Tuesday, October 21, 2008

No Talent? No Coaches? No Problem!

Welcome to the Detroit Lions!!

My apologies - the entire DetFan1979 clan from the Mrs. on down have been fighting horrible colds/illness for the past week or so. I also haven't had a chance to catch the Lions-Texans game on tape-delay.

I did catch the highlights -- including wondering if there is a separate definition of pass interference (both offensive and defensive) that pertains to the Lions?

I love this picture of pass interference...I mean, a defender "breaking up a play"...on Killer's article about the team lacking talent. Could you see the refs making calls like that on Randy Moss? Andre Johnson? Terrell Owens? Roy Williams now that he is with Dallas?

I've skimmed the articles available, and looked over the email you kind readers have sent, and have a few things I'd love to chat about.

When I was but a lowly intern some years ago, the company I was with had a Financial Services Representative. When he had been hired two years before, he started out with a bang. No one had been in that position for almost ten years. Most of the staff didn't know the difference between whole life, term life, and the cereal. (Isn't whole life the one with a couple different whole grains in it so it's healthier? one of our service people asked me.) To protect the innocent, I'll refer to the new guy as Buddy. Buddy was just out of college (I was still in college, btw) at MSU and thought he was the shaving cream. He came in with a swagger, and picked all the low hanging fruit and said "This is easy! I'm ready for this!". He was great at making proposals -- he could run through the variables in practice sessions like no other. (at this point I was his assistant ie doing the grunt work) He could prepare like nobody's fool. When he talked to the other employees about referrals, he was a smooth talker that got them fired up about asking.

Unfortunately, Buddy also didn't do quite a few things well that were essential to long term success. He would overwhelm the service staff so thoroughly with his explanations, that even people who previously referred quite a few leads to him were totally confused to as to what they should be doing, and how. "Ask. Ask is all you need to do." But his explanation of how was, shall we say, not getting through.

He also applied his brilliant answers to his customers -- who were so deeply confounded by what he was saying that a few would sign up and hope -- the rest would just wander away confused. Buddy practiced great, but when it came to crunch time...well, not so wonderful. Buddy was an Insurance Work-Out Warrior.

Buddy started getting caught up the part of a Financial guy...going to long lunches with "potential" big clients. He looked at the referrals that were coming in, and honed in on the wealthiest, figuring they were the ones who would make him succeed. He was struggling selling, and the more he struggled, the more he felt he needed to work on one or two big cases to save his year. Buddy was almost obsessed with it.

What was even crazier, is that while he was focusing on these sales that might never happen, he was ignoring the bulk of the referrals coming to him. Everyone (me included) could see that if he would just talk to them, he would have a lot of sales -- and he would still be able to take his shots as the big ones. But Buddy would have none of it. He was convinced that what he was doing was the way to succeed and he couldn't be deterred.

Buddy lost the office. The referrals stopped coming in, as staff realized he wouldn't work on them, so what was the point? Even if he did, he wasn't very good at selling them anything so the likelihood they would get a bonus from him selling something wasn't worth the trouble. Now Buddy had no choice but to stick with his chosen cases -- they were all he had.

Finally management was nice enough to type him up a letter telling themselves he was resigning to take a job in accounting somewhere and have him sign it and hand it back to them. On a Friday afternoon.

The problem was, he had appointments scheduled. Sales still needed to be made. Interested parties needed to be called. But there was LITERALLY no one in house qualified to take his place. They really didn't think that one through. It also brought to light the fact that, as a first time Financial Services guy, he really shouldn't have been under of the tutelage of someone else who had never done it before...

The Lions really can't/shouldn't fire Rod before the end of the season because there is no one on staff qualified to replace him. Kippy? Coletto? Kwan? Barry? Beuller?

Rod is a babysitter of the team for the next ten games. He will try his best to win, and will likely fail. He will be gone at the end of the season.

Rod Marinelli is a first time HC who was hired by a first time GM. Rod is good at doing what assistant coaches do -- run hard practices, don't takes risks with your guys, get tough, get ready.

