Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Rev's Q's: Who's #1, Who's Not, Who's Back?

Once again I am answering mailbag questions over at the Church of Schwartz. The questions are in italics, with my response following:

1. Are there any Lion free agents that you'd like to see brought back?

Of 19 Free Agents (including Ramzee Robinson) on an 0-16 team, 4 of them -- over 20% -- were signed by other teams. The Lions, of course, re-signed 5 of them. Now, of those 5 one was Peterman, who will start at RG barring any misfortune this ifseason. He was a strong pickup, and a player I wanted them to keep. Jason Hanson was another of the re-signees, and that was a no-brainer as well; he is one of the top 3 kickers in the league right now and showing no signs of slowing. The other 3 re-signees are all depth signings, and on the types of deals that could make them camp fodder. With the tragic drowning of Corey Smith (who I would have listed as someone for them to re-sign) we are already down to just 9 guys we are looking at.

I decided the best way for me to express how I feel about each player was in list format:

1. Keary Colbert, WR: Nothing special at this point, and there are younger, cheaper, options to bring in to compete for a roster spot that have more upside.
2. George Foster, OT: The Lions re-signed Damion Cook as their swing OT, and Loper can play both OG and OT positions. They do not really need another backup RT, which is what Foster would be since Cherilus definitely left him far behind with his play in the latter half of the season.
3. Rudi Johnson, RB: The Lions signed Morris as the 3rd down/breather back, which is the main role they needed filled. They can easily find some younger, hungrier backs to fill their other RB needs. Rudi wants to compete for a #1 spot -- and it is a competition he already lost to Smith should he come back to Detroit. I look for him to sign elsewhere either into/after camp or in the season as in injury replacement.
4. Paris Lenon, LB: I actually wouldn't mind seeing Paris Lenon back as a ST player and backup LB. He can play the middle adequately, and is a solid - if unspectacular - OLB as well. He brings it on ST and would be an inexpensive depth player as the Lions transition to new blood.
5. Andy McCollum, OG/C: Doesn't have a lot of gas in the tank, and was brought in last season really because Marinelli didn't like to play anyone with under 4 years in the league.
6. Shaun McDonald, WR: Ran backwards too often, and doesn't have a good awareness of where the sticks are. The Lions can find a suitable replacement late in the draft, or even with some UDFA. Their 1-3 seems pretty decent with CJ, BJ, and Standeford (sounds like an accounting firm -- hope they account for a lot of TD's next season!)
7. Langston Moore, DT: don't get me wrong, I like Moore as a depth player -- but the Lions have Fluellen and Cohen and are looking to get bigger and younger on the lines. He just doesn't seem to fit with the new Lions. He may catch on if injuries hit a team running the Tampa2, or a base 4-3 zone D.
8. Ryan Nece, LB: Nope. Didn't see anything worth commenting on last season from him. A T2 SLB, wasn't horrible, wasn't great. With Peterson as starter, and Dizon on the roster, why do you need Nece? Answer: You don't.
9. Stanley Wilson, CB: Not anymore. He had potential as a good man-cover corner, but the Lions' T2 scheme and injuries have ruined his career. Unfortunately, he may be OOF at this point. If healthy though, he would make a good camp body for someone. Just not the Lions.

After looking at all 9, I guess my final answer is: Paris Lenon for depth/ST.

2. Now that the Lions are negotiating with several guys(assuming Curry, Stafford, Smith, Monroe, maybe Raji) for the 1st overall pick, do you take the best player or the guy that will sign the best contract?

Whoever they are negotiating with for the #1 overall (once those negotiations really begin) they will be willing to sign any of them. In this draft, the top players are bunched so BPA gets kinda fuzzy. Really, if this is the pool, it means they are willing to take any of those guys at #1 for the right contract. He who has the best "right contract" will be dubbed the BPA tie-breaker by virtue of signability and the powers of WCF's checkbook. Don thy newly logo'd Jersey and Hat and arise a true Lion!

3. Who was the worst coach of the Millen tenure: Moronweg, Mooch, Shovel MariRockPounder?

This is a tough question, as there were several factors working against each coach, the biggest being Matt Millen and lack of talent. Mornhinwheg wasn't able to make the leap from OC to HC very well -- although he was hampered by the draft choices of Millen. Overall, his coaching itself wasn't too bad. Millen totally gutted that team the first year, as well as the front office. I'm not even sure an experienced coach could have handled it -- as Mariucci would learn.

Mooch made his rep juggling the talented prima-donnas on the 49ers roster, but wasn't able to get them over the hump. A testament to his coaching skills is that after he left, the 49ers have done worse. He is their high point this past decade, as far as coaches are concerned. However, he was a bad fit for Detroit. Millen was telling him who to play, and it wasn't who needed to be playing to win... Also, Mariucci's coaching career had involved keeping great talent focused on the task at hand -- not developing marginal players, or less naturally gifted players. This showed in how he ran the team, and also hurt in his clashes with Millen. He was a good coach in the wrong situation for his talents. He benefited and looked better as a result of the groundwork Mornhinweg put down, but it was all falling apart by the time he left. Mooch's talent was maintaining greatness, not creating it. Great talents -- but useless in the situation he was in.

