LIONS HEAD COACH ROD MARINELLI SEASON-ENDING PRESS CONFERENCE

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Detroit Lions Head Coach Rod Marinelli held his season-ending press conference today at the team’s headquarters and training facility (transcripts below). During today’s press conference he announced the retirement of Special Teams Coach Chuck Priefer and named Stan Kwan the team’s new special teams coach. He also announced that Defensive Coordinator Donnie Henderson and Offensive Line Coach Larry Beightol would not be retained.

In other team news, the Lions announced they have singed the following players:Â S Idrees Bashir (Memphis), WR Carl Ford (Toledo), LB James Hargrave (Connecticut), CB LaMarcus Hicks (Iowa State), G Ben Noll (Pennsylvania), S Etric Pruitt (Southern Mississippi), WR Edell Shepherd (San Jose State), RB Anthony Sherrell (Eastern Michigan) and WR Craphonso Thorpe (Florida State).

Ford, Hargrave, Pruitt and Sherrell have been allocated to NFL Europa.

The team also announced 2006 team awards as voted on by the players:

Bobby Layne Offensive MVP: (Co-MVP) WR Roy Williams and WR Mike Furrey

Lem Barney Defensive MVP: DT Cory Redding

Yale Lary Special Teams MVP: K Jason Hanson

Eric Andolsek Top Offensive LinemanAward: C Dominic Raiola

Mel Farr Rookie of the Year: LB Ernie Sims

Joe Schmidt Leadership Award: QB Jon Kitna

Mike Utley Spirit Award: LB Donté Curry

Chuck Hughes Most Improved Player: CB Stanley Wilson

2006 DETROIT LIONS OPPONENTS

HOME:Â Chicago, Green Bay, Minnesota, Dallas, New York Giants, Tampa Bay, Denver and Kansas City.

ROAD:Â Chicago, Green Bay, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Washington, Arizona, Oakland and San Diego.

The following are transcripts from both Marinelli and Priefer's media sessions today:

HEAD COACH ROD MARINELLI

Opening statement: “Let me just first start off with the injuries. We had Jonathan Scott and he’s going to be looked at today – hip – to find out if there’s going to be surgery or not. So, we’re just kind of waiting to see on that. As you know I’ve released two coaches. First one is Donnie Henderson. I think you know my relationship with Donnie is very close, it’s very difficult. But, it was more of a mutual parting and (it’s) more about systems than anything else, but Donnie will be a head coach in this league very soon. And, our offensive line coach, coach Beightol. (He) was a very good coach, but it felt like I needed to make a change at this time. I’ll just leave it at that. Another one that’s very difficult is Chuck Preifer. He’s going to retire. He caught me off guard, darn him. But, just a tremendous special teams coach, just a tremendous football coach. (He’s) a great coach for young coaches to be around. To watch a man teach young coaches how to meet, how to prepare, how to organize, how to work on the field, construct and (be) consistent. I mean, he’s been as consistent as any coach I’ve been around – win, lose, no matter what – same preparation. That’s a loss. That’s a tremendous loss. A personal loss for me and I really think the world of (Chuck). Stan Kwan will replace him, he’s a 16-year veteran and he’s been trained very well under Chuck – extremely well. Chuck has done a good job delegating authority to him over the years and on how we do business. So, that will be a special deal and we’re going to keep a long hand on Chuck, ok? Not to still lean on him and he’ll help us in some other areas also. I’m not going to comment right now on any candidates. So, I’ll leave it at that.

“And then –a little bit about the Dallas game. To finish the season, to kind of re-cap it, that was what I’m looking for. It couldn’t have ended any better than I wanted it to end – finishing. Our game finished on about the one or two-yard line (and) that’s exactly how you want your season to end. The toughness it took, it was a long drive, very physical drive and guys kept playing. They kept fighting the entire game and we took that extra step, that one little extra inch I’ve been looking for and we found it. Our offense I thought was – (Jon) Kitna was outstanding, again. Back-to-back, back-to-back weeks under pressure, getting hit, fighting and (he) threw the ball extremely well and the leadership part and how he came back in the fourth quarter. His stats show that. I thought the receivers played well. I thought Roy (Williams) had a heck of a game and (Mike) Furrey. So, those things were all very good. Defensively, we had some men stand up. Cory Redding – all year – has been there. I thought Kalimba (Edwards) stood up, had a couple of sacks. Our line backing core played very well. Stanley Wilson came up. So, one thing is your looking at (and) talking about that cement. Hopefully it’s hardening and to see that base that I’m looking for was really very encouraging against a very, very good football team for us to beat like that. That’s it. Jason Hanson I thought was tremendous. I can’t say enough. Four for four again, I think he’s hit 20 out of the last 21 attempts in field goals – something like that, 19 or 20. He has been unbelievable. I mean, there’s no better kicker in football and I believe that. So, I take my hat off to him. He’s been a source of strength for myself and this team all year long.”

