PFT: Lions need to start thinking outside the box

<b>Paws For Thought:</b> If the Lions are serious when they say their motivation is to win the division and try to make a run for the Super Bowl, they need a heavy dose of thinking outside the box. Lions' insider Mike Fowler asks a series of questions the Lions organization ought to consider carefully -- plus, Mike's dream draft scenario.

25%? HOW ABOUT 100%?
If the Lions are serious when they say their motivation is to win the division and try to make a run for the Super Bowl, they need a heavy dose of thinking outside the box.

Now that Ted Tollner is on board as the offensive coordinator, why stop at revamping 25% of the playbook? Why not take a look at everything? Detroit has shown the ability to move the football, but they need to score more touchdowns and make better use of running back Kevin Jones, who sat idle for more than half the season.

Tollner, who understands virtually every offensive concept imaginable, ought to be given free reign to explore the best aspects of the 'K-Gun', 'Greatest Show on Turf', 'Air Coryell' and the 'West Coast' offense - all offenses that he's been associated with - and combine with Mariucci, backs coach Tom Rathman and QB coach Greg Olson to mix them into an explosive brew that baffles opposing defenses.

Why bring in a guy with that kind of experience and then chain him to an offense that ranked in the bottom of the league? When you have weapons like Charles Rogers, Roy Williams and Jones - a group that might one day compare with Indianapolis' triplets - you've got to find a way to make that talent sing.

Here's hoping that Lions head coach Steve Mariucci moves away from the offensive game planning he so loves to do and leaves it in the hands of Tollner. Mariucci seemed at times to be so preoccupied with play calling and the offense that he lost track of some game management issues.

If he can really trust Tollner he ought to cut the cord with the play calling and be more of an administrator, helping out in problem areas, specifically the thing Mariucci supposedly does best, developing quarterbacks. Joey Harrington could use a dose of what Mariucci can bring. Greg Olson would likely welcome the input and help working with the now fourth-year quarterback. During the games, how about managing the clock instead of letting it manage you?

While the salary cap is and has been the bane of many teams, some GMs have been known to throw caution to the wind and pull out all the stops to try to win now with little regard to the consequences. Has there ever been a better time for the Lions to consider taking this route?

Super Bowl XXXX will be in downtown Detroit a year from now. Considering the fact that the Lions have never been in the big game, it would seem to be the time to throw caution to the wind.

What are some moves Detroit might consider? Forget about Jeff Garcia, if you're really serious about making a run, go after Drew Brees or Matt Hasselbeck, young players who could flat beat Harrington out of his job? Sign an explosive wide receiver like T. J. Houshmazedeh, pull the trigger on the trade for playmaking safety Donovon Darius and finally fix that offensive line adding a top flight guard like Green Bay's Marco Rivera. Really give the team a pass rush by adding John Abraham to go along with James Hall.

Forget about building for the future, what better time is there to go for it all when the Super Bowl's in your home stadium?

The Lions will have yet another opportunity to draft in the top-ten. Let's make this the last time this happens for a while unless its via the trade route, OK? But Detroit is in a particular position to make an impact if it plays its card right. The Lions are in a division where the leading contenders are fading fast and in flux.

Detroit has the most talent of any team in the north and can add more with a smart draft. How about this scenario. Find a trade partner willing to part with a second round pick without moving down more than three to five spots.

Take a top flight safety to fix the deep ball problems like Georgia's Thomas Davis. My dream scenario round-by-round: 1st. Davis (after trading down) 2. David Baas - G - Michigan 2. Chris Canty - DE - Virginia 3. Roscoe Parrish - WR - Miami 4. Dustin Colquitt - P - Tennessee. 6. Stefan Leflors - QB - Louisville.

Davis gives the Lions a Ronnie Lott type presence in the middle of the secondary, something Detroit hasn't had since Bennie Blades left. Baas solidifies the middle and Canty gives you a pass rushing threat. Parrish replaces Az Zahir Hakim as the slot receiver while Colquitt give the team a franchise punter. Leflors becomes the developmental QB of the future.

Draft like that and you're on top of the division for the next five-to-seven seasons.

Two published reports regarding the Lions offensive coaching staff are disturbing on their surface.

First, a report out of San Francisco claimed that the Lions denied permission for the San Francisco 49ers to speak to running backs coach Tom Rathman about the offensive coordinator's position in the Bay Area. Late last week, Jeff Duncan, the respected Saints beat reporter for the New Orleans Times Picayune wrote the Lions refused permission for Olson to interview for the offensive coordinator's position.

The Lions said they did not refuse permission for Rathman to interview in San Francisco. Duncan's report is more disturbing. While Detroit would be quite within their right to refuse an interview request for a lateral position, it is almost unethical to refuse to allow an assistant coach to interview for a promotion.

If Mariucci is refusing to allow his assistants to interview for promotions it will certainly affect his ability to attract top flight personnel in the future. Hopefully the reports are simply miscommunication.

Give me your take on any or all of these topics in the message board. I'll check it periodically and respond to the best suggestion/comments/thoughts.

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