Lions Update and Transcript of Coach Marinelli's Weekly Press Conference

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  • The Lions had meetings today and reviewed film from Sunday's loss at Atlanta. The team will return to the practice field on Wednesday and begin their on-field preparation for next week's game against Green Bay.
  • The Lions released G Matt Butler from their practice squad and signed C Ben Claxton to their practice squad. Claxton, a fifth-round draft pick in 2003, comes to Detroit after being released from the Seattle Seahawks. His NFL debut was in 2005 with the Atlanta Falcons.
  • The Detroit Lions will kick off their 2008 home opener Sunday, September 14 against Green Bay by hosting the "Detroit Lions Pre-Game Tailgate" on Brush Street from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. The "Detroit Lions Pre-Game Tailgate" includes activities and entertainment for all Lions' fans and is free to the public. The team will also host the "Detroit Lions Pre-Game Tailgate" for the next three home games, including: Chicago (10/5), Washington (10/26) and Jacksonville (11/9).
  • Tickets remain to the Lions 2008 regular season home opener against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, September 14 at Ford Field. Fans can purchase single-game tickets by a number of reasonable and flexible options, including single-game purchases, the $99 "Pepsi Pack", 2-game pack, 8-game pack and Group Tickets (20-or-more). Among the numerous options for fans is the new "Pepsi Pack". The Detroit Lions and Pepsi have partnered to offer the "Pepsi Pack" for the Lions 2008 home opener that will go for $99 and includes two upper-level tickets along with two soft drinks and two hot dogs. Fans can purchase tickets for Lions' regular season games in person at the Ford Field Ticket Office from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and at all TicketMaster outlets. Tickets can also be purchased over the phone at 248.645.6666 via TicketMaster or on the Internet at Detroitlions.com and ticketmaster.com.

LIONS HEAD COACH ROD MARINELLI
Opening statement: "A couple injuries last night: we had (Dan) Campbell, had a hamstring, he's getting more tests. I think Paris Lenon, it sounds like he'll be okay. He's got a chance to practice on Wednesday, we believe.

"Just a quick thought after reviewing the film - I talked to you last night - it confirmed a lot of things we already talked about after the game, especially on defense. I'll give Atlanta credit, they did a nice job. It still comes down to the issue is us. In terms of some of the tackling, missed tackles we had, some of the angles. I thought we played a little bit high overall. A little bit tentative and it affected our alignments a little bit. But all those things are correctable. I talked to the team today, it's all correctable. (They're the) same guys I liked Saturday night before the game, and guys I want to coach and feel good about. So, we've just got to learn from it as we're watching the tape right now, and then once this is over, we move on and get ready for our next game."

On whether or not LB Jordon Dizon will see more playing time next week against Green Bay: "I think, especially on Monday, we evaluate everything. We'll go back to our tape again tonight and evaluate everybody and we're going to get the best players on the field, no doubt about that. We look at playing time."

On T Gosder Cherilus and the possibility of him seeing more playing time against Green Bay: "Like I just said, every week we're going to evaluate everybody and we're going to get the right guys on the field."

On how well he thought Dizon played against Atlanta: "I saw it (the game), you saw it. There's nobody that I can come out and say played very well on defense."

On how much blame he places on the coaching staff for the defense's performance over the last eight games, dating back to last season: "You said all eight games were played poorly on defense? Then you're wrong; you would be wrong. (We) played well against Kansas City, played very well against Dallas, played very well against the Giants.

"But I'll answer your question: all of it. Every defensive coach, coordinator and myself are accountable every week in the game of football and getting it right to this team. There's no doubt about it and that's the first thing we'll do, go out and correct it.

On if it is inexcusable for his defensive line to be dominated by the Falcons offensive line: "No question."

On why he thinks the defensive line had trouble with the Falcons offensive line: "I thought we were a little bit high, like I said, I thought we were a little bit tentative. We've just got to get our pads down and come off the ball a little bit better. I thought we were in our gaps, but I thought we had a chance to really go if we could've stopped the run. I've been saying that from day one. I thought we pass-rushed pretty well, but we've got to stop the run first."

