Behind Enemy Lines, Part 1

With the Dolphins getting ready to face Detroit on Thanksgiving, Dolphin Digest took time out to find out about the Lions by checking in with publisher Nate Caminata. Part 1 focuses on Joey Harrington's return to Detroit and the Lions' quarterback situation.

DD: How would you describe new head coach Rod Marinelli, and are the Lions headed for better days with him?

Caminata: Marinelli is a disciplinarian with both military in background and name -- head coaching traits that the team needed desperately after the Steve Mariucci days. However, he is also dealing with Mariucci's leftovers, and the team's current on-field issues mirror the problems that come along with the magnitude of transition between the two coaching staffs. It's too early to judge Marinelli long term, but he has surrounded himself with a talented coaching staff. Once he obtains his own players, the shift in Detroit will be more evident. Whether or not that is for the better remains to be seen.

DD: What kind of reception would you anticipate Joey Harrington getting on Thursday?

Caminata: Hmmm, it's Thanksgiving, so a warm welcome would seem appropriate, wouldn't it? Don't count on it. Despite its storied history as a losing franchise, Harrington still caught the brunt of the Lions' failures since arriving as the No. 3 overall pick in 2002. Because their "savior" was unable to deliver, most fans and radio media alike have found it therapeutic to dump the blame on his shoulders -- whether just or not. Let's put it this way: During a training camp scrimmage last season, Harrington was booed by the Ford Field crowd the moment he stepped onto the field. This was before the team had even played a preseason game.

DD: What was the perception of Harrington in the locker room, and do you think some of his former teammates are anxious to face him?

Caminata: Harrington had only a few close friends on the roster in Detroit, and the alienation among the fans, media and coaching staff eventually reached his teammates. Many media guys who have covered the team extensively believe that Harrington's winning personality (which was often mistaken as "Happy go lucky" or "Joey Blue Skies") upon arriving in Detroit rubbed his teammates the wrong way -- go figure. Interestingly, while he didn't have many friends in Detroit, he also didn't have many enemies. While some of his former teammates might find Thursday's situation unique, it's hardly a motivational tool.

Why didn't it work out for Harrington in Detroit?'

Caminata: How long do you want this article? (chuckle). It didn't work out for Harrington the moment he entered Detroit. A quarterback selected that high in a city frantic for an immediate winner has little to no chance of ever seeing it to fruition. Oh, and Steve Mariucci certainly didn't help matters. While Harrington's supporting cast changed frequently and his receivers were either incapable or injury-prone, the only supportive coach he ever had -- Marty Mornhinweg -- was relieved by Matt Millen after Joey's rookie year. Upon entering, Mariucci didn't back Harrington publicly or privately, and by the time Mariucci was finally fired, the damage had already been done.

DD: Do you think the Lions are on the verge of making a quarterback switch from Jon Kitna to Josh McCown?

Caminata: Publicly, Rod Marinelli has given his unwavering support for Jon Kitna. But things change. If the Lions continue their losing ways, Marinelli will be forced to make a decision. It won't likely happen during a nationally televised contest, but if Detroit lays an egg, a change to the young and more athletic McCown is a possibility.

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