DETROIT LIONS DAILY UPDATE FOR MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2006

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TODAY'S NEWS

  • The Lions met today to review film from yesterday's game against Green Bay at the team's headquarters and training facility in Allen Park. The players will return to the practice field Wednesday to begin preparing for this week's game at St. Louis.
  • The Lions (0-3) will make their first ever trip to the Edwards Jones Dome this week to face the Rams (2-1). Detroit will look to get their first win after a difficult 31-24 loss to Green Bay while St. Louis will be trying to build off a close 16-14 victory at Arizona.

 

  • LIONS VS PACKERS POSTGAME NOTES
  • Lions QB Jon Kitna passed for 342 yards, completing 25-of-40 passes (62.5 pct), and threw for two touchdowns. His 342-yard effort was the first 300-yard effort by a Lions passer since Joey Harrington garnered 346 yards at Tennessee (1/2/05).
  • Kitna threw his first touchdown as a Lion when he completed a 37-yard pass to RB Shawn Bryson in the first quarter to even the score at 7-7. Kitna also completed his longest pass since arriving in Detroit when he hooked up with WR Roy Williams on a 42-yard touchdown connection as the first quarter concluded.
  • Kitna's first quarter statistics were 8-for-10 for 163 yards and 2 touchdowns (1 INT), with a rating of 118.8. 
  • Kitna's 342-yard effort was his first 300-yard passing game since he threw for 303 yards at Oakland (12/1/02) when he was quarterbacking for the Cincinnati Bengals. It was his fifth career 300-yard effort.
  • Through the first three games of the '06 season, Kitna has completed 69-of-107 passes for a completion percentage of 64.5.
  • WR Roy Williams finished the game with single-game career high138 yards on 7 catches (19.7 avg.), along with the 42-yarder from Kitna. It was his fifth career 100-yard receiving game. Williams' 19.7 yards per catch average was the highest of his career in games where he has recorded at least five receptions.
  • TE Dan Campbell, who came into today's with receptions of 23 and 30 yards in the first two games respectively, recorded three receptions (25, 6, and 22) for a career single-game high 53 yards. He averaged 17.7 yards per catch during today's game. Of his five receptions this season, four have been at least 22 yards.
  • Lions RB Kevin Jones registered 125 total yards (81 rushing, 34 receiving). His 81 rushing yards occurred on 17 carries for 4.8 avg. and he scored his first rushing touchdown of the season. Thus far in 2006, he has had at least 5 receptions in each of the first three games, with a career high of 6 occurring last week at Chicago (9/17/06).
  • RB Shawn Bryson's 37-yard reception for a touchdown was his longest touchdown catch of his career.

LIONS HEAD COACH ROD MARINELLI WEEKLY PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement:
"After I had the opportunity to look over the film again this morning in detail with the staff, for one thing - I'm going to go over some areas of improvement we need to obviously look at; but, the first thing is: they played very hard and I was pleased with that. I always let you know the truth and we tackle what I see. The lows were down; there was nothing wrong with our effort and we grade the heck out of effort each and every week. Every play is graded with a hustle grade or a low factor and the lows were down, so that part was very encouraging as I look at it.

"The second thing is: we have to learn how to win a close game, ok? I talked to the team about that this morning and if you look at two of our three losses, it's been very close. The first game was in the defense's hands. We had an opportunity to win the first game with the defense out on the field with the chance to win it. This week, it was the offense who had that opportunity to go out and win that game at the end.

"So, that's all part of winning - building the championship football team is how to close out a game, how to win it, to step up and make the play at the right time. So, that's a key for us.

"Now, three areas - I'll break all three areas down, we'll start off with defense: the one thing - and we'll continue to do well, is we're playing the run very well - very strong, very physical. First and second downs are usually the toughest downs and the money downs is third down, that's when you've got to come home with your checkbook and that goes with the rush and goes with coverage - it's not just one unit, it's the whole thing. We have to rush and cover better and when we blitz, we have to blitz a little more with our hair on fire - we've got to go. We've got to go with the tempo of it, the speed of it and we have to pick the pace of that up and the one-on-one rushes - we've got to pick up. Man and zone coverage, you know, a lot of leverage in our man coverage and zones, just breaking on the football and we had too many missed tackles again - that's something we have to keep working on. When you're playing zone defense - like we want to play it - tackling is always an issue in zone defense and it's something you have to constantly stress. So, those areas (in terms of defense) are where we have to get better at.

"The special teams area - what was disappointing to me was our drive starts for offense. We had drive starts at the minus 12, minus 16, minus 2 - so, we've got to clean a couple on penalties and decision making. We gave our offense too long of a field and then with the opportunity to lengthen the field for the defense we didn't do a good job. We had a chance to put the ball inside-the-20 three times and we got to get those things done and it starts with me - it comes back to the coaching staff. So, that area we've got to be able to improve on and are they correctable? Exactly - they're all correctable, all the things on (defense) - all correctable, all teachable, you go back out and work again and again on it each week.