On why he thinks the Lions got down so quickly at the start of the game: "Well, we missed a tackle early. The first (touchdown) play was a slant and we had a chance to make a play and the safety gave up a big play, explosion play. When you do that, you're behind quickly. The second (touchdown) play, we came out and missed another tackle. Angles caught us, and now we're down by 14."

On what he thinks contributed to the team's poor play early in the game: "It's execution, it's all of it. Like I said, sometimes it was tentative; sometimes it was tackling; sometimes it was angles. All of us are involved, coaches and players."

On the disagreement between QB Jon Kitna and the coaching staff on the sidelines: "I answered that last night. I said in a game that's highly competitive like that, anger - guys want to win so bad, emotional, and it's something we don't want but it happened."

On what he means when he said his defense was tentative: "When I say tentative, what I'm saying is: I thought we got a little bit tentative and it showed up in our alignments at times. I think that once that broke, we all of a sudden saw that he (Falcons RB Michael Turner) had really good speed, he changed our angles and we started taking sometimes a little bit deeper angles than we should have."

On if he thinks his offense should have had more of a sense of urgency at the end of the game: "I think, yeah, a little bit more. But I also thought the way we were moving it, I felt pretty good. If we could've got one more score, or hopefully if we could've come back and given them one more series of downs, then I was hoping to put it in our offensive hands at the end of the game as I looked at the two-score game at the end."

On what he meant by saying his offense should have had "a little bit more" urgency: "A little quicker.

On if he thought the Lions should've gone to a no-huddle offense at the end of the game: "I thought a couple times we could've got out a little bit quicker. We were going to go right to a no-huddle the next series. Just a little faster tempo, I thought, at times, but I felt okay. I just felt that we were going to go no-huddle that next drive, because we were struggling playing them and you wanted to hopefully eliminate another possession on their part."

On if the team committed to the run as much as he wanted to: "We got behind. We got behind, but we stayed with it. I still felt we ended up trying to continue to run the ball against them."

On if he felt the run was effective against the Falcons defense: "I think we could've been. I think we would've had an opportunity to maybe wear them down a little bit. That's just speculation on my part, but that's how it kind of felt."

On the atmosphere in the locker room: "I feel great about this team, I really do. I've said that from Day 1. It's a strong locker room; they're going to hang together. And the thing we talked about: (we're) 0-1. Do I like it? No. No. But we've got a heck of a game coming up this week. You don't dwell on it. I don't have that luxury. So I move on. After this, then I move on. I think from the outside in, (influences) coming at you, so you just have to hang tough. We are what we believe we are and I've got a great belief in this team, a very strong belief in this team. We'll pull together, hang together, and we're going to come out fighting."

On how the team practices tackling: "Are you there at practice? So you tell me. We go into a circuit, right? Twice a week."

On if he felt the need to reiterate to the team to not point fingers at anybody: "I think you're repetitive in your words if you want something. It's just like if you want hustle or whatever it may be, you repeat your words. I think it's important that this team stays together and they feel good about themselves. But there will be outside-in influences, which is part of this profession, and we understand that. But it's important that to win in this league you stay together, by the locker room."

On if he dispenses blame like he would when he praises players: "Now, whose kudos did I give to when we did something well? Name them."

On if he believes in the kudos-blame system: "I don't understand what you're saying there, come on."

On if he gives kudos to his players: "To who, to you or to them?"

On if he gives kudos to his players directly, not through the media: "Yeah, I do, so yeah."

On whom he would pin the blame on for Sunday's loss: "Am I talking to you or the team?"

On relaying to the media what he told his team: "Why would I tell you?"

On the media's role in asking questions about how he addresses his team: "Good question. Next."

On the Lions being a good team, but not showing up in the first game: "I agree, no question, obviously you want to show up. It's a 16-game season, and it happens. Am I condoning it? No. Do I like it? No. Did it happen? Yes. Now you move on."

