The Detroit Lions 2003 season highlight film is a study of offensive struggles, defensive inconsistency, and continuous change. Just as the team fought to gain any semblance of an identity last season, head coach Steve Mariucci now will embark on giving the Lions a much needed facelift.
Speaking with representatives from the Lions organization and Mariucci himself this past week, the Lions enter the off-season with a plan in place. With unwavering support being provided by the front office, Mariucci now enters a critical period of growth for the Detroit Lions organization.
"We made some progress last season, but nearly the progress I or the organization would have liked or expected. One thing we learned last season, much like I learned in San Francisco is that you cannot turn it around overnight," Mariucci recently said. "Issues within the roster, the scheme, and talent have been identified and we are working towards improving this football team now, not later.
We need to improve the depth in many areas, along the offensive and defensive line. Our offensive struggled for many reasons last season, some having to do with the line, others having to so with the lack of a running game, and consistent receivers."
Mentioning issues with the Detroit offense, the team is committed to quarterback Joey Harrington, but knows the growth of the two-year veteran was stunted due to a lack of support and playmakers surrounding him.
"Getting another receiver line up opposite Charles Rogers is a necessity this off-season. Also, we need to run the ball much better than we did last season. On the occasions we ran the ball effectively, the offense played well and all the pressure wasn't on Joey (Harrington) to make something happen," Mariucci continued. "The bottom-line is we need to execute better as a team and it is my responsibility to get this team ready.
"Down here (Senior Bowl), we have the opportunity to see some of these young players in action, as well as talk to them. The talent level coming out in the draft will be very strong, possibly as good as it has been in some time, this is just the next step in building the Detroit Lions."
For Mariucci, year-one in Detroit was a trying experience and one he does not anticipate enduring again.
"I knew we would be in for some tough times last season, but as a coach losing in the manner we did was extremely frustrating. We gave too many opportunities away, we were too inconsistent, this team will be much, much better next season," Mariucci concluded.