Game number 8 in week number 9 of the 2008 NFL season and the Lions FINALLY are playing like I thought they would at the beginning of the season. Namely, close games. It was this hard fought close game type play that I was expecting for the entire season that had me predicting 7-9 in preseason. Of course, back then, I totally misunderstood just how totally inept the coaching staff truly was.
I expected a certain amount of ineptness from Colletto… and I haven't been let down there at all… but I did expect the defense to improve. Alas, it remains the 32nd defense and that remains the problem. On the positive side, there is only 8 more games to go (I hope that remains a positive side… you'll see why I say that further below).
Other positives I saw included the play of Kevin Smith, the willingness of Orlovsky to try downfield, and at times, some great individual effort by most of the players.
Of course, all that was negated by the coaching staff playing Rudi Johnson over Kevin Smith for at least half the game; Orlovsky's untimely interceptions and missed plays (actually, to be expected from a 4th game starter imho); and horrid individual mistakes by many of the players. I won't go into great detail about the poor officiating and the terrible field they played on. Nor will I pick on Raiola for bobbing his head like one of those bobble-head toys just prior to every snap throughout most of this game after not doing so for the previous game.
Still, if you're coached poorly you play poorly. That's always been a factor in sports.
I think it's safe to say that Colletto will never be an OC in the NFL again after this stint. That Marinelli won't be a head coach again in the NFL. That his son-in-law will be lucky to work in the NFL at all. And that the roster is in dire need of fresh talent and much better coaching.
That brings me to the front office. Who reportedly have signed Dante Culpepper to a two year contract. This only a few days after "accidentally" saying that the coaches don't want to put in Stanton less he embarrass himself. Stanton was either a Martz pick or a Millen pick (or both) and either Colletto or Mayhew doesn't want him (or both) as they distance themselves further from the previous staff. That's my take anyway. I'm starting to get the feeling that Mr Ford Sr is going to keep the Lewand/Mayhew front office for one year (and they will keep the current coaching staff for one more year) just to see if they can finish what they started. Of course, the rest of us are still waiting for them to actually start… but that doesn't appear to worry the Lions organization. If this were to happen I may have to take happy meds before every game next year just to watch them play (as I fear many already are for this season).
The Lions are getting closer though they still have many things to clean up. They are finally competing somewhat. But this is mid-season of year 3 with Marinelli, not year 1, and you just can't blame it all on Millen. Not even the talent on the roster. The entire front office helped Millen get to this point. That needs to be remembered as the season winds down to its sad ugly finish.