5 + 4 + 3 > 9.
That's not a complex math equation, but rather, it's the equation staring the Lions in the face as they enter day two of their off-season conditioning program en route to the April draft, mini camp, fall training camp and then the 2005 regular season.
Five, as in the number of years Matt Millen has been at the helm of the Detroit Lions franchise and not so coincidentally, the number of years it's been since Detroit fielded a winning team. Millen took over a 9-7 team in 2000 and after initial promises that the team could win immediately, backed off and started a monumental tearing down and rebuilding of the franchise in his image.
Detroit fans suffered through four brutual years of football that no fan should have to suffer through - 2-14, 3-13, 5-11 and 6-10 campaigns. The silver lining in that cloud was the acquisition of high draft picks that were supposed to make sure those depths are not reached again for the next ten years. For better or for worse, here comes Millen's team, led by Joey Harrington, Jeff Backus, Charles Rogers, Roy Williams, Kevin Jones, Boss Bailey, Dre' Bly, Fernando Bryant, Damien Woody and Kenoy Kennedy.
Those are the guys hand selected by Millen to get Detroit over the top. That nine-win number must look daunting.
That's the number of seasons that John Joseph Harrington will have on his resume when he steps on the playing field as a starter this fall. While NFL observers say that three years is enough time to determine whether an NFL quarterback has "it" or not, Harrington's being given year four.
"Would I like for Joey to be in the Pro Bowl? Yes," Lions head coach Steve Mariucci told the media a few weeks ago. "But you also have to take into consideration some other things. He's playing on an awfully young team. His skill positions around him have changed every year for three years and that's kind of slowed his progress down statistically."
Is that the case? Or is Harrington merely the latest of a long line of high draft picks at the quarterback position, like Ryan Leaf, Rick Mirer, Akili Smith and many others who can't live up to the expectations of producing on the NFL level?
Nine wins has to look like an awfully big number to Harrington.
That would be the longest amount of time that Lions coach Steve Mariucci would have ever gone without posting a winning season as a professional head coach. In fact, Mariucci has never gone more than two years before producing a double-digit win total.
After going 4-12 and 6-10 in San Francisco, Mooch responded with twleve and ten win seasons back-to-back. You think he wants that streak broken? Mariucci has prided in his ability to mold a team into a winner. To assure that he keeps his pristine success ratio in tact, he has taken decisive behind-the-scenes action in prodding for the team to acquire former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jeff Garcia to bolster what is arguably the weakest link on the roster.
Nine wins? Heck, Mooch must be aiming for at least ten.
It's an interesting question to ponder. Can a team that has won an average of four games the last four seasons take the quantum leap? A whole lot of people's future prospects and reputations are depending upon them to do just that.
Over or Under - Nine Wins?
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