Harrington Giving Fans a Reason To Watch

At least Joey Harrington has given Lions fans a reason to watch the two remaining games, as meaningless as they might be in the overall scheme of things.

At least Joey Harrington has given Lions fans a reason to watch the two remaining games, as meaningless as they might be in the overall scheme of things.

Forty-two starts -- and 29 losses -- into his NFL career, Harrington has decided it's time to take off the shackles and play a more aggressive style of football.

He tested the water in the Lions' 28-27 loss to Minnesota on Sunday, and he says he will continue to push the ball downfield at every opportunity although he warned that it's not going to be a bombs-away approach.

"It's not like we're back to the old Oakland Raiders style," Harrington said, laughing. "We're still in this West Coast offense. You're throwing crossing routes, you're checking it down when it's not there.

"I think I'm just becoming more comfortable in when and where I can take the shots."

It is helpful, too, when the Lions' receivers make the plays for him that they made against the Vikings. They weren't perfect, but Roy Williams and Tai Streets both made difficult catches.

Harrington, who has thrown 17 TDs and 10 interceptions in the first 14 games of the season, says he is simply fed up with the Lions' steady diet of losing. They were 2-14 the year before he arrived, 3-13 in his rookie season and 5-11 last year, and they're destined for another losing season this year.

"I'm tired of walking off the field and saying, 'You know what? We had a shot,' " Harrington said. "What does that get you? Screw it. You go for it and if you lose it, then you went down swinging.

"Three years of coming up close, I'm getting tired of it."

Not all of the losing is the quarterback's fault, but, as usual, the quarterback ends up taking the biggest share of the blame. Especially in Detroit.

Fans -- and even coach Steve Mariucci -- have become increasingly frustrated with Harrington's inclination to check down to short throws instead of pushing the ball to receivers down the field.

Part of the problem could be blamed on the undependability of the receivers although Harrington has never criticized them. And, now that he has a better receiving corps -- notably rookie Roy Williams -- he apparently feels more comfortable taking chances downfield.

"What Joey's got to learn to do more often is throw the ball down the field," Mariucci said. "Trust his arm, trust his decision-making, trust his receivers, trust that he can fit it in there.

"That's a process. You've got to do it in practice and experiment a little bit, knowing, 'Hey, I can make that deep throw or that seam throw or that deep out.' Do it more often in the games and know what he can do and what he can't do."

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