On the effort the team displayed, particularly in its tackling: "Not good enough. I think the effort wasn't good enough, it's not what I want."

On what he thinks the main factor was in the defense's lack of execution: "I just think the factor was a lack of execution by coaches and players together, just a lack of execution. Doing the things that we drill every day, we didn't do. We didn't do them effectively, and obviously, we didn't do them consistently. That's the first (thing) you look at. They're in there watching it right now, evaluating themselves with their coaches. We grade every play; every player is graded. They got a grade sheet; they know exactly what their grade is: effort grade, tackling grade, plus and minus every snap, so that's how you get things corrected."

On the play of the offense: "I thought we did some good things offensively, I thought we did. We had the one turnover, which is one too many. The protection was solid. Our commitment to try to run the ball was there and I thought, overall we threw the ball fairly well. But we've got to play better defense, and I thought the special teams was solid."

On the play of WR Calvin Johnson: "He's going to be something. It was a good start for him, so we just move on from there. We've just got to play as team."

On if he was satisfied with the play of the special teams unit: "Not satisfied, never. I know going into it, it's not a big, big part in terms of returns. We've got guys who are hopefully sure-handed if we've got to fair-catch it and so on and so forth. Like I said from day one, it was the coverage units. We've got to be on it, especially kickoff and punt cover. And we're solid. We had one that I thought got away from us."

On putting RB Marcus Thomas on the return teams: "We needed to take a look at him. He's a guy we'll continue to look at him."

On his plans to use WR Shaun McDonald on returns and why he primarily used WR Mike Furrey: "(Mike) Furrey and (Shaun) McDonald. Just seeing if he felt comfortable going out and judging the ball and catching it and fair-catching it."

On if he would like his special teams to be more explosive: "We would like it, no question. I mean, as long as we don't get the penalties. That's a chance to gain some ground, obviously. We've just got to keep working on it until we get better."

On any chance of re-signing WR Brandon Middleton, who showed potential with the return game in the preseason: "We're going to do whatever it takes to help our team and if there's another player out there, then that's something we'll look at."

On RB Rudi Johnson's performance: "He had one run really that was pretty good -nice feet, got up in there. He came out, his hamstring felt good and all those things, so I look forward to keep working with him."

On if he still thinks Rudi Johnson's role on the team will grow: "Oh yeah."

On if he feels the offensive line is good enough to do better than four-yards per carry throughout the season: "The thing I've said over and over (is) it's about attempts. I think that helps your protection, which it will, and I think it allows us to get the ball to the big guys outside."

On his role in helping to maintain a tight locker room: "I just think it's that you talk direct to people; communicate what helps us win. That's the most important thing about locker room: what helps us win? And it's a bunch of guys that are unified, see what the goal is, come out for practice every day and eliminate distractions. Just like you go on the road, go home, whatever it is, that player you're playing, you have to eliminate distractions. And outside influences you learn to eliminate them."

On if falling 21-0 so quickly in Sunday's game caused players to get away from the one-snap-at-a-time philosophy: "With the score like it was, yes. You have to just keep playing one snap at a time, and we didn't do that."

On if it was alarming that his team did not stop the run: "Run defense is critical. I've said that from day one. To win in this league consistently, you have to stop the run. And we didn't do that for various reasons, which I've pointed out. But we have to get better, point of emphasis go back into this week and (that's) something we have to do."

On breaking down some of the problems with the defense: "Like I said earlier, I thought a little bit of everything. Sometimes our (run) fits were off a little bit, I thought the tackling, I thought the angles sometimes and judgment of the angles of the back, and they (Atlanta) played well. I give them credit; they came off the ball extremely well."

