Monday, September 04, 2006

Consider This: Jon Kitna is Your Quarterback

Ever since the Lions traded Bobby Layne in 1958, they have been looking for a quarterback. It seems odd they never seem to find one. It does not matter if they draft quarterbacks in the first round such as Chuck Long, Andre Ware and Joey Harrington, or sign a free agent such as Scott Mitchell. It never quite works out. Their current quarterback, free agent Jon Kitna, has been more of a backup than a starter throughout his career. When he has started, Kinta has compiled a losing record. He is well on the other side of 30, so there is not a lot of potential for growth. At first, I was OK with Kitna as the Lions’ QB. There was so much talk coming out of Allen Park about his grasp of Mike Martz’s offense. But after seeing him perform during the preseason, it did not look that way. Oh, and his fastball is more like that of Tim Wakefield than Joel Zumaya. An NFL team can win with a QB such as Kitna, but it must have a strong running attack and an exceptional defense. It does not appear as if the Lions have either. It is just another factor that kind of makes you feel a little uncomfortable about the coming season.
Random Thoughts
- You have to love the approach of the Michigan defense during the Wolverines season-opening victory over Vanderbilt. Under new defensive coordinator Ron English, they were so much more in attack mode than they have been in the past. Michigan recruits as well as any program in the nation. It is good they are finally turning their athletes loose on defense.
- Even though Michigan State was not impressive during its opening win over Idaho, the Spartans’ secondary looks much improved..Otis Wiley and Nemo Warrick were particularly impressive.
- For those of us who just want Barry Bonds to go away and leave the all-time home run record to Henry Aaron, the way Bonds is clubbing home runs lately is bad news. It will likely present Bonds with the idea of returning next season. That, in my opinion, would be bad for baseball.


Anonymous golf guru said...

Yes, Pat, the Lions history of the past 50 years doesn't tell a story of nurturing quarterbacks to greatness. However, as most rational football afficianados understand, it is the team - the surrounding players - that make or break a quarterback's fortunes. Look at the great Archie Manning on those terrible teams in New Orleans. He had a career winning percentage of under .300! Bad QB, or bad team?

You write: "It never quite works out." To get more reality based, it HASN'T quite worked out so far since '57 in terms of ultimate success, although Danielson QBed a team in the early 80s that was very close. (Remember, the past does not determine the future. It is how we REACT to the past that determines what is to come!)

As far as older quarterbacks not having much potential for growth, consider Rich Gannon and his move to the Raiders. Also Jim Plunkett and HIS move to the Raiders. (Maybe Kitna should have moved to the Raiders! -- just kidding.) Earl Morral did a good job in Baltimore and Miami. These are just the first three older, "washed-up" QBs that come to mind who reversed expectations.

I don't think any rational person is suggesting that the Lions are a championship team this year. However, it will be interesting to see how much they improve over the long season (and remember that the preseason indicates little; we don't yet know where they will even start in terms of capability!) They have better speed, great coaching, and a higher level of effort/character than anytime in recent history.

Unfortunately, too many Lions' fans and sports writers need therapy because they insist on predicting the future based on THEIR PERSONAL dashed hopes of the past. Let's focus on the reality that it's a new season. The record is 0-0. They have a chance to - and probably will - continue to improve their execution in all phases from week to week. Yes, the Lions open with a stern test in hosting Seattle in game one. Win or lose, they will continue to compete. To paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt, the greatness is in the struggle to win, to lay it all on the line for all to see. The greatness is in the very attempt to reach for the brass ring.

Your choice of a second-person pronoun is telling ("...another factor that kind of makes you feel a little uncomfortable ..."). It is not all your readers who are uncomfortable about the upcoming season. Many are energized and excited - not about the imagined impending championship - but rather the upcoming struggle of the Lions' team and how the new lineup of players and coaches can strive, respond to adversity, persevere, and ultimately the record that they can compile.

Jon Kitna is the Lions' quarterback, and I hope he and his teammates do their jobs, hang tough, and show that character and dedication can pay dividends.

10:56 AM 
Anonymous Dham Wb said...

What we need is a quarterback with mobility and is a leader. When was the last time we had a mobile quarterback? Joey Harrington is an average quarterback in this league. He will never be a no. 1 quarterback unless he is the "Trent Dilfer" type with a great defense and great running game.

I'm glad the lions finally have a plan. It's the coach's way or the highway. Detroit is a gritty, tough city. The west coast offense would have never fit here. Look at the pistons and how they built their titles. I applaud Millen for passing up Leinart. That was another Harrington waiting to happen. Good qb no help. He took Sims and started the foundation.

