Transcript of Lions Head Coach Rod Marinelli's Weekly Press Conference
LIONS HEAD COACH ROD MARINELLI
Opening statement: "Just had the two injuries: Gerald Alexander concussion and Cory Redding had an ankle sprain. He'll be day to day."
On TE Casey FitzSimmons, who was also injured yesterday: "He's okay."
On if he saw QB Jon Kitna take his helmet off and walk off the field while a play was still going on: "No, I didn't see that. I'd like to see it before I respond to it."
On if he would consider benching Kitna for ineffective play like he benches other players: "I said last week to you guys I'm not going to talk about personnel changes until game day."
On if Kitna is on a shorter leash because of his problems during Sunday's game: "Every player's on a short leash."
On if he still believes his previous statement that Kitna is one of the best QBs in the NFC: "I do. Yeah, he had a bad game.
"I feel he's our leader and a very good quarterback. I do."
On how the team was down 21-0 for a second straight week: "The two explosion plays were brutal. We gave up two explosion plays, which you can't do. When you play good defense you can't do that. And (we) just weren't on it."
On if there's anything he can change: "No, we just have to go out and we have to perform better game day. No doubt about it; coaches and players. And it's probably as much as inconsistencies. As you look at the tape, we'll play extremely well for a while, then we'll make bad plays; bad check here and there, and it's just throughout the team. Then they fought, got back, and it just wasn't good enough."
On if he looks at what he or the coaching staff can do better: "Oh no, it starts with me. There's no doubt about it. All of it starts with me, and it has since I've been here; I've always said that. So I look at everything we're doing, and I thought this last game we were very inconsistent. We started terrible; no doubt about that. And the thing I liked was how they fought back. But then we let it get away at the end - something you can't do."
On why the offense did not perform well early in the game: "They were just not getting it done. I mean, it's: execution here, a breakdown here, guy getting beat on the one-on-on here. It's just not happening."
On if he has considered making a change with Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry: "No.
"Because I feel fine."
On if he feels fine about the defense's poor performance: "Oh, I don't feel fine about that, but I like how it's being put together and put in, and it's what I want."
On what circumstance would make him consider making a QB change: "I wouldn't do any of that right now."
On if he can fathom any circumstances this year that would change his mind: "No."
On if the team can win with Kitna making so many turnovers: "No. The entire offseason that's what we've talked about: First rule to winning is don't beat yourself. And you have a -2. It's hard to win in this league. You have to fight to get a +1. And we failed in that both games."
On if that is correctable for Kitna, after 12 years in the league: "It has to be correctable. And it's about concentration, all of us. And it's just not one guy. It can be every player on that offense, so I think that's important; protection, pressures, all those things."
On if his job is harder than he thought it would be when he started and whether he still believes he will be successful: "Yes, I do. Because I just believe in what we're doing. I believe very strongly in how we do it. I believe strongly in the approach. Is it easy? No. But that's why it makes it challenging. It's not easy. But the first thing I had to turn and do - the very first thing - is get this team to practice correctly; from day one; how to do things exactly right. Find the guys who like to do this stuff. And then once that's in place, then it gives you a chance to go out and compete to win. Now our job right now is we just have to play better game day. They compete, practice, meet; do all the things I want. We as a staff and players have to go out and compete better on game day, doing things more thoroughly."
On if the team should be successful for all the reasons Mike Martz and J.T. O'Sullivan are no longer with the Lions: "The reason we have to go beat the 49ers is about us. It's not about an opponent. It's about what we do. It's about our practice; it's how we go out and hit the field and the intensity we have to play with down-in and down-out, and (we) can't beat ourselves. We have to be smart with the ball, ball security; we have to get takeovers, the hustle's got to be right. Every snap we play we have to be on it. Special teams has got to be on it. That's what the issue is."
On if the issues the team used to be criticized about are no longer an issue because of Martz's departure: "We're playing the 49ers. That's who we're playing. And we're playing that team. Mike Nolan coaches the team. That's who we're playing. And when you go on the road, I think the first issue for us is to go on the road and win a road game, which we struggle in - especially going across the country. On grass, we've not been great. So that to me is the No. 1 issue for us: getting into a plane, going across the country and going out and competing on foreign territory."
On Martz's complaint that he never ran the ball because the Lions fell behind, which the team is still doing: "No question. We have, and we have to get that corrected."
On if he expects this team to make the playoffs: "I believe in this team thoroughly. I can't look all the way down the road. I can look at this game and prepare for a very, very strong team."