"Offensively, there are some really encouraging things, there are some encouraging things. But it's still about winning first of all; it's about winning the game when you're supposed to. When you have the ball in your hands, you've got to go down and win it - never accept anything other than that. The thing that was encouraging is how we moved the football. Some of the young guys stepped up on that offensive line and did a nice job - not good enough but did improve. (It was) the first start for Jonathan (Scott), it was solid - not great, but solid. I thought the passing game was good and in the running game we did some good things. I thought (Roy Williams) and (Kevin Jones) both played extremely hard and played very well. We left some opportunities out there though; we left three or four opportunities on the field that we could have converted on.

"So, as you look at it as a whole team, if we can create field position better with our teams and convert on those areas and get off on third down better and make dramatic improvement in those areas week-in and week-out and it seems like it's a broken record, 'well he said that last week' - yeah, that's all part of it. When you're building stuff and working at it, it's everyday in the system, it's the ability to pound away at it, to understand zone concepts, eyes - where we're looking at - the details of our eyes and all of those things. So, that's where we're kind of at right now.

"The injuries after this game, it's: (Ross) Verba, again his (hamstring) is week-to-week; Kenoy Kennedy his (foot) is week-to-week; (Barry) Stokes - (hamstring), is day-to-day; Rex Tucker (knee) is week-to-week and (Shaun) Bodiford is day-to-day, so as we watch him."

On talking about rush and coverage and how much it has to do with the fact that teams are keeping so many guys in to protect and if it's because they like the match-up in the secondary: "No, it's the match-up of the rush. They're keeping guys in and like Shaun - they did a great job, I give them credit. They put the tight end on him and one was there to take away his inside move and the guard is there to take away the outside move and they would slide the other tackle; but, we were able to get some match-ups with our ends - you got win those, you know, but the coverage, there was time where the coverage has just to hold it longer and your man coverage to buy time for the rush. So, it's not like: 'oh, it's him.' It works together as a team defensive concept that everybody has to understand that and the pressure is on everybody - all 11, not this and this - every guy has to do his job in coverage and rush."

On where coverage is breaking down the most and how QB Brett Favre worked the middle of the field quite a bit: "Well I don't know if it's the middle of the field. Some of those things he popped in there - those are when you got to really send a message as a tackler, you start really believing what you're seeing and you really start breaking on the ball with authority and now those things become turn-around tackles, ok? They were falling forward and now all of a sudden you're at third-and-5 and they gain it by a yard or two, you know what I'm saying? You've got to turn those things around and you've got to be punishing and physical, in terms of how you're breaking on the ball. Man coverage, we're losing our leverage at times, ok? We should be leveraging it correctly. The one early in the game, that was man coverage, ok? It broke down, but it's just leverage, its rush, it's just doing things exactly right every time."

On if the lack of strong defensive performance in the past two weeks can be aimed at the defensive line: "No - I just answered (that) question to a 'tee' - it's the rush to cover and when you're rushing for it in a zone defense, breaking on a ball - those things. If its man, hopefully you're buying some time for your front, now it's leverage when we blitzed, I think we're not coming fast enough and hard enough at this time. So, those are all areas that we just sat down with these men, showing them areas that are all correctable - we just got to get it done, get it done right each and every week and it's about improving each and every week."

On how the hustle is satisfactory to him (Marinelli): "Sometimes there's doubt in their mind where they're going, you know what I'm saying? Is it that some were on play action passes? So they start slowing down, thinking at times it's a run over here and they're stomping, shuffling down and that's not effort. They're hitting it with a lack of confidence (I should say) or a lack or speed or a lack of trust as they're coming."

On if it seems like the secondary is playing afraid to make mistakes as opposed to just leading in their keys and just going with it: "It's more what you're saying there. It's about believing in it - that's all. When you believe what you're seeing, you trust your leverage, you trust your rush, the rush trusts the coverage and then it all starts coming together - you just keep doing it, you keep doing it and you keep hammering it. But, the first and second downs are putting us in position to really convert; we just got to be able to convert better."

On how he plans to change the players comfort level with what they're doing: "We just keep doing this stuff. You just show them on tape today - not like some magic polish, you just come in and do it - it doesn't work that way. It's just coming back into it. We go and look at it on tape - here's what's happening here on tape, is this correctable? Yes, it is - now you go back to the field and you grade it and you just keep doing it and you have more play action maybe against some of your blitzes, so you're not slowing down and just create more fury with it."

On if they've (the defense) regressed from the first game against Seattle in the respect of not attacking: "Yeah, just because of yardage - yes, it is. The yardage and the points are different, so if you look at that as gauge - yes, it is."

