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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Game 7 Analysis

Perfection. The Lions coaches demand perfect execution during practice. They are striving to get the players to carry those "habits" over into the game. They thoroughly believe that if the players execute perfectly every snap the Lions will win.

Reality. Nobody is perfect. It is not possible to execute perfectly under the best of circumstances all of the time. Making allowances for that and overcoming imperfection by various means begets great coaching (and thus schemes as well).

The Lions are now 0-7. That is reality. Another is that the players are, from simple observation, not going to execute plays perfectly. Not consistently. Maybe not even more then half the time. That last part being a fluid percentage that can change each week or even each quarter of every game. The final reality is that the coaches are not able to overcome this disparity. They do not give in to reality and prepare for imperfection.

Oh, they are trying, albeit imperfectly. They have dummied down the plays. And then went on to dummy them down some more. Believing that getting perfect execution is more important then overcoming reality. The problem is, the coaches have dummied down the game plan so much that they have taken away the ability of guys who are capable of more.

Mike Martz used to challenge even the best player with plays and calls that made players try their hardest. They may fail, but they were allowed to try. He was stubborn that way. But he faced realities and attempted to do what worked at the same time continually challenging the players to make plays. It wasn't close to a perfect system, and despite some success with it, is no more (in Detroit).

Marinelli removes as much risk as humanly possible in an effort to get the most players to execute plays perfectly. In so doing, he is NOT challenging the best players to play better, he is reducing them down to mediocrity by trying to get them AND all the lesser players to execute plays perfectly. He is stubborn that way. The words "the greater the risk the greater the reward" don't exist in the Marinelli game plan. This is all evident from the lack of big play attempts, the lack of willingness to play rookies, the lack of allowing young guys to make mistakes and learn from them without getting benched, even the lack of risky play calling such as no huddle and blitzing (which they are trying to do but even that must be perfect or they don't call it again, regardless of partial success).

Do I blame the coaching for the current standings? Yes, I do. Sure the players need to make the plays, but the coaching is taking away so much from those who could help out the lesser members of the team, that it really isn't going to happen. Like a governor on an engine, the coaches are limiting the entire team by playing down to the lowest player.

Some individual notes then. Raiola rarely (if even at all) bobbed his head just prior to the snap this game. The defense didn't have that tip off to go after Orlovsky and the pass rush was rather weak against the Lions because of it. Unfortunately, both the QB and the OC were playing as if there WAS a heavy pass rush as in the past. They did not adapt to the current reality. The dump offs and the lack of big plays all comes down to the dummy downed play calling and the history of defenders past. So even though Raiola didn't bob his head on nearly every snap this game, he affected the play calling due to prior play… and this situational change was not corrected in game. A side note: This is another factor that drive me nuts… the coaches (and thus the players) can't adjust during the game without hard film analysis after the fact. They are always playing in the past.

The wide receivers still have no faith in Colletto. They are not vocal like Roy was, but the lack of attention and focus is evident in the passes dropped. Have we fans seen this before? When the players lack confidence in the plays they lose focus, and drop catch after catch.

Kevin Smith is a much better running back then Rudi Johnson is, at least, right now in this scheme with these coaches he is. Problem is, he is not perfect. He can not be trusted to execute perfectly. Perhaps his practice habits aren't perfect. I'm not sure why the coaches ignore reality and start Rudi. But they do.

The defense once again looked lost. I guess out of the 26 guys they kept on defense they can't find 11 perfect players. The coaches will continue to try different configurations of starters but you would think that sooner or later the reality would sink in and they would take the stops off and allow the players to play. I'm not going to hold my breath though, for that would be much too radical, way too imperfect.

9 more games. My reality is, just 9 more excruciating games. And then the imperfect coaches who demand perfection at the cost of winning will be gone. I wonder, will the next coaching staff fall into yet another extreme that even I haven't thought up yet? I suppose anything is possible.

Maybe it's just me. I scream at the blog and operating software for not being perfect, knowing full well that no Microsoft product would ever get released if kept until it was.

Then I realize, Bill Gates plays in the imperfect word, he takes chances, he wins more then he loses. Even if things are not perfect. Marinelli and company need to face reality, those that exist after the fact, those that occur during the game, and take a few chances, if they ever want to win.

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