On if poor numbers suggest a real problem with the defensive linemen: "No, I think it's how they were blocking us a lot of times with the doubles and the power, you know, and the backside guy pulls here, so those guys have to hold their gaps. And sometimes you'd like to see them split a gap, so some of those things, but no, the whole group. It's all, it's every guy. Every guy has got to be disruptive. Every play is that player's play, and the play you're supposed to make, you have to make it. And we didn't do that."

On if it means a player sacrifices making a play because he has to fill a gap: "I didn't say that. As I answered this question, I'll rephrase it one more time. The play that you're supposed to make, you have to make. And there were guys at times that had chances to make plays and didn't make them. But the defense is built one: on discipline and two: when your opportunity arises to make that play, you have to make it, and we didn't do that."

On how damaging it is in this defense when a player does not make his play: "In most defenses that happens. I would say, like I've said earlier, it wasn't one guy, it wasn't group; it was all of us."

On if that means blame is to be spread throughout the team: "It means at times there was a lack of discipline. Initially what I said was the tackling was off a little bit. The angles because I thought the speed of the backside, we have to adjust. Lost our gaps sometimes, pursuit could be better, and I thought we got a little tentative, and some of the alignments were off."

On if he will try to make changes, without overreacting: "You always look to make changes if it can improve you. So that's why we'll go back through the tape again tonight and see how we can get better."

On whether there's a point where he'll tell himself he has the wrong players to accomplish his goals: "Not now. Not now. I feel very good about them. We had a bad day; bad day at the office, no doubt about it. But like I said in the beginning, this is a group I saw Saturday night; it's the same group and I like them. I like them a lot. And it's a group I feel good about, and they will respond."

On the problems the coaching staff is responsible for: "They did a couple things in terms of substitution and they (Atlanta) got us second or third play of the game, and we didn't respond quickly enough getting the right guy in."

On where he has to clean up to ensure that does not happen again: "Coaches, players, all of us. Seeing personnel, making sure the right people are in the game, and it got us second or third play of the game."

On if his comments about "outside influences" refer specifically to the media: "It's anything that's outside that distracts any chance you have to win. So I try to do a nice job of creating an environment that's good for learning, good for football, good for practice and eliminate distractions."

On the mindset of having a bad team versus a bad game and if he's done anything differently from the past: "I think that it is the players who are in there right now, and they see it, 'Here's how we clean this up, this is correctable, this is correctable.' So we have to correct it to eliminate it. And the one thing is to go in there blindfolded and not see it, and I won't sugarcoat anything; I don't do that. I just tell them the truth, the coaches will tell them the truth, 'This is where we have to correct it, this is what we have to do to get it right,' and they know it's right, and then you move on."

On if rebounding from big losses last season proved that you can weather one or two bad games, but not a string of bad games: "Oh yeah, there's no question. We're going to weather them. I'm going to weather them. And we're going to line up, were going to go out and practice, and that's not even an issue. Not even a statement, an issue. Move on. Once I'm done here it's over, now we go on to the next game."

On the message he wants to send to his players going into the Green Bay game: "One is, let's learn from this. Let's not put a new backpack on our back and start carrying extra weight and extra luggage around by perception. So let's eliminate that so we can now focus on what we have to do, not what we didn't do. We know what we didn't do; now I've got to turn it for them and say, 'This is what we're going to do.' And it's no more than that, but it's hard to do. And they just have to get wired in; that's why I talk about eliminating distractions and moving forward."

On if he's confident this team has enough talent to make all the necessary corrections: "Yes."

On if he gets so frustrated at times that he wants to pound his head against the proverbial "rock": "No, I don't because that's not how I'm built. I see a lot of people that are built like that; I do. And I feel sorry for them. But I'm going to look at a problem, I'm going to get up every morning with great enthusiasm and great energy and attack the problem because I believe I have the right people in place that are going to get it done. I feel good about it, and perception is what it is, and I know what reality is, so I line up and get going."

On his message for the fans: "Just what I've said: we're going to get up, go to work, pound the rock. Same thing I would say to them (the players). It's what I believe. I'm not going to say anything different. It's what I'm about and it's what I believe in."

 

 

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