My prediction; I believe the lions at the end of the year will be better than they were at the beginning of the year. When was the last time we could say that?


2:36 PM 
Anonymous garold said...


I think the Lions have a soft spot for weak-armed quarterbacks. Kitna is Marinelli's version of Mariucci's Garcia. I agree with you on your assessment that Kitna doesn't possess starting-quarterback stuff. Funny that he was voted by the team as one of the offensive captains. Hmmmm... wonder if Marinelli influenced the vote by promising the team beds on the 1st road trip, if a player who wears #8 gets voted in???

After the next pre-season game, we'll see what the Wolverines really look like against Notre Dame. I'm an Irish fan as well, so if Michigan loses, I'll be rooting for ND the rest of the season. For the Wolverines to lose both to ND and OSU, I wouldn't consider this season a success, unless they won the Big Ten. If I could get one guaranteed victory wish, it would definitely to get off this Tressle domination of U-M... we just can't lose to the Buckeyes again this season.

In his Pittsburgh days, I was a Bonds fan. Like you, I wish he'd hang them up now after the '06 season. We know he probably won't though, and some AL team with short fences will sign him. It seems the best hope in that event, will be for the Tiger pitching staff to just mow him down, whenever they face him. Should he surpass a class act like Henry Aaron, I don't expect there will be much hooping and hollering over Barry. Hammering Hank will still be thought of, as the best home-run king, in my mind.

6:19 PM 
Blogger roqdoqdavy said...

I think the only chance the Lions have at (very minimal) success this season will come with McCown at QB.

6:32 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Golf Guru,
There is a balance necessary when looking at the Lions. On one hand, it is too early to rush to judgement on this team. The season hasn't even started. On the other, they were truly awful during the preseason. To this point, it's all been about rhetoric. They have not looked disciplined at all on the field. And all we have to go on so far is the preseason. And the third game, in particular, was alarming.

9:56 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Dham Wb,
The last time the Lions ended the season on a high note was when they beat the Rams to end 2003 and everybody got all excited about 2004 - and they were really bad. You say you're glad the Lions finally have a plan, but what is it? Everything is about the coaches changing the players attitudes, but nothing about how they are constructing their team. There are holes all over the place on the Lions' depth chart. Are they rebuilding or trying to win now? I don't see a plan. I just hear typical Lions talk.

10:01 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I, too, thought McCown played pretty well in the last three preseason games. Obviously, there is some refinement that is needed, but he has good arm strength and mobility. It looks like he has a chance.

10:03 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

You're right on target about Michigan. The Wolverines can go 10-2, but it won't mean much if both losses are to Notre Dame and Ohio State. It would be three straight losses to ND and five of six to Ohio State. Those games are, obviously, always big for U-of-M, but even more so this season.

10:07 PM 
Blogger maddog52 said...

Just to start of really quick. When and is it possible to consider Tiger Woods a solo person sport a Dynasty. The man since hte passing of his father has been on a mission. In my mind he has gone from the best to legend. I just think it is incredible what he does.

As far as the lions. Come on Caputo it is the holiday weekend. Why spoil it. haha.. You said it kitna is a backup. However, what was Warner and Bulger prior to being in his something. ABsolutely garbage. HEck Green doesn't go down Warner and his Mr. Burns looking wife are still bagging groceries or whatever he was doing. So it will be interesting to see what happens when the playbooks is unleashed. Because if what we saw in the preseason is any indication then there is no more room to run for mr. Millen and his excuses.

11:13 PM 
Anonymous atomicrod said...

Pat I fully agree with you on Kitna. I don't see him as that much of an improvemnt over Harrington and the other holes on this team are really apparant.

Looking over career statics Kitna appears to be a clone of Joey Harrington, just a bit older, slower and less arm strength. Both players played for poor teams. Kitna's lifetime quarterback rating is 75.3, Harrington's is 68.1. In 4 of his 9 seasons Kitna has throw for over 3000 yards (Harrington is 1 for 5). The touchdown to interception rate is similar (108/104 for Kitna, 60/62 for Harrington) Kitna does have a statistical advantage, but it is not that great, not anywhere near making him that fantastic of an upgrade. Kitna also leads Joey in teams that have allowed him to leave or cut 2-1.

One thing that I keep wondering is this:

At one time or another Millen would have had the chance to get the following quarterbacks:
Daunte Cullpepper
Drew Brees
Steve McNair
Kerry Collins
Patrick Ramsey

Matt Lienhart

All of them with the exception of Ramsey have a history of success far greater than Kitna, yet Kitna is who the Lions chose.

