PAWS FOR THOUGHT: Does Marty Know Talent?

You have to begin questioning whether Lions' head coach Marty Mornhinweg knows talent when he sees it. Lions' insider Mike Fowler reviews several questionable roster moves Detroit has made since Millen and Mornhinweg have taken over, and the consequences of those actions.

You have to begin questioning whether Lions' head coach Marty Mornhinweg knows talent when he sees it. With an often injured James Stewart as his main running back, Mornhinweg elected to release promising rookie James Mungro--likely in an attempt to sneak him through to the practice squad--and keep instead veteran Lamont Warren.

Warren, who started in place of Stewart yesterday in Miami, was totally ineffective. Warren rushed five times for just eight yards, a paltry 1.6 yards per carry average. Meanwhile, Mungro was quickly scooped up by the Indianapolis Colts. Detroit's leading rusher was fullback Cory Schlesinger with 28 yards rushing.

Detroit released former first round pick in 1998, cornerback Terry Fair, who was slow to heal from an injury. Fair's agent Reggie Allen explained that Detroit had sent representatives to supervise Fair's rehabilitation program. Fair's representatives and the Lions reached an agreement on Fair's progress back to the active roster, only to have Detroit rush Fair back a game early, then eventually release the defensive back. Fair was quickly snapped up by the first team he visited, next week's opponent, the Carolina Panthers. Fair also got a $400,000 raise in the process.

Fair's replacement, Eric Davis, looked very old, as Dolphins' quarterback Jay Fiedler played pitch and catch on his side of the field with young receiver Chris Chambers. Wouldn't you have liked to seen Fair in the game rather than Davis? This is where Lions CEO Matt Millen should have stepped in. Talent is hard to come by in the NFL and there is no question Fair has talent, more than most corners on the Detroit roster. It's understandable that Mornhinweg would be frustrated with Fair's slow recovery, but putting him on waiver was inexcusable. Millen should have intervened, overruling the coach and ordered Fair put on the PUP reserve list for six weeks. Now, he'll be lining up for the opposition next Sunday.

Then, there was the release of former #1 wide receiver Johnnie Morton. Granted Morton didn't light it up for Kansas City on Sunday, catching just one ball for 15 yards, but you would have never seen Morton slow up or short arm a ball to avoid a hit the way Bill Schroeder did in putting up a zero catch performance against Miami. Schroeder, who was been sidelined with an assortment of nicks and bruises, seemed to try to avoid contact at every turn in this debacle.

Then, Detroit allowed tough tight end David Sloan to walk in this offseason, only to replace him with converted tight end Mikhael Ricks. Ricks would have been a great #2 tight end to COMPLIMENT Sloan. That would have given Detroit a great threat in the seams. Instead, Detroit is forced to start a rookie, John Owens, along with Ricks.

Finally, the worst debacle was the Matt Millen/Jeff Hartings move. You know all about it, but it still hurts. The worst part is that the Lions had to pay more to trade Brendan Stai then the Steelers are paying Hartings to start at center for them. More dead money, less talent.

No one wants to see the Lions look like this. The fans have the most painful experience hoping against hope only to be let down, time and again. The clock is ticking on Mornhinweg and Millen. Another 0-6 start, which is entirely possible, is unacceptable. Mr. Ford, if you haven't started looking around for replacements, I have a short list that I'll be happy to share with you.

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