Another banner year for the Detroit Lions.
Too bad the banner reads "Wait 'til next year."
Maybe part of Rod Marinelli's master plan is to build around next year's No. 1 overall pick.
Let's see, who is available at No. 1?
Joe Thomas? The O-lineman is good, but the last time the Lions selected a Wisconsin blocker, it didn't work out so well.
Brady Quinn? The last time the Lions took a first-round QB, it didn't turn out so hot. Actually, the last three or so times.
Ted Ginn Jr.? Hey, why not? Millen has to get it right on a first-round wide receiver pick eventually. Practice makes perfect (except for Mike Williams). (OK, Roy Williams has worked out, but he also need to learn to catch the routine pass).
If they land the No. 1 selection, the best thing to do is to trade the pick for a bevy of picks like San Diego did for Eli Manning. The Lions have more than just one need, so filling those spots with multiple picks would be better than the annual "rest all our hopes on one new guy" strategy. Hey, it's a better plan than playing Josh McCown at wide receiver, isn't it?
For the record, I don't blame Matt Millen for the Lions' predicament. The guy has made some mistakes, sure. But who is the bigger fool, the fool or the fool that hired him? I'm looking at you, Mr. Ford.
Millen had no experience whatsoever in the job he currently has. I'd like to have seen that interview. Imagine you stride into Electronic Arts' offices to apply for that shiny lead programmer job. They ask if you have any experience, to which you reply, "I rule on Madden." They look at you blankly and call security.
Millen is on the hot seat in Detroit. Lucky for him he was in Arizona this week, so it's a dry heat.
And speaking of interviews, I wonder how Mike Martz' went with the Cardinals? That had to be awkward.
(Picture Martz sneaking into the Cardinals' owners box at halftime and plopping down his resume on the table. Cards' owner Bill Bidwill says, "Look at the scoreboard. 17-0. And we're supposed to hire you?" Martz shoots back with his elaborate plan to stage a second-half comeback with Arlen Harris as his running back and Josh McCown at receiver.
"Is that the same McCown we had last year and let go?" Bidwill inquires.
"Um, yeah," Martz replies.
"Well, thanks for your time, Mr. Martz. Security!")
In a woeful 17-10 loss, the Lions handed the Cardinals their longest drive of the season (97 yards), their longest run of the year (19 yards to Edgerrin James), and, by the way, only their second win of the season. I'd hate to have seen Denny Green's tirade after this game if they'd have lost. No, wait, that'd be some good viewing. The first one this year was so well done, I'd like to see how he'd top it.
What the Cardinals gave the Lions in return was a list of guys to add to the injury report.
Kevin Jones (ankle), Shaun Cody (toe), Eddie Drummond (concussion), DeVale Ellis (shoulder) left the game, adding to the bevy of injuries the team had already incurred.
Obviously, Jones is the biggest of the four. Dre' Bly did a decent job in place of Drummond, and Ellis' injury may force the Lions to actually play Mike Williams. With Shaun Rogers expected to miss this Thursday's Thanksgiving game against the Miami Dolphins and our old pal Joey Harrington because of a surgery he had while serving a four-game suspension, the Cody injury also looms large, because Tyoka Jackson and Marcus Bell just don't strike fear in any quarterback, not even Joey Blue Skies.
However, Martz had a dream come true. With KJ out and backups Shawn Bryson and Brian Calhoun both out for the season, he'll have a justifiable reason to throw on every single play. No more pretending to like running plays. Kitna could throw 80 times this week (which means he'll get drilled 40 times as the O-line does its matador blocking routine).
The one thing the Lions have working for them this Turkey Day is that Joey Harrington is historically awful in Ford Field.
But the fact that he has what resembles a real NFL franchise behind him is concerning. Detroit just can't match that.
James Cook is an award-winning columnist with the Traverse City Record-Eagle