Monday, August 27, 2007

Not Exactly A Reason For Optimism

They say the third preseason game is the dress rehearsal. They say if there is a preseason game that actually matters, it’s the third one. If that is the case, then the Lions are in trouble.
Peyton Manning is a truly great quarterback, and the Indianapolis Colts are the defending Super Bowl champions, but the way they went through the Lions Saturday night was utterly ridiculous.
It was a reminder of the previous two third preseason games during which the Lions turned in similarly floundering performances. The third preseason game in 2005 against the Rams, a 37-13 loss at Ford Field on Monday Night Football when the Lions brought out the black jerseys for the first time, was the beginning of the end for Steve Mariucci as the head coach. Last year, when Rod Marinelli - incredibly and foolishly - took his team the same day and back to Oakland for the third preseason game, was nearly as embarrassing of a loss. And similarly lingering. This wasn’t good, either. It pointed out the Lions’ obvious weaknesses defensively, and how they haven’t covered their tracks at the backup quarterback spot. Shaun Rogers didn’t play and has hardly practiced - and the season is less than two weeks away.
All the optimism that has come out of Allen Park has been nothing more than rhetoric. There have been all kinds of things that have gone wrong since Rod Marinelli has become head coach. Precious little has gone right. Saturday night in Indy just another one of those things that went wrong.
And I do believe, based on that performance, it is fair to wonder if Marinelli will ever get it right. The message for him and the Lions organization in its totality is simple: Start winning. Turn rhetoric into reality. Because they made their bed with all this talk and propaganda. If they don’t win, they will have to sleep in the fallout - and it will be anything but pleasant.

Random Thoughts

- Football is a brutal game. I mean all that hard work from somebody like Daniel Bullocks to earn a starting spot and after one devastating play, his season is over. You have to feel for the kid.

- The most underrated aspect of the Tigers win Sunday was their fielding. Carlos Guillen made a brilliant play in the ninth inning at first base. Also, Brandon Inge made a very good play charging the ball earlier in the game.

- Yeah, I felt a bit cheated Sunday when I went to the game and Derek Jeter didn’t play for the Yankees. Wonder if they would have won had he played.

- It was impressive the way Joel Zumaya bounced back from his bad outing against Cleveland with a clutch performance Sunday.

- I was surprised Yankees starter Phillip Hughes doesn’t throw harder. He seems to have a good feel for pitching, though.

- I wrote my column for Monday's Oakland Press on Curtis Granderson. Check it out in "Sports Columns."

17 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will say it again: irregardless of this games outcome, the Lions are a horrible team.

Killer said elsewhere that this game was rendered meaningless when Kitna didn't play.

I haven't seen Kitna playing any defense yet. And what does it say about the team if it is totally dependant on a journeyman quarterback to hold it together?

I wonder what hack they will pick up on the waiver wire to back up Kitna.

Allan

7:45 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Allan,
I agree with you on both fronts. Kitna doesn't play defense and their first-team defense was bad last season has been suspect in the preseason. It forced a couple turnovers in Cleveland - and those seemed more self-inflicted by the Browns. And what does it say that they are relying on a journeyman QB so heavily?
Caputo

9:15 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pat,

It isn't difficult to blame Marinelli, but once again it is becoming painfully apparent that their draft was mismanaged. It's never easy to do what you need to (draft defense) instead of being seduced to do what you want to. Hard to blame Mr. Pound the Rock..when the players he is provided are so consistently inferior and mismatched. Maybe the solution is another 3-13 or 2-14. It may be the only way to rid oursleves of the buffoonery that is Matt Millen. Until the Lions employ a real football person they are doomed.

10:12 AM 
Anonymous Marty said...

Pat,

The Lions looked really bad on Saturday. I can tell that you feel pretty strongly about it by your writing. I got the same feeling that I get when I accidentally read something Drew Sharp writes. It was just a single game, so there is no need to get that emotional about it. Even so, you may have been right about O'Sulivan. He looked pretty bad. It was only one game, and he probably had some nerves in his first time as the 1st string QB so I won't put too much stock in it. But I now agree that Kitna is the most important player on the roster.

The secondary still looks atrocious. The D-line looks pretty solid though, and they still seem to push back the O-line on almost every play. It just doesn't seem to matter, because there always seems to be someone open on every play, and the veteran QB's are just picking the secondary apart. I still hope that they get better throughout the year. I am upset the Daniel Bullocks was injured.

Anyway, I always enjoy reading your opinion on these things. I hope that the Lions play better. Hopefully they can play well enough to earn my respect throughout the year.

-Marty

10:27 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Marty,
I am not emotional about the Lions. I am attempting to let this play out without being judgmental -one way or another - toward Marinelli. It is too early to say he doesn't have it as head coach. Conversely, it is too early to anoint him as "the answer" either. In my opinion, too many people have already done so - without any tangible evidence to back it up. Just rhetoric.
Caputo

11:05 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Anonymous,
It does seem like he had a lot to say about their player personnel and was pleased with it. But I agree, I am not sure if Vince Lombardi or Don Shula would be able to turn out a winner the way the Lions organization sets up.
Caputo

11:07 AM 
Anonymous Marty said...

I am pretty sure that most people don't even know who the Lions coach is, let alone think that he is the answer. Whenever I tell someone that I stopped getting season tickets this year, most asked why I waited so long. (The truth is that I would have stopped last year, but the guy who I got them through bought them anyway, so I kept them.)

