Harrington Ready To Respond to Criticism

Lions' quarterback Joey Harrington says he is his own biggest critic. Judging from the media and fan response to a string of poor performances, that might be difficult to prove. But amid speculation that he could be nearing the bench, the third-year quarterback fired back on Wednesday, stating that he didn't plan on losing his starting position.

(ALLEN PARK) -- After compiling a 32.5 quarterback rating last Sunday, thanks to an 11-for-33 passing performance, Lions' quarterback Joey Harrington is feeling the heat. And alot of it.

In the days following Detroit's third consecutive loss, the dreaded 'b' word has surfaced, along with rumors that Harrington's days as the Lions' signal caller could be numbered. That speculation was only fed this week when backup quarterback Mike McMahon saw an increase in repetitions during practice.

The concern with Harrington is simple: a lack of offensive production. After leading the team to just a field goal against Jacksonville, the third-year quarterback has been, for the most part, ineffective in the two previous losses to Washington and Dallas. And Harrington is quickly running out of excuses.

While Lions' head coach Steve Mariucci declined to place a time frame on any expected improvement, he did note that the quarterback position doesn't escape his constant evaluation.

"We're giving Mike (McMahon) some snaps," admitted Mariucci on Wednesday, "He's always taken some snaps, you know that, but now he's getting a little more just in case a situation presents itself a little bit down the road, he'll be ready to play.

"Obviously, you evaluate constantly. You take a look at the here and now-It's a lot of 'what have you done for me lately' in sports. We all know that. We consider what's been done and how is the progression overall, given certain circumstances, and where he's headed. You have to take all that into consideration."

Last year, McMahon failed miserably in replacement of Harrington in a home loss to Dallas. By the end of the year, Harrington had rebounded well, and displayed strong signs of progesssion in the complex west coast offense. That progress hasn't translated as well as many hoped in 2004. Although injuries and dropped passes have hindered Harrington's performance, they certainly do not define it.

And therein lies the problem.

With a fading playoff picture, replacing Harrington would certainly call into question his career in Detroit, and possibly forfeit the season with a rusty, unproven and still inconsistent McMahon.

In spite of calls for his head, Harrington responded with a sharp practice on Wednesday, and remained unphazed with mounting criticism.

"(Criticism) been a big motivation for me," said Harrington. "Anytime someone comes and tries to challenge what I believe is mine and tries to take something from me, I'm going to fight back. Like I said on Monday, I'm a professional and I know I've had two sub-par games in a row and I want to bounce back just as badly, if not more than anybody on this team. And when you put that kind of challenge in front of me I'm not the kind of guy that's going to step out of the way and take it. I'm going to step back and I'm going to fight."

Known for one of the last (if not the last) players to leave the practice field and film room, and the first to show up, Harrington was defiant that he recognizes his slump -- and can emerge from it.

"I'm never one that's going to short myself on game film. I think people are trying to look to deep here. I'm in a little bit of a funk, a little bit of a slump. Every athlete goes through it.... it's just a matter of getting out, getting in a groove and doing it again."

Mariucci echoed Harrington.

"He's a competitive guy," said Mariucci. "He wants to do well. He wants to play well, he wants to practice well and he's working on it. That's how it's always been. He wants to help this team win."

He has seven more games to prove it.

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