On if they're (the defense) more waiting and reading instead of attacking: "I think so. Believe in your keys and go. We just got to get back and teach it."

On if WR Eddie Drummond should have let the ball go that he fielded on the 3-yard line and does he (Marinelli) feel that his opportunity at the wide receiver position has taken away from his return game: "He should have let that go. We would have had the ball at the 20. I think he only had seven snaps as a receiver in the game, so I wouldn't have thought that would have affected him that much in terms of his ability to be a good returner. Maybe, but he's got to do them both, because we like him - we like him at both areas."

On how P Nick Harris not being as consistent downing punts inside-the-20: "He's just not getting it in there. Last year he did a great job, that's why (I was) very excited about him coming into this thing. Lets him swat him in there, I believe he will get that corrected and get that done for us - that's a key part of our game. If you play good defense, we've got to go back and play great defense and create long fields (three-and-out) and create shorter fields for our offense and that's good football and that's something we've got to get on and get done."

On why RB Kevin Jones got in some good playing time and then didn't get much time in the second half: "Well, I like what he did running the ball and I thought that part was very good. But, we were throwing ball so well and we were making some big plays in that area and you've got to go with what you're hot with and we were down a little bit at that time and it gives you a chance to really exploit that defense."

On his relationship with Mike Martz and how much he interjects in calling the plays: "He'll always check with me as we're going. We know before hand going into a game exactly what we do, where we feel our strengths and our match-ups are and then he'll check what are you're thinking is. It's like that third-and-1; it's a great call, just great call back to the tight end across the field and those things - I knew exactly. But, he's got great experience, great feel - it's really at that point, what's the defense giving us? What can we do? He's great in those areas about taking advantage of a defense."

On if the three offensive linemen that are week-to-week (Verba, Tucker, Stokes) will most likely be out this weekend against St. Louis: "I think two for sure. We're going to look at that tonight and we might have to try to find room to get one more guy in here."

On how he stayed positively focused in the game during the slow start: "Because I believe in what we're doing so strong, it's easy to sell and I don't even have fun selling it. It's just who I am, it's what we're doing. They can see the corrections on film because when you have systems you can say look at that, ok, that's where we have to be, that's where we have to play that gap, that's where were in this zone - all those things. I think the question is good, but it's a sign of softness on my part if I think anything like that, I think it's about believing in what you're doing - which I believe 1,000 percent and the staff believes and I believe in the players. So, of course I'm going to be excited about it, get ready to go. I just believe we're going to every week. We're just going to keep coming back and get better and better at what we do."

On which two linemen are out for sure: "(T Barry) Stokes is day-to-day, (T Rex Tucker) is week-to-week and (G Ross) Verba (is) week-to-week; so Stokes has got the best chance right now on this report, being day-to-day."

On what role the captains should play in this situation: "That's a great question. I think there's two things: one - play good in terms of not so much making big plays and all those things, (but) play within the system; play hard every down; play consistent. That's one first form of great leadership. That's leadership right there. Then, two - when things aren't going exactly the way you want, that's when I want to see (the captains) in front. That's when men step forward. See, cowards step back. I want men to step forward and that's all part of this whole thing. When things are going tough, they step up, and they've done that. I'll ask them to come up to the front, break this team off, and, boy, all five have been really good.

"The consistency each has to do - that's where the pressure on them is tough because they have to go out each and every day and perform with a high level and the consistency. They don't have to play great; but the consistency they've got to show because their teammates are looking at them. I've tried to really put them in the forefront, so I feel very good about them. Their play has to be more consistent and they know that. Then the next phase is leadership and leading in front, not behind. When things are going to go great, I'm going to ask them to lead from the back, but right now they have to lead from the front."

On how important it is to win the "money downs" and why the Lions are coming up short: "I'm going to answer the first part - (winning on third down is) everything. Over and over and over; that's what I talk about: that key rush on certain downs where you've got to win it. You go back to our first game; we had all those great rushes and then in that two-minute drive we needed one. Then we move the ball very well here in this last game and we needed one.

"So it's about - first of all, don't let anybody off the hook. As you're sitting in a meeting, 'You're accountable for this.' You have to show them exactly. That's what being a paid professional is about. I expect you to make this play, but when I do say that, we've got to make sure we're coaching; that (position) coach is coaching that (technique) really well, too. So it's the coach and the player, it's just not the player; is the technique what we want, is the get-off what we want, is the coverage what we want. So it's all of us. I try to make myself and every coach and player accountable for every action as they see it. Then you just keep putting the pressure on it, showing the men how to win in those situations and the value of winning at that moment will lead to a win. You have to say that is winning; that becomes a winning performance.

