Matt Millen Believes in Rod Marinelli (also Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Iraqi WMDs...)
Detroit Lions general manager Matt Millen proclaimed in an interview with great unbiased news source DetroitLions.com that he believed head coach Rod Marinelli is "the right guy" and that "I'm convinced he's the right guy and I'm convinced he's the right guy for the team."
Along with expressing his vote of confidence in Marinelli, Millen went on to emphatically state that he believed Roger Clemens has never taken steroids, that Saddam Hussein headed up a massive production program building weapons of mass destruction, and that the earth does not revolve around the sun but rather sits on a tortoise's back.
Seriously, how could Millen say otherwise about his fourth hire for the position? After all, Marinelli is an impressive 9-23 (.281) over his two seasons with the Lions, just under Millen's record (31-73, or a .298 winning percentage), the indicated threshold for keeping job security with the Lions.
Why wouldn't you have faith in Marinelli, a proven winner, at least against marginal teams. Heck, the Lions went an impressive 6-2 in the first half of 2007 against teams with a cumulative 59-75—that's just over a whopping 44 percent—record. Of course, when the big boys with an average .597 winning percentage faced off against Detroit in the second half, the Kitty Cats were a sorry 1-7; but this of course can be attributed to the mystical nature of the Lions' supposed "culture of losing."
Then again, Millen doesn't believe that such a culture exists in Detroit, and early in the 2007 season, he gleefully informing Howie Long at the halfway point that "the players are starting to believe they are actually good as a team." Whoa, Marinelli really is a magician.
In fact, Lions fans have better get prepped for more of Marinelli's main event next season as well, because the Detroit front office has thus far maneuvered a net gain of approximately minus Shaun Rogers in the offseason thus far. The two biggest headlines the Lions have earned in 2008 involved the fire-sale trade of Rogers and the team's failure to engineer a trade with the New York Jets for MLB Jonathan Vilma. (Good news, though: TE Michael Gaines, a guy rumored to be capable of run blocking, is aboard.)
Lack of activity is no problem, though: Even though the Lions are under the salary cap for the first time since the team began signing first-round wide receivers at federal deficit-level salaries, Millen and the guys have assured the faithful that "The reason they're not pursuing high-dollar free agents is because of a shift in philosophy, not financial restrictions."
Besides, who needs bodies when you can hire more brains? While Sean Payton, Brad Childress and especially Mike McCarthy have been able to make positive gains with their clubs since hired for the 2006 season, Marinelli apparently just hasn't had enough staff.
In a bold, brainy move, out went Mike Martz, an overqualified coordinator who was guilty of helping add an average 725 yards per season to the offense since taking over in 2005, while the defense went from the league's 20th best in surrendered yardage to dead last in 2007. (Ah, so that's why they gave up Rogers, perhaps the team's only Pro Bowl-level player on the 'D'.)
Meanwhile, Lions fans are welcome to appreciate the promotion of Jim Colletto, the leader of last year's offensive line that allowed 54 sacks, to OC and that of former XFL coach Kippy Brown. Jimmy Lake, formerly of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is now secondary coach; in an excellent show of charity, last year's secondary genius, Clayton Lopez, has been demoted to assistant secondary coach. Excellent move there: The one guy you want advising a new coach is he who screwed the unit back down to ground zero over the course of two seasons.
And back aboard is the Barry family, not at all benefactors of a little nepotism: Marinelli's son-in-law Joe Barry will stay to head up the defense (again, that's the league's worst 'D' in both yardage and points allowed), and assistant offensive line (the league's third worst against the sack) coach Mike "Joe's dad" Barry will be able to wince dozens of times on the sidelines again this season.
Now all Lions fans need is that of which Millen has an unlimited supply (no, not BS, silly): faith. You've gotta have faith, because that's what all it seems Millen and the Ford family are willing to leave you with.
And, by the way, if you decide to act clever and catch Millen on the absurdity of his misplaced beliefs, he's got his snappy retort ready: "It's turtles all the way down."
Believing because we have to throughout the year at RealFootball365.com
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