Come game day, he is still in practice mode. No risks. It appears they are not even running plays as complicated as they did in preseason. If your filmseason stuff is more vanilla than the preseason games -- you WILL NOT win in the NFL. Rod can't adjust in-game to what is going on. He has to "think it through" later. Looking at it later and tweaking and filling holes is what assistants do. Adjusting in-game is what coordinators and head coaches do. Assistants help plan -- HC/DC/OC implement the plan. Not everyone can do both.

Rod and Buddy have a lot in common, as you can see. Both practiced well. Both were first timers, under someone who really wasn't helping the situation. Both of them got lost in their own message and lost the team supporting them. Both of them had means for a chance at success in front of them (Buddy's referrals, Rod's rookies), but neither would take that chance.

I took over the FSR position at the agency because I wrote them a letter telling them why I was the right man for the job. I took his stack of referrals, used it win over the office staff and even wrote 2 cases in my first year that were larger than either of the "big ones" Buddy was working on. You don't know what you have until you look at it.

Rod won't know what his players have until he looks at them. At 0-6, what has he got to lose?? Rod's "guys" - like Lenon, Darby - are comparable to Buddy's big cases. Buddy thought he would win with cases everyone but him could see were going nowhere. Rod is trying to win with Veterans everyone but him can see are going nowhere.

One other interesting point: I am horrible in sales "practice". Awful. I am adaptable in real-life situations, and instinctively know what I need to do. Practice, for me, was to get the knowledge I needed to be able to go with my gut. The bosses were worried because they felt I didn't know the plan they would follow in an appointment well enough for a large client. I told them to put me in there, and see what I had. One of them came with me, but then just sat and let me run the show. After we left (successful) she asked me why I hadn't done that in practice? My response? I don't practice a good appointment - I run a spectacular one.

Rod is sticking with guys who practice a good week, not who play lights out on Sunday. He is sticking with what he thought would work, not with what has worked. Point: The Lions were best, defensively, in the Minnesota game where they played a lot of man coverage and blitzed and brought pressure from various spots. My prediction of victory figured they would continue this since it had worked. They didn't. And they didn't win. Back to the same old same old. Same with Kevin Smith. And throwing to CJ. And playing the rookie defensive guys.

One more sales quote that applies, then I'll leave you be: My first sales manager told me to keep one thing firmly in mind, every day - and to say it front of the mirror as I was putting my tie on:

Everybody has strengths & weaknesses. Everybody needs to minimize their weakness, and maximize their strengths. Everybody can still improve today. Everybody is not perfect. Everybody means ME.

Have the leaders of the Lions, the front office, the coaches, and the players, been looking in the mirror every morning? Or is everybody somebody else?

8 comments:

CHIEFGER139 said...

good article
DONT KNOW ABOUT YOUR PERSONEL LEGACY but think you have it dead on with coach rod-he rewards the practice warriors even at the exspense of hurting the team. they need someone who recognizes talant and potential talant not a drill sargent. what there doing isnt working and truthfully i dont think hes putting his best players on the field. I will say though-mayhew should eventually force him to play the young guys or rod resigns if thats what it takes-we cant go through this entire season without taking a good look at everyone on the roster so we know what to keep and what to weed out.

ClusterFox said...

Great story DF79, I know just what you mean. I've never been one for practice or Role-playing.

Food for Thought-
Maybe they know what they have in K.Smith. Maybe thier 0-6 and realize its much better to have Rudi taking the " 20 vanilla carries up the middle" and Smith act more of a change of pace. In all honest do you want your Rookie running back taking 350 carries in a year we are no where near the playoffs, coming off his senior year work load. OKAY maybe they don't know. but I do, and I'm glad he is just getting his feet wet.