People want hope in the Lions, the same as they want hope in their own lives. If people believe that Marinelli is the "answer", then that gives them hope in the Lions. I learned long ago that you need hope to be happy, or else there is no chance for the misery to end. If fans care about the Lions, then they will always find a way to get hope that the team will get better. The only real alternatives are misery, or to stop caring. Even if you are right, you really won't get anything out of dashing peoples hope for the future. You would only help spread their misery.

I don't have any expectations for this coaching staff to be some sort of savior. I have never been a big fan of Mike Martz, because his tendency to avoid the run keeps opposing defenses fresh for the fourth quarter. Rod Marinelli just doesn't have a track record, so he is still feeling his way through, and the same can pretty much be said for Joe Barry. If they do well, I will be happy, and if they don't do well, I have stopped caring a couple of years ago anyway. I still want them to do well, but I just don't care that much if they don't. Life is too short to spend your time worrying about how your favorite team is playing. I have already lost far too much by caring about things that shouldn't have mattered much to me.

-Marty

p.s. I am sorry for the Drew Sharp comment. Your writing isn't much like his at all. It always annoys me when I look at an interesting title and start to read the article, and about half way through I realize that Drew Sharp wrote it. I hate that, because he has such an attacking tone it just puts me in a bad mood.

12:17 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

Book,

Your Oakland county piece on Granderson was great.

As I heard Dickerson calling his inside the park homer on the radio - I could tell he was stunned as he described it. Later -Watching shown through the game on Fox - I could tell everyone else was stunned.

You know, I don't think the Tigers win that game if he didn't do that. Not because the run was also the deciding run, but I think he lifted everyone up to win that game - like your column suggests.

I was also glad to see the fire back in Zumaya's eyes coming off the mound after shutting down the yanks. The fire in his arm is also starting to pop up more frequently.

I did watch an Inge at bat where he watched 3 straight strikes blow by him. I am an Inge fan. But I can't stand to see anymore of those at bats.

Today should be interesting - at least we can't lose the series.

12:57 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
I don't think the Tigers would have won that game without him. It set the tone - when it was really needed. He did the same thing in Game Two of the ALDS vs. the Yankees last year. If Granderson gets on a roll, so will the Tigers.
Caputo

3:08 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Marty,
That is so true. And I feel like The Grinch or something when I point out the Lions' problems. People want them to do so well so badly. I want them to win, too, for that reason. Their fans. But I want them actually do something first.
Caputo

3:10 PM 
Anonymous Marty said...

Pat,

You aren't the Grinch. I don't like the reports that do nothing but praise the Lions, or the reports that do nothing but bash them. Your blog is nothing but an opinion, and you have every right to write whatever you want. You can choose to be either of these things, or stay somewhere in the middle.

I have stopped "blogging" because it ends up being a drain emotionally sometimes. I don't know why, but I found I cared a lot about what perfect strangers thought of my poorly written ideas. You are a much better writer than I will ever be, and I am sure that you have more insight into the Lions than I will ever have; but I have a habit of trying to point out things that might not get noticed otherwise. These things can start fights over the internet, whereas in person it just starts friendly discussions.

-Marty

4:17 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Marty,
The Lions right now are just this kind of weird situation. One thing I like about doing this blog is that it isn't about "fights on the internet." It's about good discussion about sports. I welcomd differing opinions and it doesn't seem like people take offense when I disagree with them. To that's the way it should be. If everybody agreed, this would all be pretty boring.
Caputo

5:06 PM 
Anonymous Danny said...

Pat, hopefully the big series win over the Yankees, with an explanation point by Verlander and the offense yesterday can jump start the Tigers into some big wins on the road.

Enjoyed your piece on Granderson. He is becoming the force that moves the Tigers offense. Gotta be an all-star next year if he keeps improving as he has. Great to watch.

I also enjoy reading all the other posts here, so Marty keep it coming! (Posting doesn’t wear me out, it makes me feel better – it’s my therapy. :-)

Cheers,
Danny

12:44 PM 
Anonymous Danny said...

Pat, I heard the Michael Vick statement on TV. Did you catch his wording? He apologized for being "immature"! Words mean something.

Is that the biggest load of ---- you’ve ever heard or what? I can’t believe it! Immature? You are immature when you throw eggs at a house or push someone in a pool etc. Is that all he thinks it is? That is no admission of guilt or the severity of the crime at all. Ridiculous. What a stupid thing to say, and you know it was approved by his attorney.

Danny

1:37 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Danny,
I, too, thought the Yankee series was huge. To win three of four like that means something. Verlander has given the Tigers a lot more than Bonderman. As for Vick, I wrote my column on him for Tuesday's paper (see sports columns at theoaklandpress.com). That word was a curious one, but I think his heart was in the right place. I don't believe he has that wide of a vocabulary so that he was able to perfectly articulate what he was trying to say. I thought his apology was well done under the circumstances. Now we'll see if he means it.
Caputo

8:23 PM 
Anonymous Danny said...

Pat, I read your article on Michael Vick. There are a lot of good things in there. I am looking at it from a little different perspective – not football, not outrage, not race.

I don’t think you need a huge vocabulary to use the word “wrong”. “Immature” doesn’t cut it for me. I don’t care who it is. Many folks in society today “find” God shortly before they begin their rehabilitation.

I have no strong feelings about Michael Vick personally or as a football player. I wish him the best and hope he means what he says.

So who IS going to bat in the 3 slot?

Cheers,

Danny

8:50 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Danny,
There is no right or wrong answer for that. I can see where you feel that way. It certainly wasn't the right word. If I were advising Vick, I would tell him to use a different word. He was "wrong" not necessarily immature. But from my experience being around athletes, they tend to talk in cliches using buzzwords they have heard a lot. In Vick's case, seems to me "immature" was one of those buzzwords.
Caputo

11:17 AM 

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