There is reams of speculation as to why Marinelli is not going to play Jordan Dizon. There is speculation that he was a Millen pick all the way, or that he is awful, injured...
My guess? He's a rookie. It's more of this irritating "playing to win" philosophy. Marinelli believes veterans give him the best chance to win now -- We are 3 games behind the pack, but a division win against Chicago would go a long way to getting Detroit back into the wide-open NFC North race.
Has anyone been watching Chicago the last few weeks? Those were fluke losses, not fluke wins. Their D is tougher than ever, and as for their offense, it is putting up decent points in an efficient manner. They can run with Forte, and have just enough passing to keep opposing defenses honest. The exact formula Marinelli wants, but can't seem to execute.
Do I want the Lions to win? Yes.
Do I think, right now, that their veterans are the way to do it? No.
Marinelli is a great guy, and a good coach. Good Head Coach? I'm not quite sure about that now. Especially at this point, his decisions are either predicated on a LOT of information we don't know (likely) but don't seem to be making sense.
There is no blitzing on offense, despite not getting pressure from the front 4. They did the same thing all through the first three games -- same personnel, everything. If they do it again against Chicago, they will have the same result. They either need to change personnel (which they haven't) or they need to change scheme (let's hope) and blitz more.
My boss the Chicago fan pointed out to me that this year Lovie has been bringing more creative pressure by dropping DE's into coverage and bringing LB and S up to blitz/pressure the QB - more of a mix between T2 and Philly's aggressive pressure D. Joe Barry showed a little bit of what he can do with blitzes in the preseason -- why haven't we seen that in games when it matters??? Is Marinelli saying too risky, is Barry too afraid? I don't have the answers, but if the Lions' coaches don't, than Lame Duck turns into Dead Duck at the end of the season.
Again, I like what Marinelli has brought as far as attitude, work ethic (attempted to anyways), and scheme (I think the T2 is a good base defense to have -- allows for interchange of players).
However, he is making a lot of the same mistakes Mooch and Morninwhig, even Martz as OC, made -- Square pegs into round holes. They need to ease off what they WANT to do and focus on doing what they CAN do.
I get it, they WANT to be a power-O running offense. But they're not. Their personnel fits a passing/play action game. In other words, pass on the play-action fakes and then toss in the runs. Passing is their strength -- get those guys going, get a lead for a change, and then dial in the ground game more when the defense is tired out in the 4th quarter. That is how NE did it last year -- 2-1 Pass:Run ratio in the first half, 2:1 Run:Pass Ratio in the second half. Ended up fairly even, but not all throughout.
As for defense, the WANT to sit in cover 2, get pressure from the front 4 and take away the big play. But they aren't. They do have the personnel to go man-up with Bodden and Smith, with a safety over the top and run blitz the heck out of the QB with a S like Alexander, a LB like Lewis or Sims, or put Avril in at LB and blitz him. His coverage skills are fairly decent, so pretend to blitz him and drop him back in coverage while a guy like Alexander or Bullocks blitzes. They have guys on the roster who can do it -- but they keep trying to do what they WANT instead of what they CAN.
I admire Marinelli's dogged determination, but there is such a thing as being too stubborn. At this point, that stubbornness is backfiring. Tom Coughlin of the NYG was being too stubborn, and it almost cost him his job. He eased up a bit last season, and made some changes he wasn't positive on, but that might work (like playing a bunch of his rookies). Look where it got them then and now. Marinelli needs to open up to some changes and see what happens -- it certainly can't be any worse than what his team has been doing on the field -- which is absolutely nothing.
Question: What is the over/under that a new GM tries to keep Marinelli and Barry on in some capacity, and bring in an offensive minded HC. Make Marinelli DC/Ast HC and move Barry to LB coach. Can the entire offensive staff except for Loeffler who seems to be doing a great job with Stanton, and Gash who is doing very well with Smith and R. Johnson.
In regards to the GM situation: A lot of the guys being rumored to be flown in/talking to are doing so in an advisory capacity -- which shows that at least an appearance of due diligence is being taken. I still don't think they should go with a full-power HC/GM. They NEED a personnel expert, like a VP of player personnel. Honestly, they can leave Lewand in as cap manager/operations. Despite what we may think due to our draft busts but he is good at getting players signed, and a lot of the bad contracts were an outgrowth of Millen's bad personnel choices. If the Lions make better personnel decisions, the cap won't be near the issue it is now -- it is all those accelerated SB for players who were cut or didn't work out that has bogged the team down -- not the contracts themselves. (though I'll see what NetRat, resident capologist feels on that score and report back.)
As for Mayhew, I did some checking on him as far as the comments that he was an "up and coming GM candidate..." Essentially, for operations and/or labor negotiations. His specialty is not personnel, and lost in the shuffle right now is the fact that although he was put in charge of Football operations, they moved someone else to an assistant GM position (Cedric Saunders) who is more of a personnel guy. Keep in mind, a Lions personnel guy, so that isn't saying a whole lot.
As for rookies not getting a chance to start, maybe Marinelli should look at Gosder Cherilus -- they were reluctant to play him, yet when he got his chance to play and start he really stepped up and got it done at a high level. Maybe that is the new blueprint to try. After 3 consecutive blowouts, what could be worse?
Doing the same thing and expecting different results.