I love the Lions and will continue to follow them, but I'm concerned this might be another long season.

12:57 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I hope Martz has some tricks up his sleeve because he is going to need them. Warner is a talented player. I don't think it was just Martz that made him. He needed the opportunity more than anything else. Kurt Warner of 1999 was a much more talented football player than Jon Kitna of 2006. He just had much better arm strength and a quick release that allowed him to hang onto the ball until the last possible second before delivering it.

10:53 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I think your comments are perceptive. Nobody is talking about the quarterback spot and the QBs the Lions passed on it, but it could become a huge factor in the future. What if McNair leads the Ravens far into the playoffs or Leinert becomes the QB the Lions have been lacking forever - if Kitna struggles. And you're right -Kitna's career stats and win-loss record are underwhelming. It's like everything else with this team. It's predicated on the coaches turning water into wine.

10:58 AM 
Blogger I rule said...

If Kitna is indeed underwhelming, then he's a perfect fit for the Lions who have embodied that measure of performance for the last 49 years. Returning to the 3 decades of mediocrity that marked the Russ Thomas and Chuck Schmidt eras is about as much optimism as any long-sufferring fan can muster.

Sarcasm must be the blue plate special today, because I've reached the point with Barry Bonds that I just don't give a rat's rump what he does. Bud Selig has avoided becoming embroiled in any controversy over the eclipsing of Maris' single season home run record, so why would we expect anything else on this go round. How apropos would it be for Bonds to hold the major league records for home runs (single season and career), have been selected to 13 all-star teams, won 8 gold gloves and 7 National League MVPs yet not get voted into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. How are you voting, Book?

1:01 PM 
Anonymous Muhme said...

Looks like Barriod can help a team after all huh? He is finially using his whole body at the plate...he will be back next is a shame, but he will be.

1:47 PM 
Anonymous Rob said...

I agree with your recent comments that Bonderman has to get back in form for the stretch run, but no matter how this season ends Bondo has made another stride towards becoming a true ace. He has improved every single year in the Majors. People shouldn't get down on this kid, because even without a reliable change-up he's still very very good.

Did anyone see the softball "Rover" tactic employed by the Angels in the 9th Saturday night. It didn't make sense to me. Figgins didn't play in enough to throw a guy out at home, and he was to shallow to grab a line drive or bloop over the infield's head. The ball would have had to be drilled directly at him and get by the pitcher for that positioning to be worth anything.
Did he really need to change gloves for that play? With K-Rod on the hill, he might as well have grabbed a beer and lawn chair when he went for a new glove. I guess that's why I sit in the stands.

1:53 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I Rule,
As of now (I reserve the right to change my mind), I will vote for Bonds on the first ballot. He would have gotten in regardless of the "help" as a 500-500 player. I won't vote for McGwire or Palmeiro because I don't think either of those guys would have posted Hall of Fame numbers without the "help." Others feel differently and I respect their opinions, but that's the way I feel and how I will use my vote.

3:45 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

You're right Jason. He will be back and his final numbers this season won't even be bad.

3:47 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I was at the game Saturday and loved the move. The cool thing about is the player involved, Chone Figgins, is equally good as an infielder and outfielder. His versatility reminds me of former Tiger Tony Phillips.

3:48 PM 
Blogger I rule said...

I agree that Barry would have put up the numbers to be worthy of election to the Hall with or without steroids. It can also be said that Pete Rose put up induction worthy numbers irrespective of whether he bet on the game. The analogy is that both have cast a dark shadow on the game, and for that I would hold them accountable. Neither deserve the level of respect that a first ballot induction commands. The good news is you've got 5-6 years to reconsider.

With all due respect Pat, Chone Figgins looked a lot more like Dmitri Young than Tony Phillips over there at third this weekend. Do you ever wonder how many times broadcasters call him Choan instead of Sean? Too bad George Kell is around to take a shot at that one. I always loved Benny "eye-ail-ya."

4:17 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I Rule,
I absolutely believe Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame. How can you not put the all-time hits leader in? So he bet on baseball. It was after he was done playing. I also believe Shoeless Joe Jackson should be in.

7:00 PM 
Blogger I rule said...

I am not contending that Bonds, Rose or Shoeless Joe for that matter be prevented from ever being enshrined in Cooperstown. Having said that, it seems totally appropriate to me that Rose has been subject to intense scrutiny over his actions which were clearly detrimental to the game. Had he come clean early on, he would probably have been elected by now. The same goes for Bonds. He has tarnished the game, while denying what is common knowledge. Not only that, he has re-written the record books with achievements built as much on synthetic strength as it is on natural ability.

12:35 PM 

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