(ALLEN PARK)--Talk is cheap. But if you believe what is coming out of the Lions locker room, the Lion players have no thought of quitting on the season despite that they are doomed to another losing season and have been eliminated from the playoff chase.
Veteran safety Corey Harris says it's important for the team and for the younger players not to give up with four games left in the 2002 campaign.
"You have to start somewhere. When I was at Baltimore, we won six out of the last seven games and went on to a good stretch. New England did the same thing the previous year before their Super Bowl. It's a matter of realizing that you're building a franchise and understanding that you have to start. We've haven't had a road win in Marty's [Mornhinweg] two years here. There are still some things that we can do that will show the people within this organization that we're headed in the right direction. The first thing in my mind is getting a road win."
Despite Harris' assurances, this is a dangerous time for the Lions.
Jobs are on the line, including those of President and GM Matt Millen and head coach Marty Mornhinweg. Both desperately need the players attention as they play out the string. Mornhinweg has yet to get a road victory in two years at the helm of the team. This might be his best chance. Last week, Arizona was flat out destroyed by the Kansas City Chiefs 49-0. Since that time, the Cardinals have been getting torched in their local media as quitters.
Enter Marty Mornhinweg. He has to show ownership that he hasn't lost control of the team. One thing the Lions have always done under Marty is play hard, even in the midst of last year's 2-14 debacle, Detroit played tough all the way to the last game. If Detroit all of a sudden "mails it in" against a terrible Arizona Cardinals team, he could be in trouble.
Mornhinweg needs to post a five-win season to show ownership that the team is making real progress. Looking down the road, Mornhinweg also needs to make sure the younger players don't form bad habits--like 'mailing in' an effort when you're out of the playoff hunt.
Harris talked about the tendency for a player's mind to think about vacation once the playoffs are no longer a possibility.
"That's a natural thing. Our young guys are looking to see what [the veteran] guys are going to do. [To] see what kind of talk, see what kind of body action, see what's going on. Hopefully, if they're looking at me, we won't have that kind of problem."
Bill Schroeder agreed. "It's all pride. Our job is still to win games. Our job is to go out there and catch the pass and score touchdowns. This is the time of the season where people say; 'Well are they going to fold up and quit or are they going to come out there and try to do the best they can and start next year's season right now?'"
Cory Schlesinger said Detroit needs to focus on playing a complete football game. "That's the team's focus. Just going out there and playing a four-quarter game without any mental mistakes and get some points on the board and we'll be alright."