Less than two weeks after firing head coach Mike Benevides, general manager and vice-president of football operations Wally Buono said Tuesday the team is cutting ties with several veteran players, including quarterback Kevin Glenn.
"It's about winning," said Buono. "It's not about anything else."
The 35-year-old Glenn was acquired in the off-season as an insurance policy behind No. 1 pivot Travis Lulay, who was still recovering from off-season surgery to his throwing shoulder.
But Lulay wasn't healthy enough to play until early September and re-injured the joint in his only start, meaning that Glenn ended up starting all but one game for a Lions team that finished 9-9 before suffering an embarrassing 50-17 playoff loss to the Montreal Alouettes.
Glenn — who won't be offered a new contract — threw for nearly 4,000 yards and had 17 touchdown passes, but he was also intercepted 17 times in leading an attack that often stumbled at critical times.
"Professional sports, you get measured by winning, and when you don't win there's issues and usually there's consequences," said Buono. "We have to analyze where we're at, where we're going and what do we do to make sure this team is a lot more competitive, this team is a lot more exciting and this team wins a lot more football games."
Buono also announced the Lions will not be picking up the contract options for defensive back Dante Marsh, defensive end Khalif Mitchell, linebacker Jamall Johnson and punter Ricky Schmitt.
Marsh played 11 seasons with the Lions, but the 33-year-old had injury issues in 2014 and said after the Lions' playoff loss that he didn't expect to be back while at the same criticizing the team's lack of identity.
Mitchell, meanwhile, was brought back into the fold after being traded to the Toronto Argonauts after the 2012 season, however the hulking lineman who dominated with the Lions in his previous stint with the club failed to make much of an impact.
In taking his share of the blame Tuesday, Buono said there were things he could have done differently in assembling the team, including the character in the locker-room.
"When you look at the personnel and you look at the chemistry, maybe the chemistry wasn't what we wanted. When you bring in players there's always a risk that things blow up in your face," he said. "I'm not going to sit here and say that wasn't the case. Chemistry is a big part of winning and losing. Chemistry is a big part of harmony. Winning always masks your issues (and) losing always exposes your issues.
"I've never been around a winning team where everybody doesn't love each other. I've never been around a losing team where there isn't a lot of animosity or a lot of infighting or a lot of guys on different pages."
Lulay spoke to the media on Tuesday as well and said he expects to be ready for training camp, something he also said last year about this time before sitting out the first nine games of the regular schedule.
He also agreed with Buono's assessment that something was off with the Lions in 2014.
"I think it's fair to say we weren't the team that we'd hoped we would be," said the 31-year-old. "Any time you're losing and it's not going as planned, that's when those things come to the surface.
"We weren't who we wanted to be and that needs to change."
Buono spoke of the Lions getting some "new blood" on the sidelines when Benevides was axed, and said Tuesday the interview the process was already underway.
He added he had yet to seek the permission of either the Calgary Stampeders or Hamilton Tiger-Cats to speak with any potential candidates who were involved in Sunday's Grey Cup game.
"The one thing that I'm trying to formulate in my mind is what and who this next head coach is going to bring to this football club," said Buono. "The two most important people in your organization are your head coach and your quarterback. Everything goes from there."
Buono was asked about Stampeders offensive co-ordinator and assistant head coach Dave Dickenson, who said last week he would be in Calgary next season.
That declaration didn't seem to phase Buono.
"Me being the politician that I am, I'm going to ask a number of teams if I can have permission (to talk to coaches)," he said. "That's the etiquette of our business today. I will go through the proper channels.
"There are people on other teams that we'd like to talk to."
Another name that has been mentioned is that of Hamilton defensive co-ordinator Orlondo Steinauer, but Buono said his search will reach south of the border.
"We're not limiting to (Canada). We're going south of the 49th parallel too," Buono said before adding: "There are certainly qualities you want."
One of those qualities will surely be an ability to mend a fractured and fragile locker-room heading into training camp.
"We have to change the environment and the culture," said Buono. "Whether you like it or not, whether I'm hurting somebody's feelings or not, we've got to do that.
"We have to change the culture and we have to change the environment."Suggest a correction