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.