Notebook: Marinelli Defends Kitna

Lions' head coach Rod Marinelli will not make a change at quarterback. Much more inside.

Lions' head coach Rod Marinelli isn't ready to pull the plug on his starting quarterback.

Despite three interceptions in three consecutive series in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 48-25 loss to Green Bay, Marinelli refused to discuss any potential of making the dramatic change behind center.

"I said last week to you guys I'm not going to talk about personnel changes until game day," said Marinelli on Monday, adding that "every player" -- including Jon Kitna -- was on a "short leash."

The Lions most recent setback was perhaps more disheartening because the team had rallied from a 21-point deficit to retake the lead. The home opener turned to heartache, though, when Kitna was picked off by former Michigan standout Charles Woodson. Two more interceptions sealed the disaster.

Kitna also tossed a costly pick against Atlanta last week, but those close to the team said it was a receiver error. The Lions put a premium on the turnover ratio, and with his penchant for turning the ball over, Marinelli was pressed about a potential change from Kitna to backup Dan Orlovsky.

"The entire offseason that's what we've talked about: First rule to winning is don't beat yourself," said Marinelli. "And you have a -2. It's hard to win in this league. You have to fight to get a +1. And we failed in that both games."

Added Marinelli, "It has to be correctable. And it's about concentration, all of us. And it's just not one guy. It can be every player on that offense, so I think that's important; protection, pressures, all those things."

It also seemed that the third-year head coach didn't want to sound the alarm just yet.

"It's poise not panic," said Marinelli. "I just believe in what we're doing. I believe it and my heart's in it and I'm going to work at it. That's just how I do business. I think there's a way you can panic and think I've got to change this and change that and do this and do that. That works for some people, too. Some people that works for; it doesn't work for me.

"I think it's gradual and it's a belief and you just keep doing it. You make subtle changes here and here and here, but the players need consistency. They don't need upheaval every other day - a new face looking at this, a new guy. They need to keep going that way. That's what I'm going to do, that's how I'll do business."

Kitna, who has a history of struggling under pressure, took the blame immediately following the contest for not coming through when his team needed him most.

Between his onfield struggles, and his demeanor at times (including the very public week one shouting match with offensive assistant Shawn Jefferson), many in the media, and with the team, have privately questioned whether or not he is still capable of leading the team.

Marinelli had previously referred to Kitna as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFC. When asked about that statement, Marinelli stood behind the veteran signal caller.

"I do (believe it)," he said. "Yeah, he had a bad game. I feel he's our leader and a very good quarterback. I do."


  • Marinelli was also questioned whether or not rookie first-round pick Gosder Cherilus would replace George Foster at right tackle. Cherilus did well after spelling Foster against Green Bay defensive end Aaron Kampman, leading many to ask why Cherilus hasn't started all along. Said Marinelli, "I think it's a lot of check with me's in the run game and things. We just wanted to make sure as he was working in that we weren't going to have the mental errors, and he's come along pretty well. He was pretty good. But again, we were into just a throwing game now. We just kind of got into a lot of throws, so there's a lot more to it if the game is close and you're running your full offense. But what I really like about him is how he competed." Some have suggested that Detroit didn't want to start a rookie against two of the league's toughest defensive ends (Atlanta's John Abraham and Kampman) in consecutive weeks, especially with an aging Kitna behind center. has learned that Cherilus will likely start his first official NFL game against San Francisco on Sunday, but nothing has been confirmed.
  • Rookie linebacker Jordon Dizon didn't see the field against Green Bay, despite Marinelli's previous assurances that he would replace starting MLB Paris Lenon. However, after the Lions fell behind quickly, Detroit's defense didn't want to take any chances as they attempted to regroup.
  • With the defense under intense scrutiny, the eyes of blame have fallen upon defensive coordinator Joe Barry -- also the son-in-law of Marinelli. When asked whether or not there might be a conflict of interest, especially considering the defensive struggles,  Marinelli responded strongly, "I'm very objective in terms of I know exactly what I want and I've had a chance to work with him for years and he's putting it in exactly the way I want it. So if there's a problem with it, it's me. I don't know if it will ever come to that; it's on me.

    "With Donnie (Henderson), when he was here, it wasn't done exactly the way I wanted it in terms of the system. That was on me. This thing is being put together. I have my hand in it just as much as anybody else. That responsibility lies with me. It's just like when I was in Tampa, it was the same way. There's the handprint of the head coach on this thing. It's my handprint. It's being taught the way I want it, it's being installed the way I want it, and if it's not working, that's on me."

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