On if he will have failed if the team does not make the playoffs: "To me, I'll fail if I don't get this team ready to play this week going across country. That's as far as I'm looking. We have to go across the country and go play a game outside on an away game that we've not been very good at. We've got to get that done first."
On if he classifies this Sunday's game as a "must-win": "No. It's not. It's one game; we play 16. This is game No. 3."
On if he will again refer to the Giants, who rebounded from early losses last season: "No. I've talked about that. And I talked about it after losing our first game. And other teams have turned it around, and other teams have failed. I showed them an example of a team that was very successful, had a rocky start and didn't listen (to outside influences), just went back to work and did the things they believe in. Do the things that I believe in. But now we have a great challenge. To me, it's a heck of a challenge to go across country."
On where he turns now after seeing big mistakes from veteran players who were brought in to help: "Same thing, try to coach them, and we have other guys we're rotating in there. Within our system we rotate people in a lot, and we just have to play better."
On what he saw on film regarding Green Bay WR Greg Jennings' 60-yard play: "On the tackle? We were playing 'lurk' and it was a good call; (he) caught it across the middle. We were in position; just have to go make the hit. It would have been third and about five."
On if it would be fair to say former Tampa players are here because they weren't good enough to play in Tampa: "No, I wouldn't say that."
On why Lions GM Matt Millen isn't answering questions about why the team is not progressing: "It's all on me. It starts right here, nobody else. I talk to that team, I coach that team; it all starts right here, and that's what leadership is about. It's on me. And we have a bad game, bad play, storm is brewing, it's my job to keep an even keel and move forward with it. It's all on me. It's not on anybody else. Me."
On if Millen gives him enough support: "Plenty. I have all the support I need. It's my job to get it right. Nobody else's."
On if he thinks he's done all the preaching that he can to help the team win: "I think it's more than preaching-it's teaching. I'd just use a different word, but teaching. So when you're teaching and it doesn't work, or it's not coming, the results aren't there, you keep teaching. Maybe say it different and keep working at it, but it's on the teacher. It's all on the teacher. It's not on the student. They're willing students that I have right now. They're very willing, you've seen us practice. We changed that culture of how to do business here. No doubt about it. You guys have all seen it and you've told me that. Each of you have told me that, and that's step one. Now we're back to ground zero-how to compete. Now it's on me continually to get this team ready; if they're not ready, that's my fault. If they're making mental errors, that's my fault. We have to cut down more, cut down the information that we're doing, maybe bare-bone even more. Because they're going to play fast and they're going to play hard. They're trying that and they're working at that. So it's back on me as a teacher, our staff as teachers, we have to take that responsibility."
On if he thinks he needs more time to teach his system to the players: "No, not more time, no. It's now. That's been my deal from day one since I've been here. There's no excuses for that performance, no excuses, no explanations, none. What we've got to do is-they perform very well in practice, all the things we're asking - it's now being consistent on game day. Now we've got to take it to game day and we're not doing that. That falls on me."
On if he thinks the team's losses have to be a result of either the team lacking talent or his staff being unable to teach properly: "No it doesn't, it can be a combination. It's a combination. I think we've got to teach better and they've got to play better. We've got to be more consistent. It's not black and white."
On if he sees tangible signs over his three seasons that his philosophy is working: "Yeah, I can see it in practice. I can see all the things how we've had to prepare, how this team needs to prepare each and every week. I think the key just to give you a chance in this league is your preparation during the week. How you practice, practices with certain etiquette, with pads, the teaching, the note-taking, the meetings, the walkthrough, the lifting, being on time, the discipline-all those things - you don't have a chance to even have an opportunity in this league because good programs do that. We've hammered that and I felt this year in particular, it was very good. All of our offseason work, camp, all those things, I think we're hitting it. Now like I've told them, that doesn't guarantee a win. You have to go out and win on Sunday. This just gives you a chance. It just gives you an opportunity to go play well. So I'm not getting it done in terms from the practice field to game day consistently. I'm not getting that done."
On if he thinks the team's performance on game day shows that the players aren't learning his system: "You've got to lay a foundation somewhere; you have to. And that's what I believe in. I believe in that with all my heart and that's what I'll coach. I think that's No. 1, and we're getting that done, but now the next step is making sure that it carries over to game day, and that hasn't. The first two games it hasn't."
On if he sees a similarity between laying a foundation for a college program and the foundation he's trying to set up with the Lions: "You've got to go back, now. I'm listening so I can give you a good answer. You have to be clear to me. Now what do you mean by a college program and a pro football program? Tell me the difference."
