Greg Eno

Archive for the ‘Rod Marinelli’ Category

Marinelli Should Be Run Out Of Town If Kitna Plays Against Bills

In Jon Kitna, Lions, Rod Marinelli on August 27, 2008 at 3:07 pm

The Lions have one more exhibition game — against the Bills in Buffalo tomorrow night. If starting quarterback Jon Kitna plays one down, then head coach Rod Marinelli ought to be fired.

Actually, firing him would be too good for him. The coach should be tortured — forced to watch a Facts of Life marathon, or some other heinous thing. Then we should consider some concrete shoes and a dunk in the Detroit River.

The Lions might not be all that in 2008, but they will finish somewhere south of the equator if Kitna goes down for any length of time. He’s no Joe Montana or Johnny Unitas, but he’s the best the Lions have, easily, behind center. And his three cameos in the pre-season, against other teams’ starters, suggest that he’s more than ready to go when the curtain rises for real, September 7 in Atlanta.

So why tempt fate and play Kitna against the Bills? What good can come from such an appearance? But plenty can go wrong.

Let me take you back to 1979. The Lions were coming off a 1978 season where they finished strong, winning six of their last nine games. Leading the charge was former World Football League QB Gary Danielson, from Dearborn Divine Child and Purdue University. Danielson peaked against the Vikings on the final Saturday of the season, throwing and running the Lions to a 45-14 win. Some so-called experts predicted some big things for the Lions in ’79.

Then came the final exhibition game, in Baltimore.

Danielson, needlessly appearing in the game, scrambled out of trouble. Only, he didn’t quite make it. He went down in a heap after being caught, and mangled his knee. Out for the season — done, after a meaningless play in a meaningless game. Then, suddenly, the Lions’ regular season turned meaningless.

Veteran Joe Reed was elevated to no. 1, but Reed was about as mobile as a telephone pole, and before long he was gone, too, to injury. That left the Lions’ offense in the rookie hands of Jeff Komlo. The team finished 2-14, with Danielson on crutches and Reed recuperating. Danielson returned in 1980, and the Lions finished 9-7. It was no coincidence.

Now let me take you to 2003. Final pre-season game. Running back James Stewart, playing for God knows what reason, goes down with a career ending (ultimately) shoulder injury.

The Lions, as usual, have no capable backup quarterback — no veteran who can step in and run the show. The roster shows Dan Orlovsky, an injured Drew Stanton, and recently signed Drew Henson. The thought of Kitna going down ought to make your skin crawl.

So why there’s even any question whether Kitna should suit up and enter the game in Buffalo tomorrow night, is anyone’s guess. I don’t even want him to trot on the field, only to be called back to the sideline. He may suffer a season-ending toe stub, with the Lions’ luck. Certainly bring Kitna along for the plane ride, and let him help out on the sideline, baseball cap and earphone adorning his bald head. But don’t let him anywhere near a huddle, unless it’s the post-game prayer.

According to the papers, Marinelli hasn’t confirmed yet whether Kitna will play tomorrow, nor how much, if he does. Again, there hasn’t been a no-brainer this obvious since Moses pondered whether to part the Red Sea.

Yes, it’s true that (God forbid) Kitna could go down in the regular season opener. But losing a QB, or any front line player, in a game that counts in the standings is a lot easier to swallow than to lose one in any game played before Labor Day. And yes, Kitna has proven to be durable; he has started all 32 games since he’s been a Lion. He’s barely missed any playing time due to injury (last year’s concussion against the Vikings notwithstanding). Still, only bad things can happen when you play your starting quarterback in the fourth and final pre-season game — the Mother of All Meaningless Games. The only players who the fourth pre-season game means anything to are those fighting for roster spots. With the trio of quarterbacks below him on the depth chart, Jon Kitna hardly has to wage THAT battle. So don’t play him. Not for one down. Don’t even let him put his helmet on.

The head coach is no dumb-dumb. He should get that, shouldn’t he?

Eagles Didn’t Always Soar In The NFL

In Jon Kitna, Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, Rod Marinelli on September 21, 2007 at 2:08 pm

The emotional football coach, never one to be shy to squeeze a few wet ones from his eyes, stood in the locker room to give his pre-game speech. And his voice quaked as he spoke in halting fashion.

“Twelve years,” the coach said, pacing the room, looking at his players. “Twelve years have gone by since the Eagles have come out winners. Well, we’re gonna come out winners today.

“We’ve lost a few we should have won, but guess what? We’ve won a few we should have lost. We’re right where we deserve to be — playing for the first winning record in Philadelphia since 1966.”