On if Special Teams coach Chuck Preifer will serve as a consultant: “We’re going to use Chuck and Matt’s (Millen) already talked to him. We’re going to use his expertise and wisdom, so we’ve got his experience. We’ve got to lean on it in certain ways. I think he’s going to be able to help us. It’s not totally defined yet, but help us maybe in terms of evaluating people and prospects and maybe getting him back up here, get him away, get him out of the house – he’ll be ready to get (out of the house). I’m telling you. Come camp, come camp he’ll be in Stan’s ear, ‘are you sure you’re doing that right?’ But, no, it’s like last year I brought up Jon Robinson up to camp. Very wise, they see a lot. Chuck sees a ton. I mean, he sees a ton. From game management, to practice formats, to understanding – not just (the) kicking game – he understands a whole offense and defense. So, he’ll be very valuable like that.”

On what the speculation surrounding Matt Millen had on Marinelli as head coach: “With Matt, no. I just go on with me, business as usual everyday and just line-up and get going.”

On if he’s been told if Millen will be back: “No. He’s here everyday. So, I just go to work.”

On if he’s under the assumption that Millen will be here next year: “Oh, yeah.”

On how much he talks to Millen about his (Marinelli) needs, the draft, free agents and what does he think his biggest needs are: “Everyday. We’re still – we’re going to finish up these next two days and finish all the evaluations. All the written evaluations and all the film work we’ve done on these men before. We take a break and get ready to go to the senior bowl. And, like I said, the last seven or eight games have been very important to me because I’ve told you about the winning performances. So, we finish that up today – the whole thing as a staff and then we’ll sit down as a staff and see what glaring needs we want to look at in free agency right now. But, in free agency – the way I’ve always been – I don’t necessarily see that you have to get the marquee guy. It’s guys that come in and help you and that are hungry with football character. The No. 1 thing I’m looking for is football character, the No. 1. You can see how this team was tightened down to the core a little bit at the end and they fought and they played and now you just got to add to that core. I don’t want to bring some player in necessarily that has to be ‘the guy’. Come in and fit, do what we’re doing and now I want to get back to the draft and get some real quality players there.”

On evaluating the job he’s done this year and if he did his job: “Not good enough.”

On what he didn’t do: “I didn’t win enough games.”

On why he didn’t win enough games: “Well, I’ve got – again – I think as you look at it, just got to do a better job, maybe earlier getting the toughness that I wanted, the consistency I wanted, day in and day out. To see these men do it. I think sometimes the route I’m going is the harder route and how tough I want this football team to play and changes in attitudes is changing a long culture of losing. Just like I’ve said before, you have instant coffee or you’re going to percolate it. I’m going to percolate it. I’m going to do it at my pace. The way I believe it should be done. No panic, just poise. When you do something like that, when you lay the foundation of toughness – I’ll take the criticism, I have no problem, I don’t care. But, I’m not going to take this franchise or the game of the football and not do it right. I’m not going to do it that way. I see certain things I want done exactly right and that’s what I’ll do.”

On if maybe there isn’t as much talent here as he thought a year ago when he took the job saying he had to ‘coach guys up’ and if he needs more help, player wise: “Well, you always do. Every coach is going to say, ‘oh we always need more players and more players.’ I look at it as certain guys evolve. That’s how I evaluate. I’ll take a guy like Cory Redding, he evolved. As a player, he improved. You start looking at (Jon) Kitna, did he evolve? You start looking at this young offensive line we ended up with. We ended up with ‘Sticky’ (Clint Stickdorn) at right tackle, you know? He’s been on the practice squad all year and had a chance and he’s gotten better. We found a guy like (Stephen) Peterman off the street and he came in and did a heck of a job. Frank Davis, an un-drafted rookie. He came in and started improving. So, you’re looking at those areas and see are we improving in some areas? Like I said, the last thing to show successful business, sometimes, is profit. So, you look at are the building blocks coming in? And, if the building blocks are really right and that cement dries right, that’s something to build off. But, to have a shaky foundation, I don’t want that. Hopefully, I believe that’s getting set.”

On if he made the changes on his staff: “Yes.”

On why coach Beightol was fired after he’s (Marinelli) spent the last couple of months talking about the great development of the offensive linemen and how C Dominic Raiola had his best season in six years: “I said I’d leave it at that.”

On if that’s fair to coach Beightol: “I’ll leave it at that.”

On the speculation surrounding Mike Martz and if he’s told him (Marinelli) that he’d be back next season: “Everything we’re hearing right now, he’s back. He wants to get back, he loves it here. In this profession opportunities get open (and) you never know, but I think he really, really likes it here. He loves this offense and he loves some of these offensive players now, so he’s really very excited about it.”

