Monday, December 17, 2007

Lions Still Need An Answer To QB Woes

There were a lot of things not to like about the Lions’ 37-point loss to the San Diego Chargers Sunday. The Lions’ defense was awful. They played completely uninspired football. And it was obvious they were overmatched by the Chargers, who have bounced back nicely from a 4-4 start and are starting to peak just in time for the postseason.
But I think the most disturbing aspect is the lack of a future for the Lions. And to me, that begins at the quarterback position. Look, I admire Jon Kitna for his leadership qualities. He does bring a certain amount of pluck to the position that had been lacking for a long time with the Lions.
It’s just that he is 35 years old and has never really been a winning starting QB in the league. Lets face it, the Lions are going nowhere with him under center. He just isn’t that good.
In the meantime, you see good young quarterbacks developing with playoff contenders. Trent Edwards, the rookie the Lions bypassed in the draft for Drew Stanton, in Buffalo. Derek Anderson in Cleveland. Vince Young with Tennessee. Tarvaris Jackson with Minnesota. Eli Manning with the Giants. Missing his whole first year like this has not been good for Stanton, who hasn’t been able to practice with the full squad since he was put on injured reserve during training.
And make no mistake, the biggest single issue for the Lions during their 50 years of ineptitude has been a hole at the QB position.

Random Thoughts

- I can see Michigan’s basketball team easily losing nine of its next 10 games. Saturday’s home game vs. UCLA is going to be particularly one-side. It’s going to get ugly soon at Crisler Arena.

- If Rich Rodriguez doesn’t work out for Michigan, wonder who would be first in line to replace him, Les Miles or Jim Harbaugh? Wonder if those petty wounds, pertaining to Harbaugh, will ever heal.

- I do think the NHL Network is doing a terrific job. Love the vintage games and specialty shows. Just watched a couple on Denis Savard and Bobby Orr - and enjoyed them immensely. The NHL Network’s expanded game highlights are also welcomed.


Anonymous Hollis Keys in Detroit said...

Book, What was it that made the Lions believe that they could afford to let their second round pick sit out an entire year without contributing? Their( Millen and Marinelli's) evaluation of the existing talent on this team was flawed greatly. Jon Kitna has hit his ceiling here just as he did in Cincy and everywhere else he has been. He showed his frustration when Hanson missed his field goal vs Dallas but he didn't show close to that level with himself when he was throwing hospital balls to Jones and Furrey or that pick on the blitz that led to the TD. His time here as in the past has run out and he knows it.

9:32 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The NHL Network is THE BEST network of the three that are there and I love it! It brings back great and not so great memories of some excellent hockey that was played in the 70's 80' and 90's and a chance to see some games that I missed when the CBC lost the Stanley Cup broadcasts to CTV years ago. Although that 1995 loss to the Devils and the 1996 loss to the Avs still blows it was still good to see again to see just how it unfolded and with the added insight of the host and added interviews they make for high quality broadcasts. To me the best sports network on television.

9:43 AM 
Anonymous aak_king said...

It seems to me the biggest failure of the Lions management is an inability to overcome decisions that don't work out. The ongoing wide receiver saga, the inability to cut players that don't meet expectations. Kitna was brought in as a stop gap but now they can't develop a replacement. They've never replaced Jeff Hartings. Other organizations lose players all the time and replace them. The Patriots cut Willie McGinest and kept winning, why can't the Lions let Shaun Rogers go. The Steelers lose a star linebacker every other year, i.e Kevin Greene, Greg Llyod, Chad Brown, Levon Kirkland, Joey Porter but yet they always replace these guys. The Lions can't overcome their personel loses or mistakes. Why is that?

11:25 AM 
Blogger Scott (Thinking Man) said...

I'm at a loss at where to even start with Lions. There are so many problems with this team from simply a talent standpoint, and that's not even mentioning coaching, etc...

For now, I'm going to assume that Coach Rod Marinelli and GM Matt Millen will back in 2008. The first thing Marinelli should do at the conclusion of the season is fire Mike Martz. I don't like his offense and it has been shown over the course of this season, it doesn't work - at least not here in Detroit. I'm not sure if he has had success with it any other place besides St. Louis, but it doesn't fit the personnel we have.

In my opinion, the Lions should go to more of and old-style Oakland Raiders offense. Run the ball, and take shots down the field with these two (allegedly) premium wide receivers. The Lions have shown they can run when they make a committment to it. It's not a coincidence that they've had success this year when they've been more balanced.

As bad as the offensive line is, I think defense must be addressed as top priority in the off-season. The Lions need help in every area on defense. It's hard to evaluate the validity of "Tampa 2" defense given the personnel we currently have. I don't think they could play any style of defense effectively.

