Lions Notebook: From Bad To Worse

The news just keeps getting better for the Detroit Lions. Now they have to go to Minnesota, where they haven't won since 1997, as they recover from their latest shellacking.

The news just keeps getting better for the Detroit Lions. Now they have to go to Minnesota, where they haven't won since 1997, as they recover from their latest shellacking.

The Lions are 0-4. They have fallen in a huge hole in each game -- 21-0 at Atlanta, 21-0 against Green Bay, 21-3 at San Francisco and 31-0 against Chicago. They have lost by an average margin of 20.25 points.

President Matt Millen has been fired. But that doesn't do much for the team right now and only directs the heat onto coach Rod Marinelli, quarterback Jon Kitna and the rest of the staff and players.

Marinelli, whose record with the Lions has sunk to 10-26, continues to take responsibility for the state of the team. But if it's his fault, then why should he keep his job?

"I get up tomorrow and work," Marinelli responded. "That's me. I get up and go. I'm going to watch this tape and evaluate it. I don't look at anything further down the road."

Chief operating officer Tom Lewand attended the news conference after Sunday's 34-7 loss to the Bears. Does he believe Marinelli is the right man for the job and will turn around the franchise?

"I have tremendous, tremendous respect for Rod Marinelli," Lewand said. "Rod Marinelli is one of the best people, one of the best coaches I've been around, and you hear his message. You guys have heard it very consistently and very clearly over the time he's been here, and he's going to continue to do things right.

"The fact that the product hasn't been what any of us want it to be on the field..."

A reporter told Lewand he was not answering the question. Can Marinelli win with better talent?

"That's very speculative, guys," Lewand said. "All we can deal with is in the here and now, and that's all I'm going to deal with."

Lewand said he has respect for Marinelli. But does he have confidence in him?

"Yes," Lewand said.

So Marinelli won't be fired imminently?

"I think what Rod said is exactly right," Lewand said. "We all get up tomorrow morning and we go to work."

Marinelli said again that he will not change his offensive or defensive coordinators.

"My handprint's all over that, just like I said to you last time," Marinelli said. "It's on me to get it right, and it's being taught exactly how I want it. Now, are we executing it? No. We're not executing it. Part of execution is coaches and players both. That's how it is. The last thing these guys need is just more change and more change and more panic and more change. I'm not going to do that."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The type of people we have, I wouldn't sense that, that they're going to quit. I would sense that they're going to keep fighting." -- Coach Rod Marinelli, on if the players have given up on him or will with 12 games to go.

LINEUP WATCH: Quarterback Jon Kitna was replaced by backup Dan Orlovsky to start the second half Sunday, but Marinelli said that was only because Kitna had back spasms -- not because he went 8-for-16 for 74 yards and was sacked three times. Orlovsky suffered a high ankle sprain. No. 3 Drew Stanton just returned from a sprained thumb.

Rookie Kevin Smith started at running back despite reports veteran Rudi Johnson would. Smith was quoted last week saying he had been told he was no longer the starter, and other players also said a change had been made. But after the game, Smith denied he had said that. Johnson said no one had told him anything and he never thought he was starting.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

  • QB Jon Kitna left Sunday's game with back spasms. He said the back problem started in the first quarter; he felt a spasm at halftime and he tried to return but could not.
  • QB Dan Orlovsky suffered a high ankle sprain after replacing Jon Kitna but said he felt fine after the game. He entered the game for the Lions' first drive of the second half. It was the first time since he was drafted in the fifth round in 2005 he played before fourth-quarter mop-up time.
  • CB Brian Kelly dressed but did not play Sunday. The Lions benched the struggling veteran in favor of Travis Fisher, even though Fisher had a groin injury during the week.
  • CB Leigh Bodden struggled badly, but he said some of the plays he looked bad on came when the Lions were in a Cover 3 defense.
  • P Nick Harris recorded his first touchback of the season, but still dropped two punts inside the 20.

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