Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Above the Fold - The 6-2 Detroit Lions

I'm sure you've heard that the Detroit Lions are 6-2. As you might imagine, reactions range from stunned to, well...Stunned.

In the Freep, the beat writer Rod Marinelli told, "I don't need your respect," Nick Cotsonika, gives his midterm grades. With no reason to grade on a curve, the marks are damn good, as you would expect for a 6-2 team. The highest grade grade, an "A," going to the coaching staff. No grade is given for Matt Millen, but let's give him a "F," just because.

Marinelli has the Lions headed in the right direction. There is a lot of room for improvement, but the feeling is that the team is on the way up.

Offensive coordinator Mike Martz still doesn't have his unit clicking, but he has become more balanced lately. Joe Barry, in his first year as defensive coordinator, has his unit making big plays. Stan Kwan, in his first year as special teams coordinator, has had his ups and downs.

Last year, the Lions were 2-6 at the halfway point. This year, they're 6-2. That's a turnaround. And that's the bottom line at this point.

Michael Rosenberg talks to the Lions' long-time, long-suffering, long-in-the-tooth, but still very good kicker, Jason Hanson. The best segment of the interview is finding out that Hanson has the same outlook as Lions fans, cautiously optimistic...

And like most fans, Hanson has learned to couch his optimism. He says things like, "As it stands right now, it's put us on a good foundation" and, "Yeah, I'm pumped." At the same time, it's tempered with, "It's just gonna get harder," and, "I've gotta do better."

Who can blame him? Hanson arrived in 1992, when getting drafted by the Lions actually seemed like a good thing. The Lions had just gone 12-4 and won a playoff game. They had Barry Sanders.

Sixteen years later, Hanson has attempted only four postseason field goals. He has kicked only playoff field goal in the past 12 years.

In the News, Mike O'Hara gushes over Marinelli, comparing Rod to God with "It is Rod's will and Rod's word that drive the Lions." A fitting comparison, with the bible thumping Jon Kitna as his QB. The players have bought into the "Gospel according to Rod." Hail Mary, Our Father, and Amen.

After Sunday's game, players were preaching the Gospel According to Rod.

Defensive tackle Cory Redding, a captain, talked about the higher expectations Marinelli has set.

"Marinelli talks about playmakers stepping up," Redding said. "Everybody is a playmaker. Rod Marinelli has an unbelievable amount of faith in us.

"He tells us we are an elite team," Redding added. "With him saying that, everybody in this room has to feel like you're an elite player. You have to feel like you're the best."

At Mlive, The Killer compares God Rod to Marty Moronweg, as Marinelli used Marty's infamous "The bar is high" statement several times in Monday's presser. From Marinelli, the bar being high is believable. From Moronweg, it was a "Punchline."

Marinelli drew a few snickers from the media during his weekly press conference Monday when he repeatedly said "The bar is high." Folks around here had heard that before - it was one of the first things Marty Mornhinweg had declared when he took over as head coach in 2001. It turned out to be a punchline, not a declaration.

With Marinelli, though, it's different because the results are already in. The bar has already been established and just as his team collectively reaches up to grab it, Marinelli keeps boosting it a little higher.

On the web, the Lions are the hottest of topics...

Lionbacker gives their midseason grades, and is a much tougher grader than Cotsonika, not ready to give everyone gold stars and smiley faces, by tossing a few "D" grades in the mix. Overall though, the Lions pass with flying colors, and the gang at Lionbacker think that Lions fans no longer need to wait for the other shoe to drop, as "the Detroit Lions are an NFL playoff team."

We certainly can’t argue with the results so far. This team is 6-2, a place few expected them to be at this point in the season. Their work efforts and enthusiasm have become somewhat infectious, at least to each other. It would seem that Lions’ fans are hesitant to embrace this team. Once bitten, twice shy? I can understand that. But for years (centuries, it seems) we have been asking “When?” When will this team be a winner? When will this team go to the playoffs? When will this team make us proud to be a Lions fan, instead of being laughed at for supporting these bums? Well, our time in now folks. There is no reason to be afraid.

Pride of Detroit has a game recap, and is just enjoying the ride...

Detroit played an amazing game both offensively and defensively, and may have proved that they are for real with the 44-7 victory. I won’'t voice an opinion on the subject in fear of jinxing things, but for right now, they’re 6-2 and are near the top of the NFC. I don’t know the last time I'’ve felt this good about the Lions, so I'’m going to enjoy every second of it.

Fire Millen is pissed at the Freep's Rosenberg for even half-jokingly giving the bumbling idiot that runs the Lions credit for the Lions turnaround, in a column titled "Matt Millen for president." I agree, the Lions' record has NOTHING to do with Millen.

No credit should go to Millen for this year Lion’s season…no credit should go to William Clay Ford either. Those two buffoons have caused more grief to Lion fans that one season of winning isn’t going to cure. I’m not even sure that if by some miracle, the Lions make it to the Super Bowl should they be given any credit.

No, any and all credit goes to the coaching staff, most notably Rod Marinelli, for preaching to the team to stay on an even keel and making sure they play one snap at a time and to never look beyond the team they are playing on Sundays.

That's "Above the Fold" for Tuesday, 11-6-07!

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