ALLEN PARK - Steve Mariucci sounded a little bit like R&B singer Bobby Brown at his weekly press conference.
Not that the coach decided to sing or rap at the weekly session, rather, it was his answers to criticism of his decisions to sit running back Kevin Jones in the fourth quarter and not yield to pressure to name Joey Harrington and Charles Rogers starters for next Sunday's road contest in Dallas.
Mariucci might as well have used a line from Brown's hit song "My Perogative" in explaining why he made the decisions he did. When asked why did Jones sit in the fourth quarter during the four minute drill to end the football game, Mariucci said it was because he wanted him to sit.
"For me to give Kevin Jones more snaps and/or more carries and/or more receptions, then something else has to give," explained Mariucci of his running back by committee rotation. "I don't feel, right now, compelled to take Artose off the field. He is only getting a dozen snaps in a game anyway and he is doing a good job when we give him the ball. Shawn Bryson has been terrific for us. Kevin is going to stay available, stay patient, run."
It should be noted that with 4:46 in the ball game, Jones took a handoff from Harrington off right tackle and ran out of bounds. According to WXYT sideline reporter Tony Ortiz, Mariucci was incensed, yelling "don't run out of bounds" and then telling running backs coach Tom Rathmon "tell him don't run out of bounds." Whether that account is accurate or not, Jones did not re-enter the game from that point.
Then the subject of Charles Rogers came up and the coach was asked why the team wasn't using Rogers more instead of players like Scotty Vines, an undrafted free agent and Troy Edwards, a street free agent signed to a contract about a month ago.
"It is not just about Charles Rogers," countered Mariucci, "It is about the other guys he is competing with. I like the situation with our young wide receivers; we have a bunch of young guys that are trying to earn themselves playing time and certain roles on this team. He is competing against Mike Williams, he is competing against Scottie Vines and Roy and Troy Edwards. Some of it has to do with how they are doing too.
"All he can do is what he can do and practice well and when given an opportunity, make a play; do the right thing and show that he can do this and earn more playing time."
Mariucci even made it known that despite his three touchdown pass performance that earned a dazzling 120.7 passer rating, Joey Harrington is not the starter. The coach emphasized that Jeff Garcia was named the starter and will return to the position once healthy.
"We named Jeff our starter a few weeks ago, the week of the Cleveland game. Since then, I haven't changed my statement," Mariucci said.
What does a guy have to do to win a starting job?
"I don't know. Let's just see what happens. Let's see how we play. He played a good game, I give him that. No question about it. I am just happy to see him play like that."
It appears with the season on the brink and with each game taking on added importance Mariucci has decided to exercise more control and limit outside influence.
The move appears sound with tough opponents Dallas and Atlanta looming over a shortened two-week period. Hey, he's the coach, he can do what he wants to do.