Marinelli is a good Dline coach. he may have even been able to make a transition to DC, though I am wondering. But HC was just waaay over his head. Jim Schwartz indicated that going from position coach to coordinator was like being in a whole different sport. He went from working with players, to working with coaches. As a HC Marinelli didn't learn the offense, or coordinate how they work together. When he did try to do so, his OC was Colletto and it was so predictable that my 7 year old could see what play was coming. With Martz, the O didn't mesh with the D style. Square pegs, round holes. When he got his old round pegs from Tampa, he found they were so worn out they fell right through the holes and out of the picture ala Kelly.

It wasn't just personnel that doomed Marinelli -- but his use of it. Mooch and Marty got quite a bit out of the players they had. Rod just plain couldn't evaluate personnel worth beans. The real killer -- and the biggest reason for 0-16 -- was that not only could he and his staff not adjust in-game, they couldn't even adjust week to week. Week 11,12 it was like they were in camp and still installing the offense! It is that travesty, along with not playing his young guys to see if they would step up in the midst of 0-16 that make him the biggest coaching disaster of the three.

Mornhinweg is an excellent OC, and continues to excel in Philly. Mooch is OOF after letting WCF pay him to do nothing for a couple of years. Marinelli will maybe get a shot at a DC spot some day, but after how over matched he was in the HC position I doubt it. He will be a position coach for the rest of his career. He handled 0-16 as well as anyone could, and the team didn't give up on him. If only he had trusted his team a bit more, or had even the slightest bit more ability to adjust from week to week even, the Lions could have eked out a win.

Rod Marinelli wins the prize of worst coach -- it doesn't get any worse than winless.


Isphet said...

Can I vote for Bobby Ross anyway for running Barry out of town? That's worse than 0-16, in my opinion.

Lions' players' numbers retired for success on the field in the last 50 years: 1. Barry Sanders.

Lions' players' numbers retired due to tragic, premature death in the last 50 years: 2. Corey Smith and Chuck Hughes.

So Bobby ran off the only true superstar on the Lions in the last 50 years. Personally, I think of 0-16 as the culmination of the downward spiral that truly began when Barry walked out on the team 10 years ago.

But Marinelli gets a close second.

Riley said...

I think you're way too harsh on Marinelli.

He inherited a team, that was not only led by a General Manager that was out of town half the time, and still managed to be a meddling busy-body, but a talent depraved team lacking player chemistry and player leaders. The best player on the team was Sean Rogers ... a lazy wining prima donna that set a horrible example for the rest of the team.

When you're players are so spoiled that, despite their years of losing, they rebel against a Superbowl champion Offensive Coordinator ... you know it has serious serious problems that go beyond just talent, but into culture. Rod saw it, did his best to try to rebuild the culture, despite the Matt Millen load stone on his back, and failed. When Millen finally got fired at the beginning of the season, and Kitna went down, and then became an insufferable cancer ... it was over.

There was not a coach in the NFL that could have won a game with that team last year. no one. The fact that Marinelli managed to win as many games as he did the year prior, is a testament to how effective he was as a coach, despite his shortcomings, which are noteworthy,

Pacer said...

Riley-well said but 79 makes some good points. Marinelli actually had players playing during that horrendous season, and while I can't disagree with 79's final analysis, I actually thought that Marinelli did a decent job, given all the chaos.

79-Marinelli actually was offered a DC job this year. That kind of tells the whole story -doesn't it-he turned it down.

CHIEFGER139 said...

BOOBY ROSS was a good coach but your right they should of fired bobby and kept sanders happy like the broncos did with elway and somehow I still see fosrer getting back on the team, hes chelious equal and adds good depth on the weak offensive line-im really hoping somehow we get herman johnson in the draft-would love seeing a guy that huge on our side-they probably arent even thinking of him though

Isphet said...

I wonder if they could move foster inside to G (where hopefully he would hear the snapcount better and get less penalties) then move their RG over to left.

You'd think that Foster could be a good interior lineman; his biggest problems were speed on the outside and too many false start penalties; both of which aren't as big of a problem on the interior. I haven't really thought it through though.

DetFan1979 said...

I got hit with the flu - again! Been a rough month. One weekend with no one in the house sick would be nice...

Riley - Marinelli had his players motivated, and they never gave up on him. I totally respect that. I also know he had the lowest talent level of the three coaches.

BUT - the question asked about worst head coach. When it came to his duties as head coach -- coordinating coaches, evaluating which players to play, and espcially adjusting game plans in-game and week to week, tactical and game amangement decisions... he fell flat on all of those.

Motivation is the only thing he did well. Go back to weeks, I think it was 11-14. The Lions got beat for a long TD run on the EXACT SAME PLAY by 4 DIFFERENT teams!