On if building a foundation for a team is more suited for college football, since there is more turnover in the NFL: "That's not true. I was in Tampa and that was not true. I've seen programs like this lay the foundation with the right people, how you practice, how you meet, how you do things. You have to do things correctly first, and then the winning will come. I think we're starting to do the things correctly, but we're not winning. I take that responsibility."
On if he expects to be fired if he has a losing season this year, or if he thinks he'll be back for a fourth year: "I have no control over any of that. I don't know. (If I) look at that, (then) I'm spinning my wheels and my energy on something I don't know. Why would I do that?"
On what he thinks of his offense's performance so far this season: "The thing that has hurt us is our defense early. We've gotten behind so quickly. The things we wanted to do in terms of running the football and our boot-game and the play-action part of it, we've gotten behind so quickly, we've not been able to do that. I think we've got some elements there to run the ball and the play-action and the boot- . It's there for us, but we're not playing together as a team right now in all three areas. So I feel it's got a chance, but I can't say that until we do it. We've got to come out and have an even game and hopefully we can control the clock a little bit better."
On if Kitna is at odds with the coaching staff after he appeared standoffish during the game, or if that's just normal for him: "No. I didn't see what you're talking about, I didn't see everything. But I don't what normal behavior is when you're down 21-0."
On if any of his coaches told him if they had problems with Kitna: "No."
On what he liked about his defense in Sunday's game: "The thing is, we were hitting our gaps pretty good. We were up field, we penetrated very well. You can usually tell the thing is humming fast because your guys are getting hit in the backfield. We did a nice job of that, getting off the ball and those things. A big part of the passing game I think that hurt us: one, it was the two big plays against us, but it was also up front in terms of containment of the quarterback. That was a big emphasis going into the game, to contain this guy. He had some big plays when he got out of the pocket, one time on a blitz and a couple times out of a four-man rush. That breaks your coverage down. So it all works together; the containment has to be right and then the coverage has to be right and we broke down in those areas."
On the play of T Gosder Cherilus and if he'll start Cherilus next week: "Well, I thought he was very physical, very physical and great temperament. But I'm not going to talk about who's playing yet right now."
On if he has a say in all personnel moves on the team: "Yes."
On if there were any surprise moves on the roster: "No, no, it's on me."
On if Matt Millen has the final say on roster moves: "Yeah, but I have input a lot; but every guy that's here, I've had a hand on that, and that's on me."
On if the players on the roster are "Rod Marinelli guys: "Yes. I just said that to a tee. I take that responsibility to a tee."
On if he's surprised the team has played the way it has on game days: "It's surprising, that's a good word. It is, because they'll prepare, and we've prepared very well, then we'll make some mistakes. So it's not just the players, it's the coaches. It's all of us. So we have to teach it better or cut down the amount of put-in we may have. We have to look at that and cut back even more to make sure we're exactly right in what we're doing."
On if there was a common theme among Kitna's three interceptions: "Well, it's just decision-making between the receivers and the quarterback."
On if he can be objective about Joe Barry's coaching performance and if he would be able to fire him if necessary: "I'm very objective in terms of I know exactly what I want and I've had a chance to work with him for years and he's putting it in exactly the way I want it. So if there's a problem with it, it's me. I don't know if it will ever come to that; it's on me. With Donnie (Henderson), when he was here, it wasn't done exactly the way I wanted it in terms of the system. That was on me. This thing is being put together. I have my hand in it just as much as anybody else. That responsibility lies with me. It's just like when I was in Tampa, it was the same way. There's the handprint of the head coach on this thing. It's my handprint. It's being taught the way I want it, it's being installed the way I want it, and if it's not working, that's on me."
On why things didn't work out with former Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz: "You guys probably wrote more about it. I would go back and look through your notes, what you wrote. You probably answered that question yourself.
"One, I have great respect for Mike, he's very bright. I've said that a hundred times and I'll leave it at that. To me that's a long time ago. I just have great respect for him."
On if he thinks the defense gave the team a chance to win late in the game: "We let the offense down in the first half and it's a team game. Then I thought the defense (played well) toward the end of the first half, and then generated some juice for us in the third quarter and fourth quarter. But it's a team game; each unit's got to perform. It's not one unit, it's not one player, it's not one coach, it's all."
On if he's ever been a part of a similar game, where a team was down big and came back, only to lose in the end: "Yeah, but on the losing end, too. It was kind of flipped the opposite where we had a heck of a lead and a team went back and forth and got us at the end. But coming back like we did, usually when you come back like that and you get the momentum, especially at home, you get a chance to put that team away and we didn't do that."
