OPINION: Emotion A Good Thing, But Changes Needed

Williams sent a wake-up call by teammates, Mariucci should send more.

ALLEN PARK - Roy Williams oozes charisma and charm. An eloquent, well-spoken and kind individual, Williams is always available to the media; quick with a quote and a quip.

Williams is also self-effacing, so when asked earlier this week about dropped balls, he didn't get upset, he simply said he needed to do a better job of securing the football.

But things turned ugly briefly for Williams when he ran the wrong route on a corner pass from quarterback Joey Harrington in the endzone that ended up being picked off by Bears corner Nathan Vashar, a former teammate of Williams in the end zone. It looked as if Williams gave up on the play and didn't even try to stop an easy pick for Vashar.

When Williams came off the field, he was ripped by his teammates.

Joey Harrington was first chastising Williams, then came fellow receiver Kevin Johnson who exchanged words with the second-year wideout. Finally and the most heated exchange took place between Williams and running back Kevin Jones.

Jones and Williams had to be separated briefly.

Great job, especially by both Johnson and Jones. Both see an opportunity slipping away from them and they wouldn't stand for it. Bravo.

It's time for the rest of this team to demand accountablity from themselves and their teammates. That play seemed to crystalize what has been wrong with the Lions for the last four seasons. For too long the Lions have had it on 'cruise control'. When they lose, they say they'll look at the film and get their mistakes "corrected".

They've been correcting them for the last four years.

This team has the division title staring them squarely in the face. They are the class of the division. Minnesota is down, Green Bay is way down. Only the Bears have playoff quality talent, but lack a capable quarterback to lead them - Kyle Orton's performance notwithstanding. But excuses, lack of effort and failure to be accountable threaten to derail this ship before it even sails

A loss like this one hurts, and it hurts bad.

It's time for Williams and the rest of the Lions to look within themselves and work harder. Its time for all three first-round receivers to step up to the plate and demand greatness from themselves, nothing else is good enough.

Listen, anybody can make catches when the ball is right in your hands, but the reason they were all drafted in the first round is to make the tough, difficult catch, when the ball is low or high or behind or too far in front.

"I was thinking inside," said Williams, "[Joey] was thinking outside. I've got to go with what he sees. My bad."

Not good enough.

Lions backup quarterback Jeff Garcia rightly pointed out as early as preseason that the Lions receiving corps needed to challenge themselves in practice, to push themselves to live up to their talent and become the players they could be. That message appears to have gone unheaded to date.

It's also time for the offensive line to take a long hard look at themselves. Mariucci benched free agent acquisition Rick DeMulling and inserted veteran Kyle Kosier. Kosier also got in a few plays at tackle. More moves ought to be in store.

Lions head coach Steve Mariucci was as visibly upset in the post-game press conference as I've ever seen him. Knowing what I know about this coach, he isn't going to tolerate these kinds of performances without making some changes.

There aren't going to be any bus tickets, but players should either play their assignment and give their all, regardless of the score, or sit the bench. In the coming weeks, expect to see more of rookie wide receiver Mike Williams, expect to see more of veteran Kevin Johnson, expect to see more of Shaun Cody, expect to see more of guard/tackle Kyle Kosier and expect some changes on special teams.

The Lions have too much talent on their roster to miss this opportunity. Mariucci shouldn't allow it and the players shouldn't allow it. It's time to get off that talent the paper and make it happen on the field.

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