Marinelli fires back at skeptics

He defended his team. He defended himself. And despite the naysayers after two horrific road losses in their first five games, Lions' head coach Rod Marinelli is remaining optimistic. During Monday's press briefing, he fired back at reporters that questioned both the team, and his ability to coach. More news and notes inside.

He defended his team. He defended himself. And despite the naysayers after two horrific road losses in their first five games, Lions' head coach Rod Marinelli is remaining optimistic.

His point? The Lions are still 3-2.

Marinelli called Sunday's 34-3 loss at Washington "a bump" in the road, and fired back at reporters that lobbed obvious questions about his defense and the team's apparent glearing weaknesses.

He walked into his Monday news conference with a bounce in his step and talked in rapid-fire speech about how excited he was that the Lions were just one game out of first place in the NFC North, heading into their bye week.

"I am the source of energy here, and I'm excited about this thing," Marinelli said. "I told them this morning -- and I believe this -- my expectations are the same for them: very high. I believe in this team."

Some might look at the Lions a little differently.

They earned one of their victories after Minnesota's kicker clanked a field-goal attempt off an upright at the end of regulation. They earned another one of their victories after they scored an NFL-record 34 points in the fourth quarter.

Now they have suffered two blowout losses in three games. Is that a bump? Or is a trend?

"We're 3-2 right now, OK?" Marinelli said. "That's the only trend I see, 3-2, one game behind the leader. Most of the league right now is, you've got two teams that have four wins and five or six teams have three. We're right in it. That's what I see. That's what I'm driving at."

But the Lions are 1-2 in their past three games, right?

"I look at all five," Marinelli said. "You're looking at the negative. I'm looking at the positive. Negative sells, so does positive. You go negative, that's fine. I'm going positive."

Is there a time when a team needs a kick in the butt?

"How do you know what is a kick in the butt?" Marinelli said. "What does that mean?"

A kick in the butt might be coming in and saying, "Hey, you guys aren't getting it done. Not good enough."

"How do you know I'm not doing that?" Marinelli said. "I'll keep it between me and my team."

Marinelli didn't do that Monday, however. He told his players pretty much what he told the media.

"I think Rod's the type of guy where he's not going to panic because he believes in what he's doing and he wants everybody else to believe in what he's doing," offensive lineman Jeff Backus said. "He doesn't worry about the loss that we just had. Keep the big picture in mind and stay positive and keep working on the fundamentals of the game and improve on any mistakes that we've made.

"His big thing today was just staying positive, don't panic, this is where we're sitting, all our goals are still out there, this is what we've got to do to achieve those, and that was about it."

Added Backus: "There's different philosophies coaches have and whatnot. I mean, some coaches are harder on you when you win a big game ... but they're more low-key after a big loss and more worried about getting things corrected."

NOTEBOOK:

  • TE Sean McHugh had a cast on his hand Monday.
  • LB Paris Lenon has a sprained foot.
  • RB Kevin Jones, who has played three games since suffering a bad foot injury last season, is so sore after games it affects his practice reps during the week. The Lions are still learning how to balance getting him enough work and keeping him feeling good enough for the game.
  • WR Calvin Johnson, who returned from a bruised lower back Sunday, was sore and stiff late in the game. Coach Rod Marinelli said he could not run full-speed.
  • RT Jonathan Scott has replaced George Foster in two consecutive games, but coach Rod Marinelli did not say whether he would replace Foster permanently. The Lions will evaluate their personnel this week.
  • RG Damien Woody was not inactive because of sore ribs, even though he missed the previous game for health reasons, coach Rod Marinelli confirmed.

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