Detroit Lions Preview: Thank God Mike Martz Is Gone

Sean Crowe@CroweKnowsSenior Writer IAugust 27, 2008

Before I get into the 2008 Detroit Lions, I need to go on a little rant that’s vaguely Detroit-Lions related.

Mike Martz is not a great offensive coordinator. He’s not an innovative offensive mind. He’s not the offensive Bill Belichick.

He’s not even a good offensive coordinator. He’s a terrible offensive coordinator.

Martz believes that he knows football—offensive football specifically—better than everyone else. His ego-driven talent evaluations and especially ego-driven game planning and play calling are similar to what you or I would put together while running a Madden 2008 franchise.

Only we'd probably run the ball a few times...

In order for Mike Martz’s offensive system to succeed, he needs all of the following:

1)    A quarterback with a tremendous arm, absolutely no conscience, and a ton of durability.

2)    A running back who is equally as good at pass catching and pass blocking and can make something out of the six or seven token running plays thrown his way over the course of a game.

3)    An offensive line with a Hall of Fame left tackle and above-average pass blockers at every other spot.

4)    Two Hall of Fame wide receivers and at least two other viable wide receivers.

If he doesn't have all four of those pieces, he'll fail.


In other words, if you put Mike Martz in control of the 1999 St. Louis Rams, the 2001 St. Louis Rams, the 2004 Indianapolis Colts, or the 2007 New England Patriots, he’s a genius.

Of course, I could run those offenses and look like a genius, but that’s neither here nor there.

Put Mike Martz in charge of an offense that isn’t historically good, maybe just above average, and he’ll fail. Put him in charge of the 2007 Lions’ offense, and he’ll fail miserably.

You want to point fingers at someone for the failings of the 2007 Detroit Lions? You can start by pointing them in the direction of the current San Francisco 49ers’ offensive coordinator.

The 2008 Detroit Lions are going to have their share of problems on the offensive side of the ball as well.

Going with a more conservative game plan is the right move for the Lions, but probably the wrong move for John Kitna.

Kitna is a lot of things, but careful with the football is not one of them. He thrives (to the extent that a John Kitna can thrive) in an offense that allows him to be a gunslinger.

That’s not the direction the Lions are heading, and I fully expect the two to part ways after this season.

The strength of the Lions’ offense will once again be their wide receivers.

Roy Williams is great, and when he’s trying hard, he could be the best wide receiver in the NFL not named Moss or Owens. They just need to convince him to try hard on every play. Calvin Johnson is a good, young talent with the potential to be even better than Williams. 

Behind Williams and Johnson, Mike Furrey is decent. He actually caught 98 passes a few years ago, believe it or not. I guess Shaun McDonald is OK (he led the team in receptions last season), even though it seemed like he was dropping an important pass every time I turned on a Lions game last season.

Running back is going to be a problem.

I’m going to be blunt. Tatum Bell sucks. Kevin Smith is mediocre, though he at least has potential. And the offensive line, while better at run blocking than pass blocking, isn’t good enough to turn either of these guys into a 1,000-yard rusher.

Even in a more conservative offense, the points are going to come almost exclusively out of the passing game. The key will be whether or not Kitna can make more plays for his team than he makes for the opponent.

The defense is...a work-in-progress.

I like Ernie Sims, Cory Redding used to be a useful player and could become one again, Leigh Bodden is pretty good at times, and Dwight Smith is a decent strong safety.

But outside of that, I hate their defense.

Brian Kelly is washed up.

Daniel Bullocks is coming off an injury, and if he can't recover, Gerald Alexander will get to be on the field again.

Jared DeVries, Chuck Darby, Paris Lenon, and Jordan Dizon would make a great group of backups. Not so sure you want any of these guys, never mind all of these guys, starting for your defense.

Needless to say, I’m not big on the 2008 Detroit Lions.

Fantasy Sleeper

Kevin Smith

If only because starting running backs are at a premium in fantasy football, and the other running back on the Lions is Tatum Bell.

And as we all know, Tatum Bell sucks.

Fighting for draft picks, fighting for the playoffs, or contending for the Super Bowl?

The Lions are fighting for draft picks. Unfortunately, if they win, Matt Millen will be the one making the picks.


The Lions were 1-7 down the stretch last season. While they’re not that bad, they’re certainly not as good as their 6-2 start. But, in the end, water finds its level.

7-9 is about right for this Lions team.

Sean Crowe is a Senior Writer and an NFL Community Leader at Bleacher Report. You can email him at His archive can be found here. You can find everything he writes, including articles for other publications, here.


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