Mariucci: We Will Be Better

The day after a horrid performance where each unit underachieved, Lions' head coach Steve Mariucci had a clear message to discouraged fans.

The Lions will be better.

Mariucci was barraged with questions, and felt the heat from the media during his 30-minute briefing about as often as QB Joey Harrington did 24 hours prior.

But he started by deflecting some of the criticsm from two of the more maligned targets: the offensive line and Harrington.

On the line not giving Harrington enough time in the pocket, Mariucci made sure responsibility wasn't dumped sorely on one unit.

"When I say protecting the quarterback, I think often times we make the mistake of saying 'well it is the offensive line' and that is not necessarily the case," said Mariucci. "There are so many other things that are involved in terms of (running) backs protecting, in terms of audiblizing and in terms of running quick throws and hot throws with the receivers or adjusting routes and changing the protection at the line of scrimmage and those sort of things.

"It entails all of that and that is one area we have to look at over and over again and get fixed this week."

Even though Harrington threw a career high five interceptions, Mariucci did ensure the press that he recognizes that it wasn't entirely his quarterback's fault.

"The first (interception) was batted down by a defensive lineman, and it just Velcroed onto him which is kind of a freak thing," he said, reiterating that Harrington would have remained the starter regardless of whether or not backup Jeff Garcia was healthy. "It set up the short field touchdown for 43-yards. The one to Roy (Williams) in the end zone, Roy ran his route inside and Joey threw it on the outside and thought he would be on the outside and they weren't on the same page on that particular play. One I don't think you saw was the defender Mike Brown coming from the middle, the guy made a heck of a play on it. One to Casey Fitzsimmons was thrown a little bit behind him and the linebacker came off and made a nice play down in the red zone."

Mariucci continued: "There was a variety. Were their people in his face a couple of times? Yes. He had to throw the ball a little bit early or prematurely without setting his feet and stepping into it."

"We need to help him out a little bit better than that."

Mariucci also addressed two main concerns on both sides of the ball: conservatism. One of Mariucci's biggest criticisms has been his conservative playcalling, and an apparent unwillingness to 'unleash' Detroit's offensive and defensive playmakers.

"If you define conservative as running the ball, then we need to be more conservative," responded Mariucci, who cited the 8 carries by running back Kevin Jones as inefficient. "We need to establish the ground game."

On the defensive side, the coaching staff was criticised for not blitzing rookie QB Kyle Orton.

"There's a lot of different ways to play defense," Mariucci said. "Some ways are to blitz like crazy and some are to play good, steady coverage with a four man rush to not give up any big plays. There's a lot of different ways to get that done."

"That is probably more times blitzing than ever for us." He put the number of blitzes at around 25, but said many were picked up or occurred during running plays.

Mariucci was non-committal to whether or not WR Mike Williams and OL Kyle Kosier would come in to shake things up in their respective units.

"We have been alternating (Mike) in there and I think there is some merit in doing that to keep guys fresh and healthy and playing fast."

"We are just letting Kyle (Kosier) play. He has started in this league before and we gave a couple of guys a rest and he played some tackle and he played some guard. He did a fine job and so we are keeping him ready in case we ever need to do that."

LIONS NOTES: Lions release K Remy Hamilton and re-sign FA G David Loverne (Hamilton will be placed on practice squad) .... Lions-great Robert Porcher volunteered in the Monday Night Football telethon call center, raising funds for New Orleans disaster relief .... Lions KR Eddie Drummond is currently ranked fourth in the NFC with a kickoff return average of 23.5.

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