Lions Notebook: Forecast is (very) dim

With the long Thanksgiving weekend behind them, the Detroit Lions are ready to turn their attention to the remaining five weeks of the NFL season. And it's not a very appealing vision. More news and notes inside.

With the long Thanksgiving weekend behind them, the Lions are ready to turn their attention to the remaining five weeks of the NFL season. And it's not a very appealing vision.

The Lions are struggling with a 2-9 record, floundering worse than they have at any time all season and the NFL schedule-maker is showing them no mercy. At least that's one way of looking at it.

The other way of viewing it is that the Lions just wasted their best opportunity of the season -- losing consecutive games to San Francisco, Arizona and Miami -- and now they have to prepare to finish the season against some of the NFL's better teams.

The Lions begin the final month of the season Sunday with a game at New England, followed by Minnesota, Green Bay, Chicago and the Dallas Cowboys. Three of the five are leading their divisions and the Lions already have lost once this year to Minnesota and Green Bay.

To make it worse, the Lions are battling a devilish injury bug and the current three-game losing streak is threatening to take the heart out of them.

"I'm tired of hearing about how hard we played and 'if we just do this' and 'it's just by a little bit' and by 'that much,'" said linebacker Donte Curry, the Lions' special teams captain. "We just need to go out there and dominate for four hard quarters and, until then, it's going to be tough on us."

With the change of coaches and a seemingly new, positive approach, there was a feeling that the Lions were on their way to escaping a five-year run at the bottom of the NFL standings. They knew it wouldn't be easy but there was a feeling that there would be movement as the season progressed.

Instead, they have gone the other way. Instead of gathering momentum with the softest portion of their schedule -- the 49ers, Cardinals and Dolphins -- the Lions have found nothing but discouragement.

"I'm kind of speechless," said tackle Jeff Backus, "because I really believe in coach (Rod) Marinelli and his philosophy of football and the way he is coaching us. To not show positive results or have positive results is extremely disappointing and frustrating. It's just not what anybody expected and we have to somehow figure this thing out."

The next loss -- and the oddsmakers say it will come in the game Sunday at Foxborough -- will push them to their sixth consecutive double-digit loss season and there is little suggest they will finish the season on any kind of upswing.

Marinelli is doing his best to stay focused on the work ethic and dedication he feels are the necessities in turning around a losing program.

"I've always been about working and I just believe in work," Marinelli said after the 27-10 loss to Miami on Thanksgiving Day. "I believe in preparation, I believe in respect in this game and I believe in just what I told the players right afterward.

"This stuff, I just move on. I just believe in them. I'm going to go right back and coach them very, very hard. When you put it on yourself and your staff, it's up to us to get them ready and play better ... no, I still see light and I'm just going to keep working at it."

PLAYER NOTES

  • WR Mike Williams, who was inactive for seven games and did not play in another, has finally made the Lions' statistic sheet 11 games into the season. Williams got his first reception -- a seven-yarder -- against Miami in the Thanksgiving Day game. The Lions coaches have had issues with Williams' weight and his work ethic.
  • FS Terrence Holt, whose starting job seemed vulnerable when the Lions went to training camp in July, has started all 11 games and leads the team with three interceptions.
  • S Daniel Bullocks, the Lions' second pick in the 2006 draft, did not unseat Terrence Holt for the FS job as originally anticipated but the rookie is continuing to make a strong impression on the defense. Bullocks has had seven starts in the secondary, including several at SS where Kenoy Kennedy has battled injuries most of the season. Bullocks had a season-best 11 tackles on Thanksgiving Day against Miami and is third among Lions defenders with 60 tackles.
  • WR Roy Williams needs just seven receiving yards Sunday in the Lions' game at New England for his first 1,000-yard season in the NFL. In his previous two seasons he had 54 receptions for 817 yards and eight TDs (2004) and 45 receptions for 687 yards and eight TDs (2005). So far this year he has caught 60 balls for 993 yards and has four touchdowns.
  • CB Dre' Bly, who has had at least four interceptions in each of the past three seasons on his way to two Pro Bowl appearances, has just one interception in a low-profile 2006 season. Bly had six interceptions in 2003 and 2005, and four in 2004 as the leading playmaker among Lions defenders.

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