Monday, November 28, 2005

Mariucci Is Gone Because He Just Didn't Get it

The Detroit Lions of 1988 were perhaps one of the worst football teams to ever don the Honolulu Blue and Silver. When Darryl Rogers was canned as coach after a 2-9 start, few gave interim coach Wayne Fontes -- the defensive coordinator -- much of a chance to stay beyond the rest of the '89 season, which had five games to play.

Yet not only did Fontes, a defensive guy, get the full-time job, he led the Lions to the NFC Championship game in his third full season -- building an offense, of all things, around a guy named Barry Sanders.

The Lions team that Steve Mariucci inherited in January 2003 was nothing to write home about, for sure, but in his third full season, Mariucci hasn't come close to improving the team in any fashion that would warrant excitement.

So Mooch is out, and is being replaced by.....a defensive guy. With five games left in the season. The similarity to Fontes' situation is eery.

Nobody knows for sure if Dick Jauron, the interim coach, will last beyond the final five games of the 2005 season. Nobody knows if he can, in those five games, make enough of an impression on his bosses to even be considered a candidate for the full-time gig. In fact, we don't even know if Dick Jauron WANTS to coach this team full-time. The Lions job hasn't exactly been valhalla for football coaches.

Steve Mariucci is unemployed today because he was unable to convince his players, his boss, or his public that his system, especially his offensive one, was suitable for winning in the NFL. He is no longer coaching the Lions because, I believe, he was incapable of instilling a feeling of accountability among his players. He is no longer our whipping boy because his team gave up on him.

As I've said before, the next coach of the Lions ought to be a hotshot offensive guru who will do whatever he can to make this football team exciting to watch. He ought to be someone who won't call for five yard passes when you need eight yards for a first down. He ought to be someone who will try to stretch a defense now and again. He ought to be someone who is chomping at the bit to be a head coach -- badly enough to even want to coach the Detroit Lions.

Steve Mariucci never quite got it. He never understood that stubbornness and conservatism and an infatuation with a 35 year-old has-been quarterback was not what this franchise needed to be successful. He had no vision, and the team had no personality, on either side of the ball. Now he has no job.

No man who has coached the Detroit Lions under Bill Ford has gone on to be a head coach again in the NFL.

Some job, eh?


Greg said...

Step 2 should be to fire Matt Millen. You just get the feeling that the Lions ineptness trickles down from the top (drafting ANOTHER wide receiver in the 1st round this year?). But it is a shame that with all that talent, the Lions couldn't put it together. Speaking of which, what happened to Kevin Jones? F. Terrible.

Ian C. said...

Mike Martz? Sean Payton? Take a longshot on Charlie Weis?