Should Marinelli finish the season?
The Lions are 0-12 and coming off the worst Thanksgiving loss in franchise history, but I don't think there'll be a reprisal of Holiday Weekend 2005, when Steve Mariucci was fired after a similarly embarrassing turkey-day display, for one reason Rod Marinelli still gives the Lions the best chance to win.
It sounds illogical considering Detroit has lost 19 of its last 20 games and Marinelli at 10-34 has the third-worst win percentage (.227) among Lions coaches since World War II Marty Mornhinweg went 5-27 (15.6 percent) in two seasons and Dick Jauron, Mariucci's replacement, went 1-4 (20 percent) but it's the truth.
Where do the Lions turn if they fire Marinelli? Offensive coordinator Jim Colletto is severely overmatched. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry runs the league's worst unit. Passing-game coordinator Kippy Brown is the only other assistant on staff with head-coaching experience at any level, and he went 5-5 with the Memphis Maniax of the XFL.
Beyond that, money is an issue (every coach on staff is locked up through 2009, but you'd have to bump the pay of whoever you promote and there's zero chance anyone returns so that's throwing cash away for a franchise with a half-empty stadium that can't afford to) and no one knows where the real power lies. Three years ago, it was Matt Millen who fired Mariucci. Millen was canned himself earlier this year, leaving Martin Mayhew and Tom Lewand in charge. I'm not sure the Mayhew-Lewand team has the power to fire Marinelli, who said he expects to meet with owner William Clay Ford as he usually does this Monday. Ford, of course, has been disappointingly quiet all season ,and Lewand, after standing beside Marinelli at a few Ford Field press conferences earlier this year, was nowhere to be found Thursday, distancing himself from the disaster on the field.
Of course, none of those are reasons for keeping Marinelli, but this is: With four games left, the Lions are down to their last chance to avoid the infamy of an 0-16 season. Home games next week against Minnesota and Dec. 21 against New Orleans are the only things remotely close to winnable left on the schedule (don't tell Adrian Peterson and Drew Brees), and Marinelli has done a respectable job keeping the locker room together. To change coaches now would beget further chaos.
Asked Sunday if the locker room still stood firmly behind its leader, linebacker Paris Lenon offered an unflinching, Damn right.
It's not coaching, he said. It's we have to execute. We have great coaches. They bust their butts all week preparing us. They preach the little things. It falls on us. We have to do it. All of us. We have to do it.
Since I'm taking the weekend off (hopefully), here's a few leftover quotes from Thursday's debacle:
From kicker Jason Hanson, Well, we only confirmed what everybody was thinking about us as far as outside of Detroit and in Detroit. I should say outside of the locker room. You can only say we're better than this so many more times and then you can't say it anymore. So we have to do something different as players. Whatever people have done to get ready for a game, we've got to do something different. Tennessee's one of the best teams. I said earlier record-wise we're the worst. So I mean in a sense, as a result they should win. But I know everybody in here feels embarrassed that we did that on national TV.
Quarterback Daunte Culpepper, who's committed seven turnovers and been benched three times in four starts as a Lion, on whether he deserves to start next week against his former team the Vikings, You should probably ask Coach Marinelli that question , but I'm going to prepare myself to play and play to win. Turnovers happen. Turnovers happen, but that's not the end of me, that's not he end of the game. It's all about going out and trying to continue to get better.
Marinelli on whether he's still the right coach for the Lions, I do. And I feel like I just keep fighting and keep going. The record doesn't show it but I have great belief in myself. I've got great belief in myself, I always have and I always will.
Hanson again, We need a deep breath, obviously, and try to regroup. Again, I make it clear that I've seen worse locker rooms than what we have right now as far as effort and finger-pointing and throwing in the towel. We haven't done that. I don't know. Obviously everyone should be scared that we're getting close if we keep doing this, so we have to just hang together. All the athletic things that nobody wants to hear, we have to do them, stay together and not finger point and do something to get a win these last four games.
And finally running back Kevin Smith, summing up Thursday's performance on his way out of the locker room, It was (bleeping) trash, that's what it was.
Labels: Adrian Peterson, Daunte Culpepper, Detroit Lions, Drew Brees, Jason Hanson, Jim Colletto, Joe Barry, Kevin Smith, Kippy Brown, Martin Mayhew, Paris Lenon, Rod Marinelli, Tom Lewand, William Clay Ford