November 18, 2007
Conventional wisdom coming into today’s Lions vs. Giants game was that Mike Martz would get it together. After getting an attitude adjustment during the bye week (thanks to Marinelli) the Lions OC, and not coincidentally the Lions, ran off a string of exciting wins.
Last week for whatever reason Martz went back to his old ways and the Lions got humiliated. This week it was more of the same. The Lions couldn’t sustain a drive and with yet again no rushing game, the Lions impotence was evident from the start.
I mentioned earlier in the season that if Marinelli didn’t succeed you would be able to look at Martz to see why. Today again that was evident. With tensions growing among the staff and the team as it pertains to Martz and his arrogant handling of his offense, it is clearly evident that his relationship and tenure with the Lions is heading towards a bitter divorce.
The Lions came into today’s game tied with the Giants for the NFC Wild Card and today’s game would have been a critical tiebreaker should neither win their division. The frustrating thing for the Lions and their fans is that this team is not an elite team, but they are a good team when they hit on all cylinders and Martz (and his ego) are in check. So now for two games in a row his inability (Isn’t he a genius? Just ask him!) to maneuver his offense makes it evidently clear that the Lions offensive issues are more Martz related than issues with the players.
Sure the Lions have the worst tandem of tackles in the NFL, but we have seen when they take a balanced approach they can overcome that. Why is the second overall pick in the draft essentially ignored? Don’t give me any excuses about his health. He is healthy enough to play and has to be utilized.
It is known that the defensive coaches and players are frustrated with him, and I can tell you that offensive folks have also echoed the same sentiments to me as well.
If you just looked at the score the last two games you would think that the Lions defense had struggled. That simply is not the truth. Joe Barry has done an excellent job this year with the D. One thing that you have to remember is that with an offense getting multiple three and outs with short drives, with little or no rushing game the clock doesn’t run and they don’t get any rest.
The Lions fans have bought in. They love what Marinelli is serving. The team trusts him and respects him like no former Lions coach in modern history. This is Marinelli’s team. I know that when he hired Martz he assured him that the offense was his. Marinelli has to assert himself and fix this or a promising season with a good football team could fall to ruin. I predicted nine wins and it is very evident that it could happen. The issue now is not the players; the issue resides in the offensive coordinators office. Will Marinelli assert himself? We shall see.
This team has holes, but the last two weeks they have not performed as they should. That rests with coaching. Not with the defensive side though.
The Lions D is coached very well. They will have to address the offensive deficiency. There is no excuse for this offense with this talent to be so anemic. It isn’t Barry’s fault that the Lions have spent so many picks on offensive skill positions and other than can’t miss prospect Ernie Sims have failed in the draft. With what he has, he has been outstanding. On the defensive side other than Shaun Rogers who takes games off in between Hall of Fame performances you can be critical, but you can’t accuse guys of quitting.
The Lions lost today. Sadly they never put themselves in a position to win offensively. I know this. Marinelli preaches accountability to his players and he gets it. Now he has to demand it from his OC. If Marinelli doesn’t get a handle on Martz ASAP, he may be in danger of losing his players. I am not predicting that. I have 100% confidence in Marinelli and think he will deal with it. Today they were only one for ten on third down. He has to say something.
Come this off-season I don’t think Martz has any chance of a head-coaching job. I also can’t see him being back in Detroit. The problem is that if he doesn’t address Martz he is throwing away a season.
Marinelli was very testy yet again in his post-game press conference and how can you blame him? The Giants had the ball for nearly 11 minutes more than the Lions and the Lions only ran the ball 11 times out of their 54 plays.
After the game Marinelli stressed that Calvin Johnson was healthy. The sad thing is that Martz lobbied and wanted him, yet he doesn’t use him. On multiple occasions he was on the bench and they needed him. He only had three catches and one of those was incredibly acrobatic.
Tension was evident when at one point after yet another failed drive Kitna went storming off the field mad, and when he approached Roy Williams who was sitting on the end of the bench alone, he just waved him off. Kitna went to the other end and sat alone to sulk. After his performance today he shouldn’t have been calling anyone out other than his OC and himself.
One player (not T.J. Duckett) had told me earlier in the week that they planned on using Duckett more this week because the Giants struggled against a power running attack. I called him on the phone after the game and asked him what happened and he said, “Who knows man. Why talk about stuff during the week and not do it?”
This team is teetering on trouble. They are too good to be here at this juncture. Two huge losses in a row with an offense that didn’t bother to show up is not good. Four turnovers and seven penalties today against a team that struggled against the run with only 11 rushes is simply inexcusable. Kind of like the last two games.
After the game Marinelli wasn’t afraid to point out his players mistakes and he shouldn’t be. Unfortunately he didn’t call out is OC. He should have done that.