ALLEN PARK - The Lions hope they have another Bill Cowher and not another Marty Mornhinweg in new head coach Rod Marinelli.
Marinelli, 56, gets his first shot at being anything other than a defensive line coach with the Detroit Lions. Despite never having risen above the level of defensive line coach, many NFL observers believe Marinelli have what it takes to succeed.
Among the most enthusiastic supporters of Marinelli is his son-in-law Joe Barry, Tampa Bay's linebackers coach. Barry, if allowed to interview for the position, is expected to be one of Marinelli's top candiates to be his defensive coordinator.
Barry told the Tampa Tribune "It would be nice if they [the Bucs] looked at it differently this time. It'd be great, because Rod and I have always talked about working together, him as head coach and me as his coordinator. I'm keeping my fingers crossed."
There is no question that the Tampa defense had great success with those two working under coordinator Monte Kiffin.
The Lions hope that his teaching technique, his attention to detail and his intense manner will translate into a team that is more disciplined, makes few mental mistakes and is sharper in its execution.
"The discipline really wasn't there the last couple of years," said Lions fullback Cory Schlesinger.
"I think [Millen's] bringing in a coach who is going to be a little bit more strict, so the players are not going to be able to get away with really anything. But he isn't going to be a Tom Coughlin who's going to fine them for every thing either. I think this is going to be a good fit for this organization, I'm very excited to see what he can do."
The new head coach will have to make some critical decision almost immediately. Besides naming his offensive, defensive and special teams coordinators, Marinelli will have significant input on a couple of roster decisions, quarterback Joey Harrington and wide receiver Charles Rogers.
Rogers, who served a four-game suspension for substance abuse was the subject of much scrutiny upon his return. Marinelli will likely attempt to quickly rid the team of players he considers "bad apples" but will he wipe the slate clean and give Rogers, the second overall pick in the 2003 draft, a chance to redeem himself?
Another question is whether the new coach believes he can be successful with Harrington. Millen has stated publicly that the new coach will not be married to Harrington and will make the decision on what to do with him.
If Harrington restructures his contract, he will likely get a shot at working with the new head man. He will probably try to gauge interest around the league, if he doesn't renegotiate, Detroit may decided to release him prior to paying him a $4 million roster bonus due in March. Ironcially, Tampa Bay starter Brian Griese, who is due a roster bonus that will take his cap number to nearly $7 million could be a candidate to join Marinelli in Detroit.
Detroit needs to make substantial upgrades to its offensive line and needs tweaks in the defensive line and secondary along with finding a quarterback.