I know I've harped on this before, but for the love of God ... please get rid of Shaun Rogers. The way he was pushed around yesterday was embarrasing. There was one of San Diego's TD runs where he was literally pushed back three or four yards. He was only slightly more effective than I would have been and I'm 42 years old, 5-8, 160pounds.

I hate to say this, but I don't see any quick fixes here. To summarize, the Lions need to:

1. Fire Martz/adopt a new offensive philosophy.

2. Develop a young QB.

3. Get a defense.

4. Add quality depth so that special teams don't get embarrased.

5. Cut/trade/waive/hand bus ticket out of town to Mr. Shaun Rogers.

12:30 PM 
Anonymous Tim Anderson said...

Hi Pat,

Very good column today. Who is the best Lions QB since Bobby Layne is a question you ought to consider on your radio show. I guess it might be Gary Danielson or Eric Hipple - two kind of mediocre QB's but the best of the lot.

Thank you for your continued discussions regarding the Red Wings, and your knowledge of the remainder of the league and other levels of hockey. The Wings are a sensational team and I regret that fans are not turning out to see them. I include myself with that because I can't afford to go see them, I'd rather pay $12 to see the Plymouth Whalers.

2:06 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not a Kitna fan. In my opinion, he is a fantastic second string quarterback. I would not, however, leave any of this at his door. The Lions offensive line is pitiful. Kitna is one the most sacked and harrassed quarterbacks in football. Tom Brady couldn't operate behind that line and you can't develop young talent behind that line because it would kill a rookie's confidence.

2:34 PM 
Anonymous Mike from Monroe said...

Hi Pat - I agree Kitna is not the Lions OB answer... he never was. I thought when they hired Martz they should've brought in a better, more successful quarterback to run the show (regardless of cost).

And I'm certainly not a Drew Stanton fan, but you can't say drafting Stanton instead of Trent Edwards was a mistake... not yet. Because of injury we still don't know what Stanton can do in the NFL. Let's at least give him a chance.

10:34 PM 
Anonymous Bryan said...

William Clay Ford renewing Matt Millen’s contract was to me the ultimate sign that the Lions or Lemmings as I call them will always be an incompetent organization. And, that no positive change will occur as long as Ford Sr. is in control of the team. I share your view of Ford as an aristocrat, who has neither the desire nor skills to achieve success. He may have enormous wealth but at the end of the day he and his organization are failures.

Every week I root for the Lemmings to loss, because I know from experience that any semblance of success is only temporary and will ultimately fail. I’d rather they continue looking like bumbling fools because at least it demonstrates that they’re good at something.

I feel bad for the coaches and players who really care about success. It must be extremely difficult to stay motivated when you’re part of an organization that rewards mediocrity and failure.

So, it’s all right with me if William Clay Ford doesn’t care about the fan base or winning because its clear proof that he’s incompetent and that all one needs is money not brains to make money.

Here’s hoping for a 6 and 10 season and another mark in the record book!

Go Lemmings!

5:09 AM 
Blogger Eric Chase said...

Pat - I got to see Terrelle Pryor play on Saturday! He may hate the VY comparisons, but they're certainly warranted. I think he could be the main cog for UM to transform into a successful spread like WVU ran with Pat White. Do you think UM would be smart enough to let him play basketball as well, so Beilein can get that part of the program some exposure? The Crisler Cronies have been second rate to Tom Izzo and the rest of the Big Ten for a long long time!

6:32 AM 
Blogger John said...


Wondering how you think Michigan will look next year...especially on offense and behind center.

I think they have a huge question mark right now at the quarterback position. When I think of Mallet one of the first things that comes to mind behind incredible arm strength and huge size is no athleticism. While Rodriguez could run a spread with him, it would definitely be more in the mold of Oklahoma or Purdue in terms of very pass heavy versus what he's used to doing at WV. If he's not able to adjust his offense to fit Mallet, then Mallet would have no choice but to transfer...maybe to Arkasas to play for Petrino?

Michigan fans better pray they get Terrelle Pryor if this is the case. As a recruiting junkie, I know he's the type of athlete who could come in and start as a freshman. It seems like Michigan should be at the top of his list if Mallet leaves. It's closer than Oregon, has more immediate playing time available and a more dynamic spread offense compared to Ohio State (with Boeckman), and again runs a spread-option attack more so than Penn State.

If he doesn't come and Mallett leaves, who do they turn to...Antonio Bass? At running back McGuffie, if he's physically ready, should see time right away, this offense is perfect for him. I don't know if it fits Brandon Minor or Carlos Brown as well as it does him. Michigan will need some young wide receivers to step up, especially if Manningham and Arrington, their potentially two best returning playmakers, leave. Besides losing Jake Long I would imagine they would be in good shape at offensive line as they already run a zone blocking scheme.