On if he sympathizes with the fans: "First thing I will say about the fans is they were awesome in this game. They were unbelievable. It was so loud down there, it was incredible. Our job is to make them happy, and we're not doing that. I fully understand that. The thing I do appreciate is what type of fans they are. They're special. When we took that lead in the game, it was special. Now our job is to make them yell and scream and have a good time and we did not do that."
On what the difference was for the defense in the first and second halves: "The thing I've been trying to hit on is the consistency. It wasn't effort. It may be one guy not doing his job exactly right and you have a breakdown. We had breakdowns like that and then we'd play well for a while and then have a breakdown here or there. The breakdowns were big ones. A guy falling down, all of a sudden that's a 60-yard pass and then we got beat on a one-on-one. Those are explosion plays and to play good defense, you can't have explosion plays."
On why he doesn't expect to make any drastic changes: "I think that, at least for the way I am, it's poise not panic. I've said that a thousand times. I just believe in what we're doing. I believe it and my heart's in it and I'm going to work at it. That's just how I do business. I think there's a way you can panic and think I've got to change this and change that and do this and do that. That works for some people, too. Some people that works for; it doesn't work for me. I think it's gradual and it's a belief and you just keep doing it. You make subtle changes here and here and here, but the players need consistency. They don't need upheaval every other day - a new face looking at this, a new guy. They need to keep going that way. That's what I'm going to do, that's how I'll do business."
On if he thinks the players believe in what he is trying to do: "The way they practice, come to meetings and are attentive in meetings, take notes and are on time, and do all things professional that they didn't when they got here, by nonverbal action, I would say yes. I'm not going to answer for them."
On if the team needs to play angrier: "I thought we came out and played very angry in this game. It wasn't about the anger, it was a breakdown here and there, it was a lack of execution here and there - this week it was. The week before, missing tackles and those things, it wasn't the same type of game. And that's the thing if you're coming out every week and playing hard and fast and (it's) the details, we correct those. But when it's effort sometimes then you have to go back and coach that. But the challenge I believe for us (now is) we'll be going across country. And this will be a major challenge for us in terms of our tempo, our pace and our decision making."
On if the team was too tight or too relaxed: "This game they weren't too relaxed. You work against being tight. I do all the time. I want them loose with kind of a swagger, relaxed and go. They (Green Bay) came out fast, but the way they came back it showed some poise. But the way we lost it didn't show the poise that you need."
On if some players were trying to do too much: "That's the first time you always look at the film, is play the defense, or play your offense. Do your thing; be accountable for your job and the outcome of your job. Take responsibility for your job, and then things will work out. But sometimes you have guys guessing or doing things out of the system, and that's my job, to make sure I constantly communicate that, to do what's right."
On what he would say to people who would question if he is still the right guy to coach the team: "A lot of the same things I'm saying to you, all of the questions today I got. If you summarize all of my answers today, I would say that we've tried to put this thing together as a team in terms of how you do business first in this building, in this complex, that's No. 1. The second phase is we have to play better game day. That's on me. It's not on anybody else; it's on me. And once we're able to take our practice habits to our game with consistency, we're going to do a nice job of winning. But as of this point, that has not happened, and I won't blow magic and mirrors to anybody. I deal in reality, and I like what we've done in this building. I don't like what we've done on the field yet consistently."
On if he would ask the doubters to stay confident: "I'm confident. I'm confident, and I am very strong on my beliefs. I am."
On the adjective he would use to describe the team if he were a reporter: "Inconsistent, and during the game, the inconsistencies. And that's not just this team, it's the coaching staff. And people are doubting it and criticizing it - good. So now I have to tighten up more and make sure my beliefs are out there. I'm going to go teach it again. And when your belief is so strong I guess I can say, and it's being doubted, and that's okay too. But I believe I have to get this team ready to go this week and get them to go. But is it hard to swallow? It's a big turkey going down my throat, with a couple bones sticking in there. But I have to spit the bones out and move forward."
On what kept T Gosder Cherilus out of the starting lineup the first two weeks: "I think it's a lot of check with me's in the run game and things. We just wanted to make sure as he was working in that we weren't going to have the mental errors, and he's come along pretty well."
On if Cherilus had any mental errors Sunday: "No, he was pretty good. But again, we were into just a throwing game now. We just kind of got into a lot of throws, so there's a lot more to it if the game is close and you're running your full offense. But what I really like about him is how he competed."