came off as relatively graceful and willing to take responsibility for the mess he participated in making. All of which makes him an excellent candidate to return to the broadcasting booth, where he always brought an honest assessment.
Continuing around the NFC North on wild-card weekend:
My, things sure have changed in some Twin Cities media circles. Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press suggests contract extensions should be on the way for coach Brad Childress and quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. Hmmm.
Rick Alonzo of the Pioneer Press looks at whether the Vikings could be primed for a deep playoff run.
Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune delves deep into the one key difference between Childress and Philadelphia coach Andy Reid: The Vikings' emphasis on the running game.
Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times suggests five ways to get the Bears over the playoff hump. Among them: Find a pass-rusher and a free safety.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel offers its year-end grades on the Packers. Overall for the team: D.
In its annual evaluation, the Green Bay Press-Gazette notes the improved play of offensive lineman Daryn Colledge and safety Nick Collins.