Anyways, I gave you my long-winded analysis, what are your thoughts?

2:29 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Hollis Keys In Detroit...
Stanton may turn out to be OK, but he has already been byassed by Edwards. They put him on the IR soon, as if they could afford to just give the pick away. Typical Lions, I say. And they acted about Kitna as if he is a franchise QB.

5:49 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I have been surprisingly pleased with the NHL Network. I'm addicted to it. Great for us hockey geeks.

5:50 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Scott (thinkingman),
I, too, believe they will be back next year. Given the mindset of Marinelli, I think you are right about their offense. I think they should get a coordinator that thinks setting up the pass with the run, rather than vice-versa like Martz. And adjust their player personnel to do so.

6:18 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

tim anderson said...
Since Layne, the Lions have been at their best when they have two decent, if not great QBs to choose from - Morrall-Plum, Landry-Munson, Peete-Kramer...The Red Wings are underappreciated.

6:31 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kitna's alleged "leadership ability" is complete bull $#$#. What success has he ever led any team to?

The only evidence that Kitna has any great "leadership ability" is that HE HIMSELF keeps running his mouth about it. He sits around and talks and talks and talks about his own leadership ability, and he is aided and abetted in this by Martz, Millen and Macaronielli or whoever the rock-pounder serving as "head coach" is.

Installing a thoroughly mediocre, mistake-prone and panic-stricken QB such as Kitna as your (completely undisputed, completely unchallenged) "team leader" only perpetuates the culture of defeat.

The 52 other guys on the team see their "leader" going out on the field, barfing up disastrous turnovers, choking under pressure, WITH ABSOLUTELY NO CONSEQUENCES WHATSOEVER, such as the possible loss of his starting job, and they figure, "who cares, why bother trying to play well, you won't lose playing time either way."

7:05 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I think you hit the nail right on the head about Kitna. He is the ideal backup QB. He could come in, in the case of injury or poor play by a starter, and provide a spark for several games. But sooner or later, his limitations will be exposed.

10:19 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Mike from Monroe...
I don't agree, although we still have to give Stanton a chance. Edwards has been really impressive. Even in that loss to Cleveland in the snow he almost brought his team back. Some of the throws he has been making have been incredible. He has played a lot better than Kitna lately - and that isn't a very good team.

10:22 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I feel your frustration. It's odd that no matter how bad the team does, the owner doesn't make changes. It's unheard of, really. Success doesn't matter to Ford. Letting the world know it is his team, and he will do with it what he wants does.

10:25 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Eric Chase,
The kid is rare talent and Michigan would do well to land him - both for football and basketball.

10:26 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I don't expect Mallett to stay. I do expect him to transfer. Michigan has to be more appealing to Pryor than West Virginia now that Rodriguez is the Wolverines' coach. I expect them to land him.

10:28 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Kitna did a lot to bring that locker room closer together. He also sold out physically, particularly in the win over the Vikings. Leadership isn't his issue, although I do agree it was getting overblown there for awhile. It's just he isn't that good. It is a lot easier for a great player to be a great leader. Kitna isn't a great player.

10:31 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Leadership ability" is a coaches' / TV color commentators' cliche which, translated into English, "He can't play worth a diddly, but he sure talks a good game."

Marinelli especially (and Millen, ever since his own arrival) is completely snowed by this rah-rah junk, slogans (pounding the rock, clawing the walls, perking the coffee, blah blah), catch-phrases (WTF was that "T.H.U.G. baloney last week?!?), "locker-room leaders," "seasoned savvy veterans," when the bottom line is, you need players who can play football, and can motivate themselves to do it.

It's all Harry Highschool baloney. Even in high school, didn't you just laugh at guys like this -- guys with no talent running around acting like "team leaders"?

On really good teams, the good players become team leaders, because they lead through performance and consistency. They don't have to organize prayer sessions or canasta tournaments in the locker room to do it.

Really good coaches DO NOT ALLOW mediocre, erratic, mistake-prone players like Kitna to become "team leaders."

They tell them, "sit down, shut up and work on playing better YOURSELF, or you'll be doing your cheerleading from the bench. Or the waiver wire."

10:51 PM 
Blogger kbchamber said...

Pat.... once again you have made some valid points, but as you well know the troubles are not just a QB thing, no.. It goes higher than that. We need a front office that wants to win and not just have their name on the worlds largest grave marker.

8:27 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I can't deny you make valid points, especially the coaching staff putting so much in the Kitna basket considering his mediocre track record as a starting QB. He is a little goofy, but I do feel like Kitna has tried to do the right things, but just isn't capable of pulling it off - especially given the mess that is the Lions.

11:15 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I, too, feel like nothing will change until Millen is out and there are drastic changes in the Lions front office.

11:17 AM 

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