Lions Notebook: No Coaching Changes Coming

Coach Rod Marinelli won't shake up his staff the way he has shaken up his roster during the Lions' awful 0-6 start. Much more inside.

Coach Rod Marinelli won't shake up his staff the way he has shaken up his roster during the Lions' awful 0-6 start.


PASSING OFFENSE: D-plus -- Quarterback Dan Orlovsky finished with 265 passing yards and a 99.6 rating, and wide receiver Calvin Johnson finished with 154 receiving yards. But those numbers are deceiving. Johnson caught a 58-yard Hail Mary on the last play of the first half and a 96-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. The Lions did not throw the ball well when it mattered. How can Johnson have only two catches?

RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- Again, deceiving numbers. Rookie running back Kevin Smith had back-to-back big runs, a 21-yarder and a 26-yard touchdown. But otherwise, he had only 14 yards on eight carries. Veteran Rudi Johnson had only eight yards on six carries.

PASS DEFENSE: F -- Matt Schaub became the latest unheralded quarterback to look like a star against the Lions. He went 26-for-31 for 267 yards and two touchdowns. He posted a passer rating of 124.1. Wide receiver Andre Johnson (11 catches, 141 yards) and tight end Owen Daniels (six catches, 66 yards, two touchdowns) were wide open all day.

RUSH DEFENSE: D-plus -- A strong running game helped the Texans set up the passing game and possess the ball for a franchise record 40:04. Rookie Steve Slaton had 17 carries for 80 yards and a touchdown. Veteran Ahman Green had 14 carries for 62 yards and a TD.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-plus -- Kicker Jason Hanson nailed two 54-yard field goals, punter Nick Harris had a net average of 50.3 yards, and the coverage units didn't allow the Texans' dangerous return men anything. But the Lions continue to get nothing out of their return game, and the poor field position doesn't help their struggling offense.

COACHING: F - The Lions are 0-6, and they have been competitive in only one game. In the other five, they have fallen into deep deficits - 21-0 again in this one - and they climb back into games perhaps only because other teams relax. Something is badly wrong. The Lions lack talent, no doubt, but they shouldn't be this bad.

It wouldn't be difficult to do it on offense. Kippy Brown, the Lions' assistant head coach and passing game coordinator, was Miami's offensive coordinator in 1998-99. He could take over for - or take some responsibility from - offensive coordinator Jim Colletto.

The Lions haven't scored a first-quarter point this season and have fallen into several deep deficits. But asked if he would consider shifting some responsibility to Brown, Marinelli said no and pointed out the offense was a collaborative effort already.

"In terms of a leadership role like that, I don't want to start spreading way too many things out there," Marinelli said. "I like what we're doing. We have to do it better."

Center Dominic Raiola scoffed at the idea, anyway.

"Trust me, it's not coaching," said Raiola, in his eighth season in Detroit. "How many coaches have I been through here? How many offensive line coaches? How many coordinators? It's not coaching. It's people got to just do it. It's easy to say. Talk is cheap. But you've got to put it on tape. When you go in there, you've got to produce."

The Lions don't have an obvious candidate to replace defensive coordinator Joe Barry, whose unit ranks at or near the bottom of the NFL in every major category.


  • The tough part about the Lions' start is finding a common thread for the Lions' problems. On offense, somebody is always screwing up something, and it's always somebody and something different.

    "We're not getting 11 guys doing what they're supposed to do," Marinelli said. "It's nine guys or 10 guys or eight guys, and two or three guys are having a bust or a mental error. That kills the continuity of the play."

    On defense, same thing. This guy isn't in his gap. That guy misses a tackle. "When it's a play here or a play there, that's what the frustrating part is," linebacker Ryan Nece said. "It's tough to understand why it's really happening."

  • The Lions are certain their problem is not effort. They're trying hard. Marinelli worries they're trying too hard.

    "I think they're really pressing," Marinelli said. "I'm missing something for them to get it done. If they're tight, I've got to find a way to loosen them up."

    But what is Marinelli going to do? He has already tried little things like playing music during stretching to pump some energy into practice, and he's no comedian.

    "My personality is that," Marinelli said, holding out a clenched fist and staring at it, "and when it comes out to the end of the day, I can make a joke and it's not a funny joke. That's me. But I just keep staying at it and keep driving the same thing home until I get it, and I haven't been able to get it yet."

  • Marinelli declined to comment on the Fox report that former Packers quarterback Brett Favre helped the Lions prepare for their Sept. 24 game against Green Bay. But defensive coordinator Joe Barry said: "If he helped us, he didn't do a very good job." Favre's replacement, Aaron Rodgers, threw three touchdown passes as the Packers took a 21-0 lead in that game. The Packers had 447 yards of offense in a 34-21 victory.

Player Notebook:

  • QB Dan Orlovsky will get about 80 percent of the snaps again this week, with Drew Stanton getting the rest, according to coach Rod Marinelli.
  • S Dwight Smith went for a CT scan on his injured foot, and Marinelli feared Smith could be lost for a few weeks.
  • DT Chuck Darby warmed up but was inactive Sunday at Houston. Marinelli said Darby was close.
  • CB Travis Fisher also warmed up and was inactive. He said he thought he was moving well but the coaches decided not to use him. Asked if it was just a health issue, he said he hoped so.
  • LG Edwin Mulitalo was inactive for performance reasons, not an injury, Marinelli said. The coaches wanted to give him a week off,

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