Tough times in Detroit
</center>*Since hiring Matt Millen in 2001, the [Lions](/teams/detroitlions/profile?team=DET) are an NFL-worst 31-84, have not won more than seven games in a season and have had four different head coaches. The [Lions](/teams/detroitlions/profile?team=DET) went 9-7 in 2000, the year before Millen was hired.*
"I think the fans deserve better and if it were in my authority, which it's not, I'd make some significant changes," Ford said Monday.
Asked by a reporter if he believed Millen should leave the team, Ford said, "Yes, I do."
The Ford Motor Co. executive chairman is the son of William Clay Ford, the franchise's owner since 1964.
In rare interviews, the elder Ford has stood by his decision to hire Millen in 2001 and to stick with him since then. With Ford atop the franchise, Detroit has won only one playoff game and is an NFL-worst 31-84 since Millen took over in 2001.
Millen won Super Bowls as a linebacker and was an acclaimed TV analyst, but had no front-office experience when he was hired in Detroit.
Bill Ford Jr. couldn't hide his excitement on Jan. 9, 2001, after he and the Lions lured Millen away from the broadcast booth to lead the franchise.
"I'm willing to stake my reputation on Matt's success," Bill Ford Jr. said after Millen was introduced at a news conference.
In recent years, however, Bill Ford Jr. has often declined comment when asked about Millen.
A message seeking comment on Bill Ford Jr.'s Monday remarks was left on Millen's cell phone and an interview request was made via a team spokesman.
Coach Rod Marinelli, who often talks about the importance of keeping outsiders from distracting the team, declined to comment on what Bill Ford Jr. said.
Marinelli did say, as he had the previous two Mondays coming off losses, that he is confident in his players and coaches despite the results.
Marinelli said the slow starts have disappointed him more than anything besides the team's record.
"We've gotten behind so early so fast. That's disturbing," he said. "All three, we got behind very quickly and it's tough to win that way."
Tough was a word rookie running back Kevin Smith used after being benched Sunday in favor of Rudi Johnson, who had 83 yards rushing and caught a pass for a 34-yard score.
"It was the coaches' decision. They went with Rudi," Smith said Monday. "It's kind of tough, especially because we didn't win."
Marinelli said he didn't know how long or if Kitna would be sidelined, but he hoped the banged-up players and the rest of the team would benefit from the bye week following Tuesday's workout.
"I want them to get out of here because the bye happened so early this year," Marinelli said. "This is the only chance they have to really get a break for the next 13 weeks."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press