They made the same mistake on defense when defending that play 4 weeks in a row! That type of breakdown over that length of time is inexcusable. It was a fake run right by the FB with a reverse cutback to the left. Everyone but one safety bites left, and then is out of position as the RB with a full head of steam blows by/though the Safety who is trying to defend half the field all by himself. RB wins that battle 9/10 times.

Despite the infamous "take the wind", even Mornhinweg and Mooch both made better game management decisions and adjustments than Marinelli. Since that is what, primarily, a head coach IS - overall and game management -- taht Marinelli was not good at either is what made me put him as the worst of the three.

Hopefully well enough to blog tomorrow... Have a great weekend all -- spend time with family or loved ones if you can to keep what is most important to the forefront of your lives.

I'm going to go back to bed. Again...

2girlsandaboydad said...

Marinelli is a great position coach. He should never have been a head coach in the NFL. He probably couldn't do the DC position either. He is just suited for one on one with his dawgs on the D line...IMO

Future forward...Schwartz has experience, intelligence, lineage, apparent restraint, success on film...I think we will all be pleased in the end about his tenure as the Lions HC. We'll know better in 3 years or so if I am headed in the right accolade direction (to use Mayhew's draft grade/success timetable).

Riley said...

Before the season started, we all knew that if John Kitna were to get injured, that the Lions would have big troubles. It happened, and to no ones surprise, the Lions lost as a result of it. The team's lack of a high quality back-up Qb is not the failure of the second year head coach. Marinelli managed to get this team to win 7 games in the previous season. That's more wins in a single season than the Lions had won in nearly 7 years. Marinelli could not have accomplished that if he were as bad at managing the staff and the coaches and the players as you have characterized him as being.

I agree. Marinelli was a relatively weak in-game coach -- but he was no worse than Wayne Fontes in that regard. Also, I agree Marty Mornhinweg was very good in that regard. In fact, Mornhinweg makes in-game adjustments as well or better than any other coach in the NFL (those who criticize Mornhinweg for his call to "take the wind", don't understand statistics). Point being, you can be among the best in this area and still be a wretched head coach, and likewise you can be a successful head coach despite this weakness. A head coach can rely on the expertise of his co-ordinators to manage in-game adjustments (if that head coach has the right co-ordinators), but there is no one who can suppliment a lack of leadership in a head coach. Marinelli had it in spades where it counted most. That's not to say that the Lions can't do better than Marinelli, but Marinelli was far from the worst head coach.

Criticizing Marinelli for his poor choices in "evaluating which players to play" misses I think the major issue of player culture that Marinelli was trying to address. Simply playing the most talented player, no matter what, was the track taken by the team over the past 6 years that had contributed to the slow degrading of the team's culture and attitude --- Millen had created a culture where talent was coddled and high draft picks got special treatment ... in the face of that, Marinelli tried to establish a different attitude. In an attempt to rebuild the right attitude, Marinelli had to take-on the prima-donnas of the team, while his efforts were continually sabotaged by the biggest prima-donna of all (Matt Millen). If Schwartz manages to succeed, it will be in no small part because Marinelli was willing to bite the bullet and do things that was best for the players (whom he loved) and the team, instead of worrying about his personal career.

CHIEFGER139 said...

you bring out good points but many of us seen him as that 7-9 guy on the verge of bringing us the playoffs-he failed big time-and made us all look very bad big time-probably most me-a 11-5 playoffs and beyond prediction-he lost all credibility throwin in culpeper out of shape-didnt know the plays-ruined stanton and most likely culpeper if they would of even given the guy 2 more weeks could of preformed-then we seen he actually was only holdin the company line-would of let culpeper earn his bonus-but now we see oralaski-despite det fan79's praise and everyone elses was only thrown in there to cheat culpeper-i guess good business sense-but truefully this crowd on this blog makes me sick-its all about business sense-that blows-now no decent free agent will touch us with a 10 foot pole-was hopin mayhew was more than that but so far-i see not-so you all think hes doing the right things-I dont-but it may not be his fault-thats why you guys are here to convince me otherwise-unlike many of you on here I try to keep a open mind-explain to me how weve treated woody,duckett,kitna, oralasky,culpeper-if we go way back mooch-morningwig-bly-rogers-batch-boyd-smith=you namre it that anyone in there right mind would come here weve screwd over coach after coach and player after player-if you were a good player coming here would you expect them to actually leave you in to make your contract the last few games??-if they told you yes your our man next season in morningwigs defense-or your our starting qb-in batches defense-who knows what they told dan-o and oralasky-theve treated them horrible enough-all these guys-why wouls anyone want to come here-and most of all tell me what has mayhew and lewand done to correct this any what so ever-also ask brian kelly and tatum bell what they think of this mickey mouse operation-bet they have plenty to say-theres a reason we were 0-16 and truthfully i see the same crap going on-which is ok-but what makes me mad is you guys are supposedly true lions fans-and your supporting the same crap-screw the new logos-make this a place people want to come to-and at least that is fair-its not now!!