ALLEN PARK - Even if interim coach Dick Jauron is passed over in president Matt Millen's search for a permanent replacement for Steve Mariucci, the Lions players say Jauron has left a mark on the team.
Since taking over the coaching duties for his deposed pal Mariucci on Nov. 28, Jauron has extolled the virtues of hard work and accountability. And, even though the Lions were just 1-4 under Jauron's watch, his approach seems to have made an impression.
"I think some of the things Dick started to instill in us, things that we talked about, his demeanor, his attitude, I think it started to rub off," tight end Marcus Pollard said Monday. "I think he did a great job the last five games he coached."
Jauron, who won NFL coach of the year honors for taking the Chicago Bears to a 13-3 season in 2001, has made no secret of his interest in becoming the Lions' permanent head coach.
Millen noted after Mariucci's firing, however, that he had made no commitment to Jauron or any other coaches on the current staff, and it appears he will conduct a thorough search before settling on a successor.
Jauron was aware of that fact, but he seems to feel good about the five games he had as the team's interim head coach.
"I have said all along that I like these players," Jauron said. "I like most players, I like being around them. These guys are hard workers.
"You feel disappointment for them that we didn't have a better year and that we didn't have more success on the field. You just have to believe strongly that the work they put in does make a difference and will make a difference down the road; it will pay off.
"We talked about that a good deal because I think that is the truth. What they do does make a difference on and off the field. They have to believe that and then build on it."