Below is a collaboration of thoughts written by staff columnists Jamal Hayden and Adrian Donofrio, as they share their thoughts on rookie quarterback Joey Harrington's arrival into the National Football League.
In an attempt to overcome one of the worst quarterback histories in the NFL, rookie Joey Harrington steps into the fray, (or is it the firing line?), that is the Lions starting quarterback position. Lions' quarterbacks have been so bad through out the years that "Paper Lion" author George Plimpton wasn't even the worst to don the Honolulu Blue and Silver. (That distinction belongs to Jeff Komlo).
In a season that has quickly degenerated into a complete debacle, Harrrington presents the only reason for hope. Are we expected to get excited when geriatric corners Todd Lyght and Eric Davis accidentally make a play on the ball? Or how about watching as 39-year-old offensive lineman Ray Brown valiantly tries to move his old bones while pulling on a trap play? For a team that is supposedly rebuilding, this team inexplicably, incredibly, has 18 players at thirty-years of age or older.
If I'm Bill Ford Jr., my first question to Matt Millen is, how in the world is this possible?
So if you are a Lions fan, allow yourself to fantasize about this Sunday's game against Green Bay. Dare to dream. Picture Harrington hitting Az Hakim in stride on a slant for a 30-yard TD. Picture our pal Joey floating one in the corner of the end zone to Mikhael Ricks for the game winner. You may as well. It's all we have left.
Oh sure, eventually Marty will insert youngsters Andre Goodman, Kalimba Edwards, and Chris Cash into the starting line up. But by then the season will be a total wash and the last half of the schedule will resemble exhibition games. This is the cold reality. For now, allow yourselves to bask in the warm glow of Joey Harrington's meteoric rise to stardom.
Paws For Thought
- What's a bigger myth? Brian Billick, "offensive genius", or Marty Mornhinweg, "quarterback guru"?
- Do you think it's occurred to anyone in the Lions organization that by having roughly 35 coaches on the team, the message to the players gets lost in the translation?
- All those "same old Lions" teams that were 9-7 and scrapping to get into the playoffs look pretty attractive right about now, don't they?
- And Wayne Fontes and Bobby Ross don't look so bad either.
- And those "same old Lions" teams would probably win this Sunday.
- It breaks my heart to see the Rams and the unbelievably smug Mike Martz 0-2
- It's bad enough the Lions are the laughing stock of the league, but do we really need Terry Bradshaw and his band of buffoons invading Ford Field?
- Anyway they take Millen with them when they leave?
- Kurt Schottenheimer has been quite an addition thus far.
- I'd say the Lions were the Rutgers of the NFL, but where's the guaranteed win against Army?
- Finally, can we bring Chris Spielman in as a coach? In some capacity? I mean what's the difference between 34 and 35 assistants? Perhaps he could be "running downs" linebackers coach. Seriously though, he needs to be a part of the organization.
The bright, exuberant lights glowing in your eyes. The slow, melodic spinning -- slow enough to keep your stomach from turning, but fast enough not to lull you to sleep. It's Detroit's favorite ride, the unmistakable quarterback carousel.
Last year, Lions' head coach Marty Mornhinweg stated he did not want a quarterback carousel, going from Charlie Batch to Ty Detmer back to Batch and finally to Mike McMahon. And through it all, he reiterated he did not want a switching of quarterbacks. However, it got even worse this year, most noticeable last week against the Panthers. Joey Harrington and Mike McMahon switched back and forth in a lose-lose game of tug of war four times.
Both struggled, grasping for any continuity they could. Both men came up empty handed.
But the ride stops this week. The bright lights will slowly dim to a sleepy black, and the spinning will slow to a stop as the plug is pulled on the queasiest ride Detroit has ever been a part of. Joey Harrington is the quarterback, and will be for the rest of the season, barring injury. There will be no spot duty by anyone. The reigns have been handed Joey, and it's up to him if he decides to keep the offense at a steady trot, or go for the jugular with a kick and a loud "Yeehaw!"
But how Harrington plays, as strange as it may sound, is a moot point at this particular moment. What does matter is the offensive unit has one leader, one person to look to. No more questioning who will be the leader of the team on a certain week, or even a specific drive. Harrington has the keys to the car and he is alone on the highway. No looking over his shoulder. McMahon is relegated to the official backup position; something Detroit hasn't had since Marty Mornhinweg arrived. There was never a true backup, with the spot duty always happening with different quarterbacks.
Marty can't bring in McMahon as a starter unless there is an injury to Harrington. If he goes back to McMahon as the starter, say because Joey struggles, it will undoubtlebly kill any credibility he has. A state of confusion would envelop the Lions once again, and that would counteract whatever sense of organization the team has acquired by naming Harrington the starter. Any speculation of Mornhinweg's job being in jeopardy would surface more than ever before. Although he assures the media and the fans he isn't making the move to bury the speculation and buy him time as a coach, it does exactly that, albeit temporarily.
Harrington will be the starter for the rest of the year -- and that's the way it should be since they decided they will go with the rookie quarterback from Oregon.
The quarterback carousel was not only hurting everyone who rode it, but it's one the staff could no longer afford to run. The plug has been pulled, Detroit, get ready for a whole new ride. It'll be bumpy, but if Harrington is the quarterback everyone thinks he is -- the ride will more exciting than any ride Lions fans have ever been a part of.
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