2006 Detroit Lions Preview

I don’t know how else to say it, except that the Detroit Lions are the blueprint on how not to build a winning franchise. The Lions have been perennially poor and I don’t think the hiring of new head coach, Rod Marinelli, who is known for his drill sergeant ways, is going to help at all.

As a matter of fact, I’m going on record right now to say that, if the Lions win six games this season, Marinelli should immediately be enshrined in Canton.

When former first round draft pick, Joey Harrington, finally had enough of getting his brains bashed in on a regular basis and took his underachieving act to Miami, the Lions went out a picked up veteran, Jon Kitna and another career underachiever in Josh McCown. However, both of these players have shown themselves to be exactly what they are – career backups, although I must admit that Kitna can win with a really good surrounding cast – which the Lions by the way, do not have. New offensive coordinator, Mike Martz, the Lions’ next head coach, should have a field day picking a starter out of these two. Whoopee.

Running Backs
Martz is already on record as saying that running back Kevin Jones is full of potential, and as a guy who watched Jones all throughout high school in our native Philadelphia, I unequivocally agree. Jones could easily be a 1,000-yard rusher in this league, talent-wise, now though, he has to perform more consistently on the field. Shawn Bryson, the team’s third-string running back last season, is apparently going to start at fullback alongside of Jones.

Wide Receiver/Tight End
Let me get this right. The Lions drafted a wide receiver with their first round pick three consecutive years (dummies) and still don’t know if two of them can play – and are about to possibly cut one (Charles Rogers). Amazing! Roy Williams is certainly the real deal but the jury is still out on Mike Williams. Detroit did sign veteran speedster, Corey Bradford in free agency and also have an accomplished tight end in Marcus Pollard. If these guys can’t succeed under the pass happy Martz, the Lions will have big problems on their hands.

Offensive Line
Former New England Patriots Pro Bowl guard, Damien Woody, is easily the best member of this unit, which also features, veteran center Dominic Raiola and left tackle Jeff Backus, who is nearing Pro Bowl status himself. Nondescript veteran, Rick DeMulling, will start at the other guard, with Kelly Butler manning the other tackle position.

Defensive Line
The Lions’ defensive line could be a problem this season. Two-time Pro Bowl tackle Shaun Rogers, is back, but will face increased pressure because of the loss of the run stuffing, Dan Wilkinson. Second-year tackle, Shaun Cody will now start in “big Daddy’s” place along with ends, James Hall and Cory Redding. Whether the rest of this group, besides Rogers, is ready for prime time, remains to be seen; However, I expect this group to suffer some growing pains in 2006.

The Lions may actually have a strength here. Detroit made a wise move by selecting the playmaking Ernie Sims out of Florida State with the ninth overall pick this year and will give him every opportunity to make impact plays in the Lions’ new defensive scheme. Boss Bailey will play the strong side with the underrated Teddy Lehman playing the middle.

Defensive Backs
You know, the Lions secondary isn’t that bad either. Detroit will start two experienced veterans at cornerback in Fernando Bryant and DrÃ?© Bly. Detroit also selected safety Daniel Bullocks in the second round, and will start him alongside of veteran, Kenoy Kennedy.

Special Teams
Kicker Jason Hanson has 10 game-winning field goals in his career and may be the most dependable player on the entire Lions roster. Punter, Nick Harris, who certainly gets plenty of opportunities with the Lions, had an extremely productive season and is only going to get better as he enters his prime. Veteran, Eddie Drummond, will handle both, punt and kickoff return duties, although Detroit needs to begin grooming at least another one or two players for these roles.

I genuinely hope that Marinelli, who was the defensive line coach for 10 years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, succeeds. Marinelli brought in a strong staff, headed by Martz, to help straighten out Detroit’s mess, but will certainly have his work cut out for him. If Marinelli fails, which, unfortunately, I suspect he will, Martz should be in line for the next head-coaching opening, if he doesn’t land another position by that time. Marinelli’s tough military style has already made some of Detroit’s crybabies pout, so I’m figuring it’s only a matter a time before there’s an all-out revolt, which will probably come right around the time of their second or third blowout loss.

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