On if Joe Barry is a leading candidate to be the defensive coordinator: “Everybody is still under contract. Even when the season ends your still under contract until a person is released. So I can’t really talk about guys until their released.”

On if there are players on the team that he likes that just don’t fit the system: “I feel actually pretty good for the most part about the fits. The line backers really fit with the speed. I think Cory Redding fits as a three and Shaun Rogers is a big time inside tackle which you need there. I mean those are fitting. I like some of the corners with their ability to re-route. What I want to constantly do is bring more people in just like I did last year. I want to bring more quality people in to come in and fit. Martz’s system is built around a guy like Roy (Williams) and a guy like (Mike) Furrey who’s just out of the wood work. The tight ends that fit is a guy like (Dan) Campbell who’s very good. The intelligence of a guy like (Jon) Kitna is very good. Kevin Jones is perfect for our system because he can block, he can catch and he’s a great runner. All of those areas I think there is some really good stuff and I really like it. I’m really upbeat about it and excited about it. More important than that is how these men work and that’s what you can’t see, but what I can see is how they work and how they prepare up to that last week.”

On if he expects to get better players next year: “I would just say by how we worked on the field and how we practiced I won’t speak for them I’ll just speak on their actions. How they prepared in meeting, how they practiced everyday. We were still in pads at the end of the year and I can’t believe a team that’s not in the playoffs would be in pads and not many teams are still. They went at it and had just great practices. The energy was very good, the preparation was good and I think they want to win the last game – the last games of the whole last quarter they fought and we just came up short in certain areas. In terms of actions I’m not a big word guy – mouth verbal means nothing to me. Action (is what I care about) and I see action on tape so that’s the only thing I care about.”

On WR Mike Williams: “I just want the best for him. I want to set standards that will help him be a Pro Bowl player.”

On his standards not being quite what Williams has for himself: “I want to set standards that will help him grow and be what he should be.”

On what happens if Williams doesn’t share those standards: “I think he will. The more you see it and you have to communicate them and show him why. He can be special. The last thing you want to do with a man who has a chance to be special is lower the standards for him. I don’t want to lower standards. I want to raise standards. I’ve got to communicate that to him and explain why I want high standards. I want high standards for the whole building. I want better practices, more energy, more toughness – all those things I’m looking for. I’m not going to lower standards, I’m trying to elevate. That’s just me and I won’t back down.”

On what kind of guidance he’s been given on what RB Kevin Jones recovery period will be: “Right now we’re talking about possibly camp but again, that’s speculating – it’s hard to say with that injury. But that’s what I’m hoping, that he’ll be ready for camp and then we would have to be smart with him in camp.”

On the importance of bringing back WR Mike Furrey and DT Cory Redding: “It’s very important. They’re very, very important to me. You talk about guys who just love football and show it, it’s on film. You see it. You see how they practice. You see everything they do. As I told the team, with Cory Redding, that’s what you’re looking for. The guy is in his contract year, his most important year, I ask him to go from left end where he’s played his entire career to go inside and play a three (technique) which he’s never done. It’s a whole different world in there. You don’t understand the world, I could tell you but you still won’t understand it. In one you can breath and the other you can’t – you’re in a closet. It’s an explosive, violent position and the expectations are unbelievable for that and I won’t lower the expectations. Some guys would pout; some guys wouldn’t want to do it; some guys might make excuses; he did none of that. He attacked it, 100-percent. He led the league in sacks as a defensive tackle. He only played 10 games in there and he had 8.0 sacks. But he was a disruption, chaos. Every down he played the same all over the field. That’s what I’m looking for. That’s how you win a championship. You put whatever your needs are over here and you go out and do what you’re supposed to do everyday. That’s what I’m looking for and that’s what I’m going to get. I’m going to keep working and working until that’s what I get. I’m just going to drive and find the type of guys that I want here. (Cory Redding), I want him here. (Mike) Furrey, I want him here. That’s a guy that played in the secondary (last season), comes in here and was last on the depth chart and didn’t blink and didn’t ask for favors. He came out and performed and put it on tape and ended up with 98 catches. It’s not the stats, it was the catches – his body was laying out, reaching up and they were key catches all year and he fought. That’s what I’m looking for: toughness. I’m going to find it.”

