Worst team ever
The headline says it all, doesn't it? At 0-16, the Lions have achieved a level of ineptness never before known in the NFL. They're the first team to go winless in a 16-game season, the first team to lose 17 straight (dating back to last December) in 25 years, and in Sunday's 31-21 loss to Green Bay they became the first team in league history to allow two 100-yard rushers (Ryan Grant and DeShawn Wynn) and two 100-yard receivers (Greg Jennings and Donald Driver) in the same game.
The record speaks for itself, Lions coach Rod Marinelli said. I thought this team tried hard all year. I thought they gave it their best. I thought I gave it my best but sometimes your best is not good enough and it was not good enough this year.
What happened between the lines Sunday was largely meaningless and basically no different than what's gone on all year. The Packers scored two big-play, bookend touchdowns of more than 70 yards. The Lions hung close with two Calvin Johnson TDs; the score was tied at 14 at the start of the fourth quarter. And when they needed a stop in the end their league-worst defense was nowhere to be found. One play after Kevin Smith scored on a 9-yard run to cut Green Bay's lead to 24-21, Aaron Rodgers hit Donald Driver for a back-breaking 71-yard touchdown.
There were other contributing factors for sure, most notably three foolish 15-yard penalties in the second half. But Marinelli put it best when he said it was just some basic things we broke down on.
The only question now is whether this sorry season will prompt William Clay Ford to make sweeping changes (as it should). I expect Marinelli will be fired tomorrow, though Ford, the only man presently with the power to do so, is capable of surprise.
Last week, the owner said general manager Martin Mayhew and executive vice president Tom Lewand will return next year. That remains the case, though I wonder if the availability of Bill Parcells might change that in the coming weeks.
According to an ESPN report, Parcells, the architect of the Miami Dolphins' rise from 1-15 to AFC East champs, can opt out of his contract once the sale of his team is complete next month. He's long been thought to have eyes for the Lions and is about the only person who'd be able to reinvigorate this flailing franchise.
Could Parcells be wooed north for the right money and total control? I don't have a firm answer to that, but in a conference call with Detroit media two years ago he said he only had a passing relationship with the Fords.
But I do think a lot of them and I think they are some of the partriarchs of this league, Parcells said then. I have tremendous respect for those people and the people that were there at the beginning.
Quarterback Dan Orlovsky, a free agent who surely will play elsewhere next year, might still require surgery on his broken right thumb. Orlovsky put off a season-ending procedure when he was injured Nov. 2 in hopes of playing again this year. He came back against the wishes of some when Daunte Culpepper hurt his shoulder and said Sunday he'll see the doctors again and see what's the best thing for the future.
Culpepper, by the way, earned a $1-million bonus despite missing his third straight game. To trigger the incentive, the Lions had to improve on last year's total of 54 sacks allowed. They gave up one Sunday and finished with 52 for the year. Coaxed out of retirement in November, Culpepper made five starts for the Lions, completing 52 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and six interceptions. He's due another $2.5-million bonus before the start of free agency if the Lions decide to bring him back next year.
Rookie running back Kevin Smith, who finished 24 yards short of 1,000 for the season, on his boneheaded unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty that effectively ended the Lions' final drive: Bad decision, very selfish decision. It'll probably never happen again in my career, hopefully, but just let my emotions get the best of me. It's tough, but it's no excuse.
Cornerback Leigh Bodden, on what lies ahead this offseason: Obviously things need to change. This season people have already fired coaches that have won games. We're the only team that hasn't won any games so it has to be a change. Just from the top down, there's got to be a change. There's no way you can go 0-16 and keep everybody on staff along with the players. Something's got to change.
And final thoughts on 0-16 from:
Orlovsky: We will be part of history forever, and for the wrong reasons.
Smith: It's embarrassing. You try to smile not to cry, but I don't even think you can smile.
And center Dominic Raiola: This is rock bottom.