Lions' quarterback Joey Harrington ranks 30th in passing efficiency and the team hasn't scored 20 points in a contest in their first two tries. Something has to change. Mariucci said his club needs to try to use the Chicago game as motivation and yet concentrate on the challenge at hand.
"There is no way they can get around forgetting about what happened in Chicago," admitted Mariucci. "People are very prideful. Sometimes one feels backed into a corner, but everybody handles it differently; some guys use it as motivation some guys care to focus on the here and now. The most important thing is to get focus on the next game because it's a different team, it's a different plan, it's a different scheme and you better get your mind set on Tampa Bay real quick."
Detroit's offensive line is at the forefront of the team's inability to move the football consistently. Breakdowns in blitz packages have exposed the unit and at times, they can't seem to execute routine coverages. The Bears pressured Harrington from the first snap and that isn't likely to change Sunday when they go into Tampa to play a Buccaneers team that might have the best defense in football.
"Everything went wrong," said Harrington of the loss. "We made mistakes on things that we have been doing correctly all season. It turned into one of those games where we just couldn't do anything right. Certain games, there are times when you walk away and say 'okay, well this is something we can improve on,' or 'this is what we did well and here is what we need to work on.' We were just terrible, and that never sits well."
Unless the offensive line can find away to execute the offense, the Detroit running game is going to be stuck in the garage. Offensive line coach Pat Morris worked intensely with his group over the last two weeks in an attempt to fix what ails them. First and foremost, they need to be able to effectively run block to spring some holes for second-year pro Kevin Jones.
"What we talked about last week is being able to run the ball more effectively, more often and throughout the entire game on offense," said Mariucci. "We talked about getting to the quarterback more often and protecting ours and some of the very basic type things that everybody from Pop Warner on up has to concern themselves with, but the main thing - even in talking in our team meeting today was about the front seven, about the line of scrimmage and winning that battle."
It would also be nice if Detroit could get something out of second overall pick Charles Rogers. While Rogers is healthy this year, he's been largely
ineffective. It appears that Harrington looks to Roy Williams first whereas in Rogers' first season, Harrington looked almost exclusively to him.
Where Williams has been inconsistent, Rogers has been almost non-existent. It would help if Harrington got him into the act early. Rogers is a player who thrives on opportunity and while he hasn't vocalized his displeasure just yet, it's clear that Harrington needs to spread the ball around to keep all his receivers happy.
A key to the game could be emerging rookie wide receiver Mike Williams. Williams is a big physical target who can make the tough catch in traffic. Heading back to his native Tampa, Williams would like nothing more than to have a breakout game.
"You should have that type of mentality every game,"said Williams. "You want to make the best of every game, the more opportunities you have the more opportunities you have to do great things." Williams also said he feels he's drawn even with the other Lions receivers in terms of his understanding of the offense.
"You know I think I'm right here with the (other wide receivers), and I think that's why I play a lot more. I think I'm right were I need to be as
far as the playbook and game plans and things like that - I don't think the coaching staff would go into meetings saying, 'Mike may not know this yet so we can't run this play.' I think they have the confidence that I know all the stuff."
Mariucci had stated earlier he's going to give Harrington the freedom to change plays at the line of scrimmage and go after the plays he thinks are available. That makes sense because it allows Harrington to play to his strengths and get the ball into the hands of the hot receiver.
Detroit needs to take the wraps off in this one because they won't face a tougher defense all year than the Bucs and this would be the perfect time to erase the bad taste in their mouths from last weeks humiliating loss. Harrington, for his part, says he's hoping there a similarity to last season when Detroit came off a loss and went to Atlanta and got a win.
"I hope so. I believe there is. I know this team is sick at what happened the last time we played and we are ready to go make it right."