"We've had some good performances, but if it doesn't lead to the win - those are easy sometimes to do - making a play when it really doesn't count. It's making the plays when it counts. So you just have to keep going over it and the fundamentals. The biggest thing: this is what I want and it's everyday and I know it's going to happen. I know it's going to happen. And I'm going to tell them it's going to happen and I'm going to line up and do it again and get our pads on next week, go to work, (and) get the fundamentals right. The progress is being made in the hustle and the energy and the toughness - getting there, not there; it's making directions but we just have to clean up second and third downs up on defense, take care of opportunities on offense and let's get some field position on defense.

"So it's not like, I have to lay somebody on a couch. I won't go there (like) I'm going to massage his brain or something - I'm not going to do that. I'm going to do it how you develop a football team and a football team is staying with what you believe in. The staff I believe in and I believe in the players. So I put it back on myself like always and now we have to go out and keep coaching it and be positive and see the direction we're going. I want to see the direction. It sounds like, 'Oh, he's (just) saying that' - yeah. But that's who I am. I'm going that way with full speed."

On dividing the season schedule into quarters: "If you look at all 16 (games) it looks like an absolute marathon. So you go four (into) one. Here's the quarter, let's see how we do starting with this first. My goal has always been (to go) 3-1, 3-1, 3-1 - if you can go there. Have visual points at that. So now we're in the first quarter and we're 0-3 - not good. But we've got to go out and saw this last one down and then we'll start a new quarter. I want to go 3-1 again, try to get that back into balance. But the focus is still on the single game, I've just shortened the season down into a quarter."

Whether this is something he 'borrowed once' or whether it's reinforced: "I'll hit it every week. Sometimes I'll show the standings where everybody's at. At the end of the first quarter (we're) here; now all of a sudden, (in) the second quarter, things start shifting. Things shift. Now, if you go in the tank, you'll keep going that way or you'll get positive and you'll keep looking at how to get better. I want the toughness there and the attitude and the effort. I'm going to keep building on this thing and you just keep going on."

On if, considering the start, it's going to be an important way to look at things: "Yeah. Where we're at - we're 0-3 in the first quarter - it's very clear to them. It's not sugarcoating anything - I don't sugarcoat it. Here's where we are; we've got one game to go in this first quarter; we've got to win it. After that, we'll start the second quarter. I just don't sugarcoat anything. I just tell them exactly what they need to do. When you're dealing with men all the time you just tell them what you want; what you need to do; show them how to do it and then drill them and drill them. These are the guys we have, we're going to believe in them and we're going to keep coaching them."

On when he decides he's got to go in a different direction as far as personnel: "It's not that easy to do right now in this part of the year. You just don't get rid of a guy and go find this other guy that's sitting out there who can do it. So a lot of our decisions have been made through all of our training camp and preseason. We've seen something in these men we like and once you get that then I'm just very stubborn about making this guy better and just working with him and see if we can grow. Some guys are going to grow faster; some guys may be short and may take more time. But you just keep working; you just keep working at it in terms of our drill work and fundamentals and film work and not give up on a man.

"Now, if a guy doesn't want to do it, that's always a difference, and I'd hope we got that done in training camp - the guys that don't want to do it and all those things. But most of these men are pushing at it and the best way to get the most out of them is believe in him and teach - and the way you believe in a man is teaching. You keep coaching him and you keep teaching him and you keep working with him. You keep showing him his film so you know you believe in him. Just to give him soft words and 'You're okay' - that doesn't do it. You've just got to keep working with him; working with him and he'll see that they believe in me and that'll start to kick in."

Whether he is happy with what WR Mike Williams has done and what his future holds in the short-term: "Again, we'll come back again this week, but the one thing -like I said last night: he gave good effort all week and all those things (are) getting better. We needed fresh legs in the kicking game if we had an injury. It worked out where he played at the end of the game also for us."

Whether he will still be week-to-week: "As (are) some other guys. We've got other guys in that same tree."

Whether he has been in touch with anybody in Tampa about the condition of Chris Simms: "No, I haven't. I probably should have, too, but no. That's a great young man."

Whether, in order to trust and buy-in to what he is teaching, the players must see at least some success: "The other thing I talk too - is kind of a cliché of mine - but it's kind of like being in that tunnel. You're digging, right? And when light comes, what do you start doing? Digging faster? That's the wrong way to do it. See, that's wrong. You dig when you expect no light. That's trust; trust; trust. You dig when there's no light coming. See, you just keep going. But all of sudden I'm digging and there's some light, 'Oh, I'm going to dig; somebody made a play; hey this stuff works.' No. It's digging when you expect no light. You dig when you expect no light. That's what I'm about. I'm just going to keep digging. Digging; digging until you make your own light. So, that's to answer your question. Because the other way's easy: 'Hey, the light's coming, we'll all go play fast.' That's just not the way it is. That's not life. So, we'll move forward."

 

Courtesy of the Lions