Kitna offers no guarantees

The Lions' quarterback impresses the Packers with his willingness to stay in the pocket.

Jon Kitna isn't guaranteeing a 10-win season again.

That's because the Detroit Lions' quarterback didn't do anything of the sort last season, either.

Kitna, in a conference call with Packers reporters on Wednesday, explained himself for the umpteenth time.

"Last year, the quote — the original — what it came out was, we'd be disappointed not to win 10 games," Kitna said. "All of a sudden, it became a guarantee. That's not at all what I said. Even when things were rolling good and we were sitting at 6-2, and everybody was saying, ‘He was right,' and all of that stuff, I was backing away from it, saying, ‘That's not at all what I said.'"

That fact was lost on many in media, who had fun at Kitna's and the Lions' expense. Detroit went on to finish 7-9 — their best since 2000 but a major disappointment nonetheless.

The Lions got off to a disappointing start to the season by losing at Atlanta — arguably the worst team in the league entering the season — 34-21. Still, Kitna isn't backing off what he really said last year.

"Any team in this league would be disappointed because not to win 10 means, you usually don't make the playoffs," Kitna said. "Again, this year, we'll be disappointed not to win 10 games, because that means we're probably sitting home in January."

While certainly not the best quarterback in the NFL, Kitna is among its toughest. Few quarterbacks are as willing to stand in the pocket and take a shot if it means that extra split-second will get one of his talented receivers open.

He threw for 4,068 yards last season — second-most in his career — on career-high 63.3 percent accuracy. He took a whopping 51 sacks, however.

"He's very courageous," Packers defensive end Aaron Kampman said. "He's not scared, he's not afraid to go head-first and he stays injury-free. He's able to take it, and that says something about him."

Kitna is the polar opposite of last week's starting quarterback, Minnesota's Tarvaris Jackson. Jackson has a scattershot arm and is quick to run. Kitna is efficient and uses his mobility to run only as a last resort.

"I don't know if it's easier (to face a pocket passer)," defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila said. "He's a guy that can make plays. Part of the reason he makes plays is he stays in just a little bit longer and waits for things to develop."

While Kitna gets high marks for courage, he gets low marks for his decisions. His career touchdown-to-interception ratio is just 149 to 147, and his interceptions outnumbered his touchdowns in his previous two seasons in Detroit. In 2007, he threw 18 touchdowns and 20 interceptions, and in 2006, it was 21 touchdowns and 22 interceptions.

Still, he has the respect of coach Rod Marinelli and his teammates.

"He's a special human being," Marinelli said. "One, we know he's a heck of a player. You take all the intangibles to the game of football and to the community, I think it's special."

He has the respect of the Packers, too. Veteran cornerback Al Harris called Kitna a "very underrated quarterback." Coach Mike McCarthy noted the difference between the young quarterback the Packers faced last week and the veteran they'll face this week.

"I think the first thing that jumps out at you when you play a veteran quarterback like Jon that has played so much football is how fast he plays the game," McCarthy said. "Just to take our situation with the young quarterbacks, you are always trying to get them to play faster or see if faster. The speed of the game is always the biggest adjustment for any player coming into the NFL, even more so for the quarterback.

"He has played a lot of football, so this will be different for our defense as far as how fast he plays the game, especially in the passing game."

Bill Huber is editor of Packer Report and E-mail him at

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