No-huddle no more
Practically, however, the offense failed for several reasons. First, Kitna is no Peyton Manning, and asking him to make so many reads and adjustments at the line of scrimmage -- all the gesturing was by design -- is a recipe for disaster. Second, though the Lions first installed the offense last month, they really only worked on it in practice last week. They didn't try it at all during training camp, and their rust showed in several miscommunications between Kitna and his receivers or up front on the offensive line.
Lastly, the move was doomed by makeup. The Lions started three rookies (right tackle Gosder Cherilus, running back Kevin Smith and fullback Jerome Felton) and a right guard making essentially his NFL debut (Manny Ramirez), and both their top receivers have shown a propensity for mental lapses on the field.
When the Lions finally started to move the ball midway through the second quarter, that perfect storm of inexperience stopped them dead in their tracks. On second-and-2 from the Chicago 42, someone failed to properly diagnose a blitz. A screen play was called. Center Dominic Raiola stood his ground to block middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, who dropped into pass coverage, and Ramirez steered defensive tackle Marcus Harrison outside to no one before peeling upfield to block for Rudi Johnson. A split second later, Kitna was dropped for a 7-yard loss, and Chicago went on to score six plays later and take a 17-0 lead.
"I just think, especially when you're playing three or four young guys, it's too much sometimes," Lions coach Rod Marinelli said. "Too many checks for them, maybe. So I just want to get back to doing something well."
Marinelli said the Lions will scrap the no-huddle as their predominant offensive philosophy heading into this week's game at Minnesota. In all likelihood, that was going to happen anyway as gameplans change from week to week in the NFL.
"I think when you're not doing anything well you kind of pull back and just go right back to the very basics, kind of where we're at," Marinelli said. "I think we've kind of evolved away from preseason too much, so I want to kind of get back to that and just keep pounding the run."
Trouble is, the run hasn't been effective either and there's little reason to believe that will change (especially against Minnesota's good defensive front). Still, on Monday players seemed content with that decision as they try anything and everything to dig out of their 0-4 hole.
"I'm totally blown away with what's going on right now," receiver Mike Furrey said. "It's a struggle. We're human and it's a struggle to come in here every day knowing that what we expected is not what it is right now. We're on the total opposite of what we even thought we'd be right now."