Dick Vermeil was perhaps 30 pounds lighter as he delivered that speech in 1978, in full view of the NFL Films cameras. He wore a garish white belt around his checkered polyester trousers, the fashion statement for football coaches back in the day. It was the year of the Miracle in the Meadowlands, when Herman Edwards scooped up a Joe Pisarcik fumble and took it to the house to beat the Giants in the waning moments, when a simple kneel-down would have sealed the deal for New York. That’s probably one of the games Vermeil was referrring to. Likely.

The Eagles won that day, the final game of the ’78 season, and had themselves a 9-7 record. And Vermeil was right. It was the first winning football record in Philadelphia since the days of Joe Kuharich as coach and Norm Snead at quarterback.


Jaworski wasn’t the most talented QB, but his toughness led the Eagles to Super Bowl XV

The Lions haven’t gone 12 years since their last above-.500 record. It only seems that way. In fact, a quick trip to the data files shows that in the previous 11 seasons before this one, the Lions have actually managed to have two such winning campaigns — 1997 and 2000. So the Eagles of 1967-77 were worse in that regard.

It might be hard to imagine now, with a Super Bowl appearance and annual trips to the playoffs in recent years, but the Philadelphia Eagles didn’t always soar. Far from it.

The Lions haven’t won an NFL championship since 1957. But the Eagles aren’t much better. Their last title came in 1960. In fact, the Lions from 1960-75 were a far superior team than the Eagles in that same time frame. But then Philly hired Vermeil from UCLA, and all that changed. The Eagles made Super Bowl XV in 1981. In the quarter century since, the Eagles have fielded competitive teams far more often than they haven’t.

The Eagles ended their misery through the coaching sleight of hand of Vermeil and the tough-as-nails quarterbacking of Ron Jaworski. And with a swarming defense.

Lions QB Jon Kitna earned points last Sunday for his body-sacrificing in the OT win over Minnesota. He returned from a mild concussion to lead the team to victory. It had old curmudgeons like me recalling the days of Bobby Layne, mainly because I would defy you to come up with a similar example from a Lions quarterback between 1958, Layne’s last year in Detroit, and last Sunday. Coach Rod Marinelli loves the word “tough”, and he used it often in describing Kitna’s performance.

“That was special,” the coach said after the game. “That’s toughness right there. He’s tough. This is a tough city and it deserves a tough quarterback. And that’s what this city has — a tough quarterback representing it.”

Those might have been the words of Dick Vermeil in describing Ron Jaworski, circa 1978.

So if you look at the Eagles, this week’s Lions opponent, and think that they’ve been good forever, hold on. It only seems that way.

Rod Marinelli: A Coach Who Can’t Contain Himself

In Jon Kitna, Lions, NFL, Rod Marinelli on May 18, 2007 at 3:47 pm

With the Pistons moving on and the Red Wings in a 2-2 standoff with the Anaheim Ducks, I thought this might be a good time to interrupt your regularly scheduled playoff posts and present to you, as a form of light entertainment fare, those wacky Detroit Lions.

Well, maybe not so wacky, if you listen to coach Rod Marinelli.

“I just have great expectations,” the Rock Pounder mused yesterday to reporters as the team wrapped up their three-day minicamp. The superlatives rolled off his tongue like an opponent pass rusher off a Lions offensive lineman.

“I just believe in this team — a lot… This is going to be a very good team…It’s what I see. I’m out here, I look, I see it, and I believe it….I’ve got great expectations for this team. I like the way they’re working. You’re seeing what I’m seeing. It’s fast and explosive.”

So when do playoff tickets go on sale?

Now, the fruit salad that Marinelli is excreting doesn’t annoy me so much because I get the feeling that if things weren’t going so well, we’d hear about that, too. The coach has never struck me as much of a snake oil salesman, like so many of his predecessors. So it’s nice, I suppose, to hear about the love-in going on in Allen Park. Heck, there was even a photo the other day of defensive tackle Shaun Rogers SMILING — laughing, actually — with Marinelli. And Rogers spoke a bit, too — quite positively, I might add.

A couple months ago I spoke to QB Jon Kitna over the telephone for a brief Q&A for my former gig, and I asked him to complete this sentence: In 2007, I promise the Detroit Lions fans _______.

He didn’t hesitate for long before he filled in the blank.

“In 2007, I promise the Detroit Lions fans that we’ll win at least 10 games,” Kitna said. I reminded him that this was one of those Q&A’s that actually finds its way into print, in front of real, live eyeballs attached to real, live Lions fans.

“That doesn’t scare me one bit,” Kitna said.

Kitna was one of those who Marinelli praised this week. Must be for his positive outlook, if nothing else.