Monday, December 31, 2007

Above the Fold - Lions post mortem

The NFL season is over in Detroit. The MSM and blogosphere poke at the remains of one of the most disappointing Lions seasons in memory, and find nothing encouraging. Absolutely nothing. The roster is lacking talent, the head coach is looking for a scapegoat, and the front office remains clueless.

2008 will be another season of discontent. Such is out lot as Lions fans...

The Freep's Drew Sharp agrees with me, it's past time to blow the Lions up.

They're worse now than ever.

And that's after a Matt Millen-record seven wins in a single season.

The answer isn't sacrificing the offensive coordinator or writing one-way bus tickets out of town to the malingerers. The solution rests with changing a culture of institutional privilege that owner William Clay Ford Sr. has condoned for four decades. Politics is rewarded more than performance in this organization.

That's why nothing ever changes.

And nothing is going to change. Mike Martz will be martyred, scapegoated, and blamed. He deserves his fair share of the blame, but what ails the Lions runs much deeper than an out of control coordinator. The Lions are rotting from the inside out. Until the core is purged, they'll remain rotten to the core. And as Sharp says, a purge isn't going to happen.

With their A-List columnist hanging out with the Wolverines in Orlando, the News sent the functionally retarded one to cover the Lions. What does it say about your organization when the worst columnist in America is calling for your head, and he's not being contrary in saying so, but speaking the truth? It says that even the mentally incompetent recognize what's wrong, yet the Lions themselves can't, or won't, see the obvious.

Mike Martz shouldn't be the only one asked to leave town.

The Lions also should dump starting quarterback Jon Kitna.

Although there has been no official word on his departure yet, Martz appears to be done as offensive coordinator after two lackluster seasons. The same should be true for Kitna.

Kitna shouldn't be cut because the Lions lost seven of their final eight games -- including Sunday's 34-13 loss to the Packers -- and finished 7-9, below.500 and out of the playoffs for the seventh straight season.

He shouldn't be whacked because he predicted at least 10 victories and that he'd throw 50 touchdowns in Martz's system.

Kitna should be replaced because he's simply not good enough.

If Wobb had listed everyone that needed to be jettisoned from the Lions, it would have taken the entire front page of the sports section.

At Mlive, the Killer claims that several members of the offense disagreed with the philosophy of Mike Martz, and quit on him. Hash words from an insider. If true, it's a damning indictment as to how ingrained the culture of losing is in the Lions locker room.

There was no true universal commitment to what Martz wanted to do, but was it because it was too demanding physically and mentally and the players couldn't handle it? Did the players resist Martz because they really believed it was the wrong approach -- or because they wanted to take the easy way out?

Maybe the players were right and the Lions' offensive failures this season were rooted mostly in a lack of the running game. If that's true, then you've got to give them credit for standing up and making sure changes were made.

Winning football, though, cannot exist in a democracy. Coaches must have total control over the direction of a football team and the players, whether they like it or not, have to be committed to that approach.

Does anyone actually believe that some Lions took a stand against Martz? Considering the very checkered history of the Lions, the players will never get the benefit of the doubt. The thought they just didn't want to dedicate themselves to making the offense work, because it was just too hard, seems much more likely. Why? Because finger pointing, blaming coaches, and quiting on the season is the Lions way.

At the Oakland Press, Pat Caputo blames both Matt Millen and Rod Marinelli for the Lions sad current state of affairs, and in their scapegoating of Martz...

They can claim they have made a major change when, in truth, we all know it is not nearly enough. What is this? Kippy Brown to the rescue. Yippeee!!!

It took six and a half seasons, but the Lions of Matt Millen hit their apex after eight games this year when they compiled a 6-2 record. It appeared, however, that the Lions were living on borrowed time, which proved to be correct as they limped home with a 1-7 finish that has left this town wondering, what's next?

I think Rod Marinelli read up on Wayne Fontes tenure as head coach. Wayne-o would give the ziggy to a coordinator at the end of near every season, buying himself more time with the Fords. It worked long enough for the Big Buck to coach 7 full seasons. God forbid we have 7 full seasons of Marinelli and Millen...

Even with the scapegoating of Martz, it won't make any difference in the Lions future. The Book sees no hope. Talk about depressing...

Millen has no plan. He is running the ultimate fly-by-the-seat-of-his pants operation. As for Marinelli, "The Attitude Card" has been played too often. Just what is he trying to accomplish while piecing together a winning roster? Honestly, that's the more pertinent issue, but it doesn't sound like he has a plan, either.