LIONS SPECIAL TEAMS COACH CHUCK PRIEFER

Opening statement: “First, I would like to thank everybody for the treatment over the years. Mike (O’Hara) gave me a lot of bad grades but I appreciate (everybody). It’s been an honor to work in professional football and I’m going to miss it, but it’s time. My wife (Sheila) wants me to spend some time with her and she’s my best pal and I want to do that as well as spend time with my grandkids. Coach (Marinelli) said eventually she’ll throw me out of the house and then that’s when I’ll be back working. It’s been a great run. I thank the Ford family for everything they’ve done for me. (This is) a great organization. I know (the Fords) take a lot of criticism. I’ve been in three different organizations and trust me, this is a great organization. We’ve got the right man here, as you know, with Rod (Marinelli). You’ve been around him enough so you can see and I really believe he’s going to bring what this family richly deserves and that’s a championship. Sometimes it happens right before our eyes and it happens very fast. He is what he is and he demands and get what he wants and I think you saw progress during the year towards that. It doesn’t always show in wins and losses. That’s hard for us to accept because our society bases on W’s and L’s. We know that as coaches, we’re used to that, that’s the way it works. I really believe he’s doing it the right way. I wanted to thank Matt (Millen), the front office and all the people here that have been so good to me and to my family.”

On the role he might play as an advisor for the team and new special teams coordinator Stan Kwan: “Stan is a dear friend and he’s paid his dues and he’ll do a great job. I was so happy they decided to go in that direction. I don’t know how much he wants me interfering, but I’ll be there to do whatever he wants me to do. I’ve got to be careful because there are certain things he wants to do different I’m sure and he’ll have to have somebody help him just like I did. There are some teams in the league that have two assistants now because it’s such a big job and it plays such a very, very important role in the game. I think some people on the outside don’t always realize this though I think most of you do. One of the things that I’ve always laughed at is if you watch a game and the kickoff to start the second-half, you’re lucky to have half the stadium filled. It’s just the nature of the game. I think it’s changed and the people that are real football fans understand that. It’s become very, very intricate, much more so than when I came into the league 17 years ago – much, much different. Head coaches put a lot of emphasis on it. General managers put that in the players’ evaluations and when you’re looking at free agents, rarely do you see a first rounder come in and play special teams. Ernie (Sims) was in it early and then he started getting nicked (so he stopped) but he really had done a great job for us.

“We just started talking about it yesterday because I think I caught them a little bit by surprise with this decision – with as young as I am, they weren’t ready for me to (retire). Whatever it is (they would like me to do), I think the world of this organization and if I can do some things to help and help Rod because he’s the right guy and I would love to do it.”

On when he knew he was going to retire: “I made the decision before the year. Shelia and I talked about it. We left a little bit of an opening just in case. I don’t know what the just in case would have been but we talked about it. We built a house down in North Carolina about three years ago and we have our grandkids (down there) and then my one daughter moved real close to there with three granddaughters and I want to spend time with them too. My son coaches with Kansas City, I want to spend some time with him too and visit with him and work with him a little bit too. He’s in special teams also. It’s just something that I feel. I know how old I am but I don’t feel that old, or act that old until I leave the field and my body feels that old.”

On how old he is: “I’m 65.”

On when he informed Coach Marinelli: “I went up to him yesterday and told him. I wanted to tell my players, the four specialists, but I wanted to tell Rod first. I had the letters written for Mr. and Mrs. Ford and Bill Jr., Matt (Millen), Tom (Lewand), Martin (Mayhew) and Bill (Keenist). I wanted to tell him face-to-face and I think I caught him a little bit by surprise. I had not given any indication – I think Nick Harris said he had a suspicion. Right now, this is just kind of the nebulas of what they’re talking about, we’ll see how that works out. I would like to stay a little involved. I’m going to do clinics. I’ve done a few more clinics this year than I had done in the past because I knew I would be done. We’ll see. I don’t want to tie myself done but at the same time I would like to stay involved. I love the game, it’s been in my life for 44 years.”

On whether he would have stayed another year if this team appeared on the brink of winning the Super Bowl: “That was one of the thoughts, but you know what, that probably would have made it even harder. It was a hard year in a lot of ways; because of the record, and because of expectations. I’m the eternal optimist and I really thought we were going to have a better year than we ended up with. I was very pleased with the way it ended. One of the things to me that I thought was hard was – I think I’m similar to Rod in a lot of ways. I’m a demanding guy. I believe in the physical nature of the game. It’s not an easy game, it’s not an easy game. I believe it’s a tough man’s game and I’m a no-nonsense guy. I like to have fun but at the same time I’ve got that focus. I’ve said this many times, I really believe this: you win games with great players and you win championships with great people. I believe that sincerely. Your Mike Furreys,  your Cory Reddings, your Jason Hansons, your Nick Harris’ – those are great people. You build a core of a team around great people. We have enough talent to win championships and I think that’s what Rod believes in and that’s what I believe in and I think that’s why I think we’re a lot closer than 3-13 shows. That’s my own opinion. (Rod) always talks about that one inch. The Pittsburgh Steelers are a good example, to go from where they were, that’s going to happen in this league because everybody’s got good players, everybody. The difference is those types of kids and of course health too. You can’t control health, that’s hard.”

Farewell: “I really want to thank all of you for the fair treatment over the years. It’s been fun to work with you. Good luck, God Bless all of you.”

COURTESY OF THE LIONS