ALLEN PARK -- Rod Marinelli should have seen it coming. Instead, his Monday morning press briefing included some rather taut moments.
For perhaps the first time since taking the reigns of the ball club, Marinelli took multiple shots from members of the Detroit media after Sunday's embarrassing loss to Atlanta. At one point in the conference, a member of Detroit's media relations staff attempted to cut the questionnaire/firing squad short, but Marinelli instead pressed on. It was more evidence of a frustrating opening week for the Lions, which started when quarterback Jon Kitna erupted in a face-to-face screaming match with the offensive coaching staff in the second quarter.
And the frustration was still apparent in Marinelli's staunch defense of his ball club.
When asked whether or not he was unhappy with the coaching staff, in particular the defensive side of the ball (patrolled by son-in-law/coodinator Joe Barry) because of the team's struggles in the last "eight regular season games" dating back to 2007, Marinelli tossed the question back to the reporter.
"You said all eight games were played poorly on defense? Then you're wrong; you would be wrong. (We) played well against Kansas City, played very well against Dallas, played very well against the Giants," he said.
Although he went on to answer the question, saying he held "every defensive coach, coordinator" and himself accountable, Marinelli was clearly not amused. Detroit lost seven of its last eight games in 2007 en route to a 7-9 mark, but that fallout was primarily due to an offensive meltdown that left Detroit's defense on the field for an inordinate amount of time in each contest.
The biggest question mark surrounding Sunday's game was the defense, which gave up over 300 rushing yards and much of it was self-inflicted. The missed tackles and assignments, including what Marinelli deemed bad "angles" taken by his defenders, was porous throughout the game.
Marinelli, however, said it was "correctable."
"I thought we were a little bit high, like I said, I thought we were a little bit tentative," said Marinelli. "We've just got to get our pads down and come off the ball a little bit better. I thought we were in our gaps, but I thought we had a chance to really go if we could've stopped the run. I've been saying that from day one. I thought we pass-rushed pretty well, but we've got to stop the run first.
"In terms of some of the tackling, missed tackles we had, some of the angles. I thought we played a little bit high overall. A little bit tentative and it affected our alignments a little bit. But all those things are correctable. I talked to the team today, it's all correctable.
"(They're the) same guys I liked Saturday night before the game, and guys I want to coach and feel good about. So, we've just got to learn from it as we're watching the tape right now, and then once this is over, we move on and get ready for our next game."
Atlanta's 318 rushing yards was a team record, while running back Michael Turner's 220-yard turnout set a Falcons' individual best. The contest was unexpected because Atlanta walked in with low expectations, featuring a rookie quarterback and brand new coaching staff. Detroit, meanwhile, is supposedly in the final stages of a rebuilding. It seemed evident from the first moments of the contest until the last that that was not necessarily the case.
The media's pursuit of Marinelli, fed by his apparent refusal to "name names" or criticize certain players (or even the team in general) was relentless. When asked how Detroit was going to practice tackling, which may or may not have been contemptuous, Marinelli responded: "Are you there at practice? So you tell me. We go into a circuit, right? Twice a week."
That was followed by this exchange:
Reporter: Do you dispense blame like you would praises players? "Now, whose kudos did I give to when we did something well? Name them."
Reporter (now being sarcastic): Do you believe in the kudos-blame system? "I don't understand what you're saying there, come on."
Reporter: Do you give kudos? "To who, to you or to them?"
Reporter: Do you tell the media what you tell the team: "Why would I tell you?"
One of the final questions from the media, who attempted to lighten the mood as the session dwindled to a close, took satirical aim at Marinelli's "Pound the Rock" motto. The question? Whether or not he wants to pound his head against that proverbial "rock" when he gets frustrated.
Marinell bit back with his final comment.
"No, I don't because that's not how I'm built," he responded. "I see a lot of people that are built like that; I do. And I feel sorry for them. But I'm going to look at a problem, I'm going to get up every morning with great enthusiasm and great energy and attack the problem because I believe I have the right people in place that are going to get it done. I feel good about it, and perception is what it is, and I know what reality is, so I line up and get going."