December 30, 2007
Green Bay, Wisconsin
O.K. I admit I am a little cranky. The Spartans lost the Champs Bowl, and after a marathon driving session that took me from Florida (right after the game) to Michigan, and over to Green Bay for today’s game (and don’t forget a blown out tire on the way here) this has not been my most restful weekend. That’s O.K. however because watching a football game here in Green Bay, in December is an incredible gift and pleasure.
The Lions came into this game with a lot on their plate. As many of you know, I broke the story that Mike Martz would not be back with the Lions several weeks ago (on the TV show) and finally the national media is reporting it. Truly it’s a good thing that he is leaving. He simply didn’t fit here in Detroit and you can go back to my pre-season and early season reports to confirm that I have felt this for over a year. Make no mistake however that Martz is far from the only person that will be gone.
Kalimba Edwards was a free agent that the Lions stood to lose to the Browns and I said at the time and ever since their matching the offer was absurd. He will be gone. Nice guy that looked the part physically, but couldn’t produce where it mattered. Marinelli didn’t even let him come to Green Bay. Can anyone say: SEE-YA?
Although it is not 100%, the odds weigh that Shaun Cody will be gone. I think he will. He has not panned out in Detroit and Joe Barry wants to overhaul the position and Marinelli does also. Boss Bailey is on his way out. He just never materialized into a great option for the Lions and they certainly gave him more than his share of opportunity. All three of those players are good men, and their leaving is best for the Lions, but certainly is in no way a slam on their character.
Shaun Rogers is most surely gone. Although none of my sources will confirm it as a done deal, they all agree that they don’t see how he comes back and I don’t know one player that has supported him privately to me. In fact if there has been any complaints about Marinelli from players about his handling of other players, it is only with how they perceive him getting a free ride. Those days are over. Marinelli went out on a limb for him and he didn’t do anything to honor that. In fact, one NFL executive (not with the Lions) summed it up best, “Marinelli went out on a limb for the guy and he sawed it off.”
Of course Tatum Bell (he also didn’t make the trip) and George Foster are done. They are free agents and the Lions want nothing more to do with them. Neither of them showed what the Lions are looking for.
I would be surprised, but next season is a long way away that Lehman and Lenon both return. Of course there is a chance they could, but I put it very low that they both are back. The Lions Tampa Two defense is predicated on LB play and neither one showed it. Part of that is due to the poor play of the DT position that is supposed to fill gaps in the this D, but the Lions have to address it. I was a huge advocate of Patrick Willis last season, (I will address the draft later) but getting a quality MLB is very difficult in the draft that can play immediately. I think they will address it, but next years starter may be a free agent.
The Lions want to resign T.J. Duckett. If they can get a deal done I would look for it to be a two-year deal. Marinelli loves him, and the Lions head coach and management team have been upset with how Martz used him the entire season. I know that some people (who are just ignorant) accuse me of supporting Duckett because he is a Spartan, but the facts are the facts. He was the best back in training camp according to players and Lions staff, and Martz didn’t want to use him like the rest did. Martz won the short-term battle of wills, but lost the war by being shown the door. There was disappointment that the deal didn’t get done before today, but many connected to the organization are used to being disappointed by how fast the Lions sign their own guys. Just look at Redding and Furrey last year. I asked Marinelli if he would expect deals with his free agents done sooner this year and he was emphatic that he wanted and expected it. I know for a FACT that Seattle, Chicago and the Jets all would love to talk to T.J. about playing for them next season. I know that he would like to stay with the Lions and they want him, so let’s hope the deal gets done.
Roy Williams is someone you need to keep and eye on. I said before the season that the Lions needed to try to resign him before the conclusion of the season. They didn’t and with one year left this could get messy. There is strong sentiment that if the Lions can’t work out a new deal before the draft that they may move him. Again, that is sentiment only and I am in no way saying that is the decision. I just know that you don’t want to franchise tag a guy who doesn’t want you and even though that choice would he a year away, a trade with Dallas for a defensive player could potentially be worked out. They would love to add him to their weapons, and he would love to be home. I am not reporting that he is gone at all. I am saying that it is a situation to keep your eye on.
With 15 minutes to go today and the Lions clearly out of the game, it sure was a shame to see Kitna still playing and not Drew Stanton getting reps. For all of you morons that think it is only because he is a Spartan (get a life) you’re simply wrong. He missed an entire season of practicing with his teammates and reps in games when they were essentially over because Martz wanted a journeyman in J.T. O’Harrington in case Kitna went down. His “me first and my career first” mentality is why he won’t be in Detroit next season and Drew Stanton essentially lost a year. Lions lost…again.
Today’s game told us a lot. Marinelli wasn’t willing to tell us what, but he agreed with my question. I know that sounds silly, but listen. Last year Marinelli made it clear that some of the players he decided to get rid of or keep, played their way on and off the roster by how they played in that last meaningless game. I asked him if today was that kind of game and he assured me that it was, but that he couldn’t say how individuals did until he can watch tape.
Marinelli will be meeting with ALL of the staff this week and he will begin to give his list of guys he wants resigns and targeting folks for free agency. If you are a football fanatic as I am, I am sure you love all the off-season maneuvering. Once a season is over, I start immediately looking to next. There will be a lot of changes, and a lot of building on what this season did right, and tearing down what didn’t work.