Same applies for Flu and Cohen. (especially) We forget this guy showed enough that we had to keep him on the roster cause he wouldn't have made it to the PS. These guys already look better( as a Draft choices) than what we've seen in the past. I personally am pleased that next year we'll have two "seasoned rookies" on our interior D line. Here is my vision:

Offense-
WR- Still great heading to next year
QB- Servicable Backups- one potential gamer if he's ever in a game
RB- A talented Rookie who could use a restful year, and a journey man work horse
Line- a Plethora of backupsa couple of raw young guys, or players that could be much better if moved (backus to guard)

Defense-
DB- Alot of depth, Flashes of play makers, need to plug in more youth.
LB- Great Role players No Studs. Sims can't make every play from the weakside. Need a stud to magnify the ability around him.
DL- Great foundation for the future, But no one performing now.
DE- a couple of journey-men. a couple of strikeouts(5-0) one young speed guy for the future. just need 1 guy to play Big end.

Sorry for the length but Health is one of the most important variables in the league nowadays. and just as an example an inexperienced T plus an inexperienced QB results in career threatening injuries. So I feel like we should all relax and keep our eyes focused on the road in front of us. color me optimistic. Have a great day all!

JJLions20 said...

I don't think you can just throw all the young guys out there at once and see what they have. You need to keep some of the veterans in playing at a high level, because if they pack it in, you'll never get a good feel for what the young guys can really do.

Rod needs to hold this team together. It's not a youth movement in Detroit, it's a Youth evaluation. And that has to be done over the 16 games.

kitabug124 said...

Question: Why does Rod stink this year? Last year we were in most every game. I felt that we improved talent-wise over last year's team, so why the flop? What changed? EVERYONE felt that this year would be drastically different than it has turned out this year. What happened? Martz left. Was Marinelli intimidated by him such that his "real" abilities were hidden or disguised? There was a plan. Now there is panic and dogged stubbornness.

Question 2: Will Mayhew step in and force Rod to do the right thing for the franchise?
Rod will play the players he wants when he wants to gove him what he thinks is the best chance to win today. When or will Mayhew force him to change?

DetFan1979 said...

JJ - hope I didn't give the wrong impression. I want them to at least get the young guys some playing time -- which you can't do when they are inactive -- and they won't get on the bench.

What is bugging me is young guys that have looked better than the starters not getting looks -- as if they didn't do what we all saw them do. I don't think they should all be starting -- but with how they rotate the Dline, and the LB why is Dizon not getting in when Nece is getting PT? That is what msytifies me.

I am also all for giving Dan O his 6 games, and depending where the team is at, giving Stanton his shot to lead.

Interesting point on Smith no getting lots of carries. the more I looked at it, the more I realized that as long as Smith is getting his touches sharing the load with Johnson, I'm just fine with that. He was a poor example to use for evaluating rookies/young guys. IAF would be a better one -- he looked good when he was finally in the game long enough to get a groove going.

Great point though JJ - definitely need to keep the veterans involved and keep the team at least playing as hard as they can ---

the team can't evaluate anyone properly if the team has given up entirely. (by evaluation, I mean the film for the new GM and his coaching staff.)

NetRat ahs worked up a great first draft Ifseason roster/cap space for 2009 that I'm looking at and will be posting on tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

so ya... if Colt McCoy goes pro early... do we take him with our top 3 pick?

detroitsims said...

BLACKOUT SUNDAY! I guess I wont be able to see the game either, I live in southern Mich. SUCKS!!!

silverLIONing said...

not to complain, but I guess I don't understand or accept what is going on with the officiating. In the NBA we tend to overlook that the home team seems to get the benefit of the doubt. But there are enough ball possessions that it usually gets balanced out. In football, possessions are hard to come by - and when you are struggling to build confidence it doesn't help that you can't seem to do things the right way and get supported. I remember last years Green Bay game, running the ball well all the way down the field, and Dom gets called for a chop block when it was clear Kapman had stunted and noone else was engaged with him when the block was made. It was a momentum killer. Can't remember the number of times on good pass plays, that our other receiver over on the other side of the field was flagged for pushing off, what????? Bodden plays the right way and gets called for interference, earlier in the game CJ gets hit before the ball arrives and no call. Last week McDonald gets mugged, no call. You might also want to replay that last Texan touchdown - the second spotting of the chain was a few inches back from the first spot - unbelieveable, how does that happen. Yes we don't have lots of talent, but we do have talent, enough to win some games, but its pretty hard to build confidence when you can't seem to get a fair playing field.