Mariucci Claims Off-Season "By Far" Team's Best

After four years and a steady diet of losing game after game, it might take more than personnel changes to get the Lions back to respectability.

(ALLEN PARK) -- After four years and a steady diet of losing game after game, it might take more than personnel changes to get the Lions back to respectability. And that is what coach Steve Mariucci has been working on during the six months since the end of the 2004 NFL season.

Mariucci is hoping to establish a new attitude on this year's team, in addition to getting his players physically prepared for the start of training camp in late July and the regular season in September.

"I think these guys are very in tune to what sort of calendar year we expect from them in terms of the entire body at work," Mariucci said. "From the 14 weeks in the off-season through the mini-camps, through being in shape before they get to training camp, the certain tempo in the way we practice and developing a certain work ethic."

Although Lions coaches seem to inevitably say "this year's" off-season workouts are the best ever, it has done little for the team's fortunes the past four years.

The Lions were 2-14 in 2001, 3-13 in 2002, 5-11 in 2003 and 6-10 last year. Although there has been improvement every year, it is at a pace that won't get them back to .500 for two more seasons and into a contender's role for another two or three years after that.

In Mariucci's third season, he is hoping that the combination of physical preparation and mental attitude will accelerate the pace of the Lions return to respectability.

"A system and a philosophy have to be ingrained and we are doing that, and we have done that," he said. "There are new faces every year to incorporate but I have been really pleased with this off-season so far this has been by far our best off-season."

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