Lions Notebook: Big Baby No More?

Shaun Rogers is not likely to return to the Lions, according to a report -- but does he have any trade value? Plus, new offensive coordinator Jim Colletto distances himself from Mike Martz's methods, and much more inside.

When the Lions introduced Jim Colletto as their new offensive coordinator, it quickly became clear that they were distancing themselves from Mike Martz and his methods.

Colletto said things like "You don't have to be a genius to figure these things out" and "It's not rocket science." Asked about his philosophy, he talked about a "balanced attack."

Martz, of course, was hailed as a genius because of his record-setting offenses in St. Louis. His system was the closest thing to rocket science in the NFL - a lot of plays, with a lot of shifts, motions and formations. He was often unbalanced, preferring passing over running.

The Lions didn't handle it well.

"The only thing I can say in terms of problems is, we just had too much," Colletto said. "We couldn't do all the things that we tried to do all the time. The repetition of some of the things wasn't as thorough as it should have been.

"Don't fool the troops. I'd use different terminology if this wasn't in public, but the players are the key. It's not the coach. It's the player."

The Lions want a more simple, straightforward offense, and they hope that will help support the defense and keep them competitive on the road.

"I want to make sure that we run a real balanced style of football," Colletto said. "Make the defense have to play both run and pass. You have play-action passes off your best runs. You don't have to be real fancy. You just have to be a good execution team.

"If you look at the teams that are playing in the NFL playoffs and are now approaching the Super Bowl, they aren't a bunch of wild-looking teams. They do the same things week in and week out, and they do them well with good players."

The Lions plan to pare down the playbook - keep what works, drill it, gain confidence in it and create an identity. They won't be afraid to run the same bread-and-butter plays again and again. They plan to cut down on the shifts, motions and formations.

"We're not going to be a lot of shifting and wideouts going on all these different sides and all that kind of stuff, because I think they get tired doing that and I couldn't figure out what they were doing anyway," Colletto said. "As long as I can figure it out, I'm happy."

Martz abandoned the run quickly at times and the Lions let some games spiral out of control on the road. The Lions hope a stronger commitment to the running game will help them manage games and control the clock.

Martz also put a lot of pressure on the offensive line, and the Lions gave up a lot of sacks. Colletto said the line was better than it looked and would be put in a better position to succeed. The Lions plan shorter drops and quicker releases by the quarterback.

"Let me put it this way: Whatever puts the line in jeopardy, I don't like," Colletto said. "That's the nice thing about being in this position. We're going to make it as easy for them as we possibly can and be functional as a football team."

Martz did not allow the quarterback to call audibles. All adjustments were built into the plays. But Colletto plans to let the quarterback call audibles and control the running game.

In short, the Lions are taking the emphasis off the coach and putting it on the players.

"You've got to get your good players to make big plays, and sometimes you can't coach them to do that," Colletto said. "Sometimes they do it on their own. But they have to be able to execute the game, and the game has never changed since it started back whenever Princeton played Rutgers."

Kippy Brown, the new assistant head coach/passing game coordinator, said: "I believe football players make football plays. I'd love to be smart enough to draw up the perfect play for every situation, but that doesn't happen. Eventually somebody's got to whip somebody."

NOTES, QUOTES

  • The Lions have decided to part with defensive tackle Shaun Rogers via trade or release, according to a report on ESPN2's "First Take." The Lions will try to trade Rogers, but despite his considerable talent, his trade value might not be high. He has already served a four-game suspension for taking a banned dietary supplement, and if he tests positive again, he will serve an eight-game suspension. He has three years left on his contract. He has been beaten up and underachieved. Lions spokesman Bill Keenist responded to the report by reiterating what coach Rod Marinelli said Jan. 17 - that Marinelli expects all players under contract to return.
  • For the first time since the 2006 off-season, Jon Kitna is not entrenched as the Lions' starting quarterback. Asked if Kitna was his starter, Colletto said: "At this point he's just part of the squad. He's a valuable player on the team, like all the other players are, and we're going to go into the (off-season practices) and training camp and let it all sort itself out." Colletto said he spoke to Kitna at length and Kitna was "real excited about coming back and doing this." Coach Rod Marinelli always has supported Kitna strongly, and he said Kitna brought command and he could see Kitna taking off in the new system. But all he would say was that Kitna was the starter coming out of the season.
  • Marinelli said the Lions hoped to have running back Kevin Jones back for training camp. Jones had surgery to repair a torn ACL. Marinelli said the Lions were looking for a running back and would like to re-sign T.J. Duckett.
  • Marinelli said all of his assistants were given one-year extensions. They are signed through 2009, when his contract expires. The Lions hired Scott Loeffler as their quarterbacks coach and Jimmy Lake as their secondary coach. Loeffler comes from the University of Michigan, Lake from Tampa Bay. Adam Gase was demoted from quarterbacks coach to offensive assistant, Clayton Lopez from defensive backs coach to assistant defensive backs coach.

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