Motown Marinelli

Like Mike Nolan in San Francisco, Rod Marinelli is trying to change the football culture in Detroit. Here, Marinelli talks Lions and 49ers and gives his takes on several subjects regarding the two teams and Sunday's game at Ford Field, along with discussing the things he's doing in his first season as head coach to turn things around in the Motor City.

On what he has done to keep up team moral: "Number one, I believe in consistency and the toughness I want to bring to a program. I think the number one thing with leadership is that you stay consistent through the good times, or the bad. People are looking at the leadership as the source of energy. I believe in what we are doing and how we are doing it. There are two words: poise and panic. You show poise when you believe in what you are doing. You show panic if you don't."

On bringing the rock into the locker room: "It's more than symbolic. When you teach it and learn it, it's more like a life skill. It becomes a life skill for any human that, when things are tough, you just keep pounding at it. You don't look forward or behind, you stay in the present. Not many people can do that in day-to-day life. It's really hard to do. You can go and have a bad day at home and go to the office and be worried that you can't write a good story because of what happened at home. The toughness I want is the guy who can let everything else go and just focus on that snap or that moment. That's a life skill and that's why it's not symbolic."

On if he is seeing what he likes out of his team: "At times, yeah. I've sensed it in a couple of games when you can be behind and something goes wrong. It could be a fumble, a major penalty, or a big play against our defense. Let it go, because you can't do anything about it. You just have to go and play the next snap. You always stay in the present, it doesn't matter what your record is. What ever has happened in the past doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is the next snap. You can have a lot of energy and stay positive if you are staying in the present."

On if he looks toward defense first in rebuilding a team: "In terms of defense, that's the number one thing you want to look at because it starts up front. That has been my background and I think both offensively and defensively you have to put together a core of offensive and defensive linemen that can disrupt and do the things you want."

On Mike Williams competing for the third receiver spot: "Oh yeah. Just guys going out, doing the work, and competing on a daily basis."On Williams' work ethic: "Right now he's on our field, on our team and working. I'm just going to leave it at that."

On his process in hiring an offensive coordinator: "Number one, I wanted to get the best one available in the NFL. I had an opportunity to get coach (Mike) Martz and in doing that I got one of the best offensive coaches in the last 20 years in the NFL."

On if he and Martz knew each other previously: "No. We played against him when I was in Tampa Bay. Bears head coach Lovie Smith was one of my closest friends and he worked for Coach Martz in St. Louis. He talked to me and said that he was a phenomenal person, teacher, and everything you would want. I just went hunting, and I was very fortunate to get him here."

On Martz being helpful with game management: "In all areas. You pick his brain, that's just the way I am. You want to get men around you who have different experiences than you have. That was my number one thing. What can happen is that people can let their ego get involved, and be cautious, but I think the number one thing for when I went after Coach Martz was what is the best thing for the Detroit Lions. What's the best thing for Roy Williams, Mike Furrey and Jon Kitna. What can I do to ensure that those guys can have great careers. That was Mike Martz."

On Martz experience with the 49ers, and if he is more into the game-planning than usual: "No, he's the same."

On with having a defensive background, does he give advice to Martz at times: "No, we're very much together in all things. I want a highly explosive offense. We run the ball, and I think it's yards per carry you should look at and not attempts. Those are some of the keys with Mike and he does a great job of understanding the defense. I want to be bold and aggressive on offense, and that exactly what we are."

On his overall impressions of the 49ers: "I see an offensive line and a defensive line that are very good. That's the first thing I look at each week and that's the first thing I told our team. I told them that we are playing an outstanding offensive line that really understands how to block for the power, counter game, and downhill running game. Frank Gore is a heck of a back and I take my hat off to him. He is physical. Alex Smith has got a lot of talent. He has a great arm and mobility. I look at the defense and the one guy that always jumps out at me is Bryant Young. I got ultimate respect for him. You talk about a real pro, who is in shape, highly aggressive, great pass rusher, great run defender who has done it for so many years. You can see his hand print all over that defense."

On the state of the Lions defensive line: "Just like it was last week. Right now Shaun Rodgers is out, and we don't know quite yet about Shaun Cody. We'll see as the week goes on. James Hall was out last week, and we'll see as the week goes on about him. So there's one guy out for sure, and two who are up in the air. I'm fine with the other guys, they work hard and do what I ask them to do, so I'm fine with that."

On making up for the loss of Shaun Rodgers: "What you do is coach the guy who is behind him. You put all your energy and all your belief in that man. If you start to worry about who is not here, you are showing disrespect to who is here."

On when he figured a head-coaching job would be attainable: "When I got hired."

On if he thought he had to be a coordinator first before head coach: "In my thoughts maybe, but the position I held in Tampa was a very unique spot for me. Kansas City head coach Herm Edwards was hired from Tampa as a head coach without being a coordinator so I knew we had something going in terms of that. The number one thing that I don't know about being a coordinator, but it's about building programs. We were there in Tampa along time turning that thing around. Understanding how, it's not just Xs and Os, it's about understanding people. Being able to come up with the philosophy you want, the consistency, the toughness it takes to turn a program around. Knowing exactly what you want in terms of character from your players. The toughness, the passion that you are looking for, and to be able to hire the proper staff, and to be able to motive the staff and the team. Those are some key things in this profession I think you got to have to have a successful organization."

On his first head-coaching interviews: I interviewed a few years back at Cal- Berkeley. Yes, that and Oakland."

On defensive game planning: "Donnie Henderson does that. I sit in all the meetings, and we're running the system we ran in Tampa. Donnie has really done a heck of a job with it. He's got a great pulse of it, and he's added a little flare his own to it. I like it. I'm involved with it, I spend a lot of time with the defensive line, and I am in all the meetings."

On his relationship with Lions President/ CEO Matt Millen: "It's fine."

On their dynamics on draft day: "I thought it was very good. I really like Ernie Sims. There is no ifs and or buts about that. I think he was clearly the best pick in the draft for us by far. He represents everything I believe in as a football coach. His attitude, hustle, effort, hitting, intelligence for this game and how he practice's. Matt was right on board with me."

On why former 49ers head coach Steve Mariucci did not succeed in Detroit: "I couldn't tell you that. You'd have to ask him."

On if he thinks Sims was the best linebacker in this year's draft: "Yes, for us."

On Sims living up to expectations: "That and maybe more. He's a special player. His speed, hitting, and he practices the same way each day. That means something to me. I've been around Derrick Brooks for all those years in Tampa, and in terms of a guy playing that position with the ability to impact the game, he's going to be that type of guy."

On if he makes any defensive calls during the game: "No, just suggestions."


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