Monday, August 24, 2009

Thoughts on the Lions since last December

Last time I commented on my beloved, err, lowly Detroit Lions, they were on the verge of 0-16. Since they accomplished that feat of ignominy, I have mostly been too aggravated to post anything since there are dozens of things I need to get off my chest.

1. Rod Marinelli - I'm sorry, I learned to respect the man a lot, even kind of liked him. But his lack of gamesmanship was demonstrated a final time at Green Bay last December. The Lions had stalled a Packers' drive in their territory, forcing the punt. Instead of calling a timeout, the Lions let the clock run down, down, down, and finally when Green Bay punted, the ball got a lucky Packer bounce and stopped rolling at about either the 8- or 12-yard line with only a handful of seconds left. No chance of a drive.

His worst quality may have been his hypocrisy. Mike Williams, despite the failure he was, probably was unfairly targeted by Marinelli and then-Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz. Everyone had to "earn their place" on the team, which is why fellow Wide Receiver Charles Rogers was cut before the regular season. But why bench Williams, sign WR Az Hakim and play him immediately.

As hard as he was on Williams and Rogers, why didn't that harshness extend to Shaun Rogers, his "pet project?" Like Williams, he was overweight, lazy, and a poor leader, but apparently he had something to offer (when he felt like it).

Overall, he was overpromoted, and thus, in over his head. He was a position coach, nothing more. He may have been a devout follower of the Tampa-Two system, but everytime you saw him on the sidelines, he was always talking to the D-Line. Maybe the LBs once and again. If he wanted to be a Defensive Line coach, fine. Be one. But don't neglect the other third of the defense (the secondary) and the entire offense.

2. Matt Millen - the man should have been fired long before 2008; but firing him after three games was premature. He, like Marinelli and the rest of the organization should have had to live with it for another thirteen weeks before dropping the ax. The only thing is, Roy Williams was traded before the deadline and Jon Kitna was placed on IR, even though his injury would've only kept him out until Week 7 or 8 at the most. Had they not traded Roy Williams for a 1st Round pick (a deal no sane person could pass up), they might've eeked out a win or two. Thus, Millen might still have a job.

3. William Clay Ford, Sr. - he is 1) a liar, and 2) he does not care about the fans. Example 1: raising ticket prices after six straight sellout years at Ford Field. In this economic climate, you've produced a poor product (with one playoff victory in five decades to show for it) to your customers, and this is the way you repay them. You wonder why you can no longer sell out games and risk having the game blacked out on Thanksgiving.

Example 2: Your fondness for Matt Millen blinds you to the fact that your job as the owner is to oversee a winning franchise, in a league designed to ensure there are no permanent winners and losers. Instead of listening to fans maybe once or twice on sports talk radio, or even reading the sports section once a week, you lend your ear only to the man who needs to mollify you in order to keep his while your customers simply give up. Do the words "conflict of interest" have any meaning to you?

Example 3: Making decisions that should be left to the coaches. An overall problem with the organization is the lack of everyone being on the same page. Millen wanted to draft Joey Harrington; Marty Mornhinweg did not. It was Ford's decision, despite his denials, to play Harrington instead of Mike McMahon at the inaugural game at Ford Field in 2002. Harrington wasn't ready, had no help, then wasn't wanted by Mornhinweg's successor, Steve Mariucci, and thus endures the label "bust."

Example 4: After firing Millen, you had a 13-week headstart on finding his replacement? Any moves, like interviewing former GMs, Presidents, etc.? No, Mr. Ford sat on it. He sat on it while New England's Scott Pioli, went to Kansas City. How many Super Bowl rings does Pioli have? Three (and four AFC titles). How about Floyd Reese? In twelve years, he drafted twelve Pro-Bowlers, and even made a trip to the Super Bowl.

Who did Ford end up hiring? Tom Lewand and Martin Mayhew. Lewand was the Lions' COO, and Mayhew was the Asst. GM under Millen. Lewand is now the president, and Mayhew is the GM. Usually, when a team brings in a new front office, they are met with celebration. Their first press conference was anything but. The mood was subdued. Nobody smiled (except maybe Ford).

If anything Mr. Ford, if you're not going to sell the team, could you at least turn over the reigns to your son, Jr.? He at least seems to be proactive, even if you want to blame him for bringing in Millen in the first place. At least he admitted his bad and Millen would've been gone after 2005.

4. The new uniforms- one word, ugly. The numbers didn't need a makeover. The new "Bubbles" (the leaping lion) has a few lines drawn in him. So much for the overhype. I don't like the additional accents/piping around the V-neck. Makes it look tacky.

And while I'm on uniforms, what was so wrong with the black alternates? They were actually pretty sharp looking. I know I'm in the minority on this one, but they are much more aesthetic than the throwbacks. I get a headache just looking at those.

5. The 2009 Draft - wasn't in favor of Stafford, originally. The defense needed the most attention. Mostly the line, maybe another LB, and definitely the secondary. But you do need a QB to be the cornerstone of the franchise, so I'm reluctantly on board. I just hope they don't rush him in before he's ready to play. Let him sit a few games if not the entire season.

But Brandon Pettigrew at No. 20? You take Pettigrew when Ray Maualaga is still on the board? I don't blame Pettigrew, it's not his choice to come to Detroit, but your defense ranked the worst for two seasons straight.

Louis Delmas was the first pick of the 2nd Round. Good, but Maualaga was still on the board. And they need CORNERS. Delmas though, I liked. But it isn't enough to draft a safety with so many other defensive needs.

More to come...

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