Cook: Marinelli's Staff Has To Go

Detroit is running out of scapegoats, excuses and time. And according to columnist James Cook, more changes are needed. Does that include head coach Rod Marinelli? James offers his take.

Detroit is running out of scapegoats, excuses and time.

Mike Martz is gone. Matt Millen is done.

More should follow.

Three guys have to go: Defensive coordinator Joe Barry, offensive coordinator Jim Coletto and special teams coach Stan Kwan.

Head coach Rod Marinelli is precarious. He routinely blamed himself for the team's lack of production, but hasn't changed anything.

The third-year coach's clock management is still terrible. His record in challenges is awful. And the team is going backwards in nearly every phase after a 7-9 season last year in which they looked like it was on the verge of turning the corner.

Meanwhile, the scared coaches are desperately clinging to playing average-at-best veterans like George Foster, Paris Lenon and Jared DeVries over young guys like high draft picks Gosder Cherilus, Jordan Dizon, Ikaika Alama-Francis and Cliff Avril when the season is so obviously a total loss.

Barry the hatchet

Only San Francisco has allowed more points, and the 49ers limited Detroit to 13. Fellow winless franchise Cincinnati has given up 182 points to Detroit's 187 -- and the Bengals have played one more game.

According to reports, Brett Favre gave the Lions a detailed scouting report on the Packers' offense, and yet Green Bay still went off for 48 points on Detroit. Reiterating, the Lions were allegedly handed inside info on the Pack's offense, and yet Barry couldn't stop it. Or even slow it down.

Favre: "On third and 1, they always run behind Mark Tauscher."
Barry: "Great. Prepare the prevent defense."
Favre: "I wouldn't do that. They are running the ball and you're going to play a passive pass defense?"
Barry: "And your point is?"

Favre hangs up.

And so should Detroit.

Marinelli put himself in a bad spot by hiring his son-in-law as defensive coordinator. That makes it a little more likely that Marinelli could be gone. If he's unwilling to put his daughter's husband out of work, the new GM better find someone who will.

Offensive, indeed

On the other side of the ball, the Lions appear totally clueless in the first quarter. Detroit hasn't scored a single point in the opening quarter and has trailed by a combined 54-0 after 15 minutes.

Only four teams have scored fewer points than the Lions.

You can only blame so much on the quarterbacks when you're handed a receiver corps as deep as Detroit's and a quality young runner in Kevin Smith. Running the ball on third-and-17 late in the game? I've seen more creative play-calling in Tecmo Bowl.

Kwan-tum leap?

Special teams have been anything but since Kwan took over for retired Chuck Prieffer, who made the Lions one of the best on special teams even when the rest of the team was horrible.

An assistant under Prieffer, Kwan appears overwhelmed and totally outclassed as the main guy. Detroit's coverage units have been OK, but the return game is almost non-existent, frequently putting the offense in bad positions. Detroit started inside its own 10 four times on Sunday, including three straight inside the 5 in the fourth quarter.

General disarray

The Lions' most important decision this year will be who replaces Matt Millen. If it's anyone from inside the organization, get those paper bags ready.

Detroit desperately needs someone who can find quality, productive talent in the draft. The Lions have five picks in the top 100 of next April's draft, which could help lure a quality general manager to the Motor City.

The new GM will be able to put his stamp on the franchise early.

James Cook is an award-winning columnist for the Traverse City Record-Eagle, and a regular contributor to

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