No plan + no talent + no change in the front office = No hope for Lions fans

Eno joins the "Blow it all up" brigade. He knows it's tiresome to say, but "Fire Millen!" Marinelli should be in hot water too...

Marinelli, in my mind, is writing his own termination papers with the statements he makes. Every time the Lions lose -- and when they lose, they lose BIG -- he confesses to an abject failure in all areas of football: offense, defense, special teams, and worst of all, effort.

"It's on me," is his new favorite comment. It's admirable that he wants to fall on the sword, but sooner or later the person admitting to all this derelict in duty must be shown the door.

Again, not enough. President Matt Millen, clearly, isn't cutting it. If Bill Ford allows Millen to hire a fourth head coach in the face of such a hideous won/loss record, then that surely must be off the charts in terms of continued faith in a front office individual. Only the Los Angeles Clippers of the NBA, who have somehow kept Elgin Baylor employed for so long, could rival that.

Matt Millen is the worst GM in the history of organized sports. He makes the bumbling Elgin Baylor look like Branch fucking Rickey. Unfortunately for Marinelli, he will always have the stain, much like Moronweg and Mooch, of being associated with the incompetent boob. That's a stain that can NEVER be removed.

Lions Den calls the 17th straight road loss to the Packers "the most painful of all."

The Lions are not finishers. They do not finish blocks, runs, tackles, receptions, nothing. They have disintegrated in all phases of the game as the season as worn on, like the 6-2 start wore them out. The first pass to rookie prize Calvin Johnson he immediately dropped. The coaching staff may be preaching the message, but the Lion congregation is yet to believe. But they remain a big help to their opponents, kind of like the NFL’s version of the Washington Generals or New York Nationals, making everyone who play them look unstoppable.

The Detroit Lions: A bunch of hapless losers who accept their lot in life as clowns and stooges. I like the analogy to the Washington Generals. Which would make William Clay Ford the NFL's version of Red Klotz!

Lionbacker gives a short eulogy on the 2007 season as part of their always through game recap.

Frustrating is an understatement given the Lions 6-2 start and still not able to make the playoffs. Frustrating is being outplayed by the Packers second and third stringers. Frustrating is being a Lions fan!

Another losing season draws to a close, time to start thinking about free agency and the draft again. Happy New Year!

Lionbacker has it right. The Lions Super Bowl, otherwise known as the NFL draft, is only 4 months away!

I'm going to close with those Don Quixotes at Fire Millen, who are in a very melancholy mood, thanks to their futile, quixotic quest to have Millen shitcanned. Even they admit that it may never happen...

The loss yesterday means the seventh straight losing season for the Lions. Those represent the seven seasons Matt Millen has been the GM of our team. This is the third season has brought to a close, and yet he is still here. I wonder if Millen will ever be fired.

That's "Above the Fold" for Monday, 12-31-07!


  1. Marinelli's strong suit is supposed to be motivation and "coaching up." Since he's got players on both sides of the ball giving less than their best effort, then he has clearly failed as coach. Whether or not the players are in open revolt, they are obviously not giving their best effort. I live out of market, so I never get to (or should I say "have to") see the Lions, but they were on my local station Sunday. And boy, I don't know when I've ever seen such a half-hearted effort on both sides of the ball. Bad tackling, alligator-armed receivers, inaccurate passing. And a big fat "star" defensive lineman often seen gasping for breath on the bench.

    Not that Marinelli is going to lose his job, because that would mean Millen admitting he was wrong, which would obviously raise questions about himself that he doesn't want to answer.

    As for why we care: we love the Lions just like we love Detroit. We root for victory in the face of incessant defeat. Someday it will happen: the Pistons, Red Wings, and Tigers have all gone through long periods of utter failure, and then come back. (The common thread: long-overdue ownership changes. Hmm.....) And when it does happen, it will be that much sweeter for all the years of futility.

    Keep on caring, Big Al. Your combination of knowledge, passion, and great writing helps the rest of us stay sane. How YOU stay sane, I have no idea.

  2. jvwalt, I appreciate your reading TWFE, and thank you for the generous compliment.

    That was a quite well thought out and passionate comment. That's what makes the Detroit blogosphere so great, the readers know and care as much as the bloggers!

    I hate myself for saying so, but I'll never stop caring about the any of the Detroit teams, or the city of Detroit, for that matter. I'm not a bandwagon kind of guy.

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