December 30, 2007
Green Bay, Wisconsin
The Lions lost…again. O.K. that wasn’t a big surprise, but it’s what I’ve got to report. Kitna didn’t get his 10 wins, Mike Martz is gone (along with a group of players) and the Lions are left asking themselves what happened?
I predicted 9 wins to start the season, and at the time I didn’t think that Mike Martz passion to get back to being a head coach would cause him to have such a terrible year as an offensive coordinator. He spent too much time looking ahead. Many of his terrible decisions cost the Lions a large part of their success. Now you can’t blame him for all the Lions woes, but he sure caused a lot of them.
Here is the biggest item to be encouraged about. The Lions more than doubled last years win total of 3. They got 7. In the NFL that is a huge number of improvement and as frustrating as the seasons ending was after a 6-2 start, that is tangible progress and it can’t be ignored. The critics have a lot of legit complaints, including whom they beat, but this is a positive that can’t be turned negative. I simply say that 7 wins in the NFL after a 3-win season is a major upgrade.
There are to many issues that require an honest negative critique and I will do that over the course of the next couple of weeks with several different articles. The Martz system was not the issue. It was an issue because of who ran it. Just like Donnie Henderson was the issue and not the D last year. Essentially the “Martz system” is an NFL spread, but Marinelli wants to see more balance and more running then he was getting.
The Lions ran today only 35% of the time (they came at 34% for the season) and that is not a stat you will see next year. Teams that win can run the ball. The Lions can’t because they aren’t committed to it. That too will change.
The Lions will address many issues and again I will address them in detail later, but I can say this: I am not an apologist and I certainly am not afraid to call things as I see them. I will do that this season also. I just think that all of us are frustrated at starting 6-2 and finishing 7-9. There is no excuse about it. The good thing is that it won’t be tolerated and Marinelli as I write this is probably already on the plane, and working on next season.
One thing that is so encouraging is that unlike past years, this team has not given up on Marinelli. They may not like his handling of Shaun Rogers, but they trust in him. This is still his team. That is a good thing since he is a capable man. Remember Lions nation that this organization has had 50-years to screw this up and Marinelli isn’t going to fix it in two.
For whatever it is worth, I think he will. There sure is a lot of frustration, but there are also reasons to be hopeful. I can say this. Next year there will be no reason for hope outside of the playoffs. No moral victories and nothing to be encouraged about. That is a bold statement, but one that is the truth. Playoffs or bust next season. The fans don’t deserve to wait any longer.
This draft cannot be a bust as so many have been in the past. The entire organization (including ownership…I can hope can’t I?) is on observation starting tonight. They have to do better with free agents and they have to draft guys that not only make it, but also contribute immediately.
If you asked Marinelli he would agree. No one is angrier than he is.
Is it to early to predict that the Lions will look long and hard at J Lehman, the LB out of ILL? It is way to early to predict that they will take him, but I know they like him. He certainly would be a great fit.