Transcripts From Today's Lions Press Conference: Marinelli, Colletto and Brown!
LIONS HEAD COACH ROD MARINELLI
Opening statement: "Since the last time we had a chance to visit and talk, I've promoted two of our offensive coaches. Jim Colletto, who I'll introduce in a minute, will be our offensive coordinator. He's in charge of our offense and will be the play caller. Kippy Brown will be our assistant head coach and passing game coordinator under Jim's direction - under Jim's umbrella."I think why this is a good hire, why this is a good promotion and why this is good for our football team: it's continuity and I'm big on that. Our players need, obviously good coaches, but also coaches they're familiar with and they believe in. Both of these guys have excelled in that area.
"They're both really good in terms of fundamentals, execution and have a real strong, simplistic approach to this game; being physical, which I want and they want, and what's nice also is that I've been through the fire with these guys. That's the best way - the worse thing I wanted to do was to bring somebody in who I have not worked with and maybe not known if they had the approach that I want. This is the best way to do it, I believe, and I really think it fits our team at this moment. Continuity is the key.
"This team has a great football character, there's no doubt about it. It proved that last year through the ups and downs. The perception would be that we're (far) away; the reality is that we're (not that far) away. Two home losses to two quality teams or we would have been in the playoffs. But we didn't. We've got to clean up the lopsided losses on the road and I think with Jim, I feel great about this, we're going to develop this running game. His background is strong, not in just the running game but obviously in the passing game. Not turning the ball over on the road and being smart in those areas will help a young defense out. We'll play a team game.
"I feel great about it. Jim's got a great background; he's a long time college football coach, which I love because of the teaching and the fundamentals. He's been a head coach in college football and has had a great run here in the NFL as an offensive football coach. I feel super about it. I feel good about the direction.
LIONS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR JIM COLLETTO
Opening statement: "It's a pleasure for me to do this job. I've been kind of looking forward to having the opportunity to do this in the NFL for a long time. We line coaches sometimes get shuffled off in the corner and nobody thinks we know anything but having big guys bump into each other all of the time. So I'm looking forward to it. I'm not intimidated by it; I've been doing this most of my life. This will be my 42nd year coaching football. It's not rocket science - it doesn't change from Pop Warner to Pro Football, you've just got a lot of better players playing. I'm really anxious to do this and I'm looking forward to it."
On what his philosophy will be with this team based on the personnel here right now: "Basically, the philosophy of this team is going to be, and again you're going to hear a lot of clichÃ© words, but it's going to be a balanced attack. The terminology and these titles that they give people, when I first started coaching they didn't have any of this stuff; so you had to do a lot of everything. Over time I want to be in an offense that can throw and run the football. If you look in my background through Purdue, Ohio State, Notre Dame and the NFL, I've been with good running teams and good passing teams. When Jim Everett was our quarterback at Purdue, we threw the ball a lot. When Mike Alstott was our fullback we ran it a lot. You don't have to be a genius to figure these things out. I want to make sure that we run a real balanced style of football. Make the defense have to play both run and pass; you have playaction passes off of your best runs; you don't have to be real fancy, you just have to be a good execution team. If you look at the teams that are playing in the NFL playoffs and are now approaching the Super Bowl, they aren't a bunch of wild looking teams. They do the same things week in and week out and they do them well with good players."
On what he will keep and what he will discard from last year: "Well, I've had to do this before. When I went to Purdue the first time, when I went to Arizona State the first time and when I went to Ohio State, the first thing I did was: ask them what are the best things you do. I've already asked all of our coaches what are the best things that we do here. I'm not going to throw those things out the window. Once we get through that process and find out what they like the best - I'm talking about Kippy (Brown), Pat (Carter), Wilbert Montgomery and Adam Gase and find out exactly what we liked the best. Then we'll incorporate that in with some of the things I may look at.
"We're not going to do a lot of shifting and have wideouts going on all different sides and all that kind of stuff because I think they get tired doing that and I couldn't figure out what they were doing anyway. As long as I can figure it out then I'm happy."
On whether he agrees with some of the players' sentiments that this offense didn't have a firm identity: "I think all football teams have to have something they hang their hat on and they've got to be confident in what they do and that's something that we're going to progress towards. We're not fishing for a play that you need that you hope is going to work. They will have done it over and over and over enough times - football is a repetitive game. What the fans see is all the receivers making great catches and quarterbacks making great throws and all of that and that's great. In pro football, you've got to get your good players to make big plays. Sometimes you can't coach them to do that. Some of the time they do it on their own. But they have to be able to execute the game. The game has never changed since it started back whenever Princeton played Rutgers or whatever. It's the same game it's just played by different people. So yeah, there are going to be things they're going to hang their hat on; you're going to see a lot of the same plays run over and over and over."
On whether he took a bigger role with the running game midway through last season: "Well, that really never happened. Wilbert Montgomery and I and Mike (Martz) would meet each Tuesday and talk about what runs we would do. That never changed, that went all 16 weeks in a row. In some games those runs got called more often than not and that was not in our hands. So we made our suggestions and we got them up on the board and we probably had more things than we really needed to have. As far as me changing my involvement in the running game, the only thing we really did is about halfway through we started to go out on Wednesday mornings and walkthrough the runs a little more specifically than we had before."
On if he would want more runs: "In terms of numbers in a game - yeah, I would have liked to have more numbers of runs in a game, but not more running plays."
On if it is safe to say that the runs they talk about they'll use: "Well, we're not going to practice things we don't use in the game. It's a waste of time and, yes, the things we're going to put up on the board we're going to use. We can get into how that's all going to be done but, yeah, the things we put up there are going to be used."
On his relationship with the players because they seem excited he's been promoted: "Well, I'm glad they feel that way. As you get in this business and you mature and you get over your egos and all of that, you find out why you really do this and that's for the players to be successful. I don't have any visionary place where I want to go; I want to see these guys be successful. They've lost here a long time. One of the examples I give you is a year ago when I was at UCLA we were playing USC if you remember and I'm a UCLA guy and they'd lost to USC seven years in a row and Karl Dorrell gave me the opportunity to talk to the team two weeks before that game and I said, 'it's time - enough's enough! How much embarrassment are you going to take? How much humiliation goes on here?' And I think these players are at a point; it's time to end all this stuff. I like to think that I'm a calm, sane, unemotional person but that's not the case and I don't think you can coach football and not be emotional and get involved and the players â€¦ the players follow your lead. So I hope they reflect the way I think the game should be played."
On the biggest problems on offense last year and how this situation improves: "Well, the only thing I can say in terms of problems is we just had too much and we couldn't do all the things that we tried to do all the time. The repetition of some of the things wasn't as thorough as it should have been and where I came from background-wise coaching and playing for a man named Tommy Prothro many, many moons ago I haven't changed one lick and that means 'don't fool the troops.' I would use different terminology if this wasn't in public, but the players are the key; it's not (about) the coach, it's (about) the player."
On his reaction to Martz's comments on the team and players: "Well, to be honest with you, I have just heard about those things. It really doesn't do any good to dwell on what Mike said or anything like that. I know what I think of these players and that's the only thing that counts for me."
On how he sees RB T.J. Duckett fitting into the offense: "Oh yeah, and T.J. - you can get more specific a little bit with professional football but there are certain kinds of things that he's real good at and there will be plays that will fit him to a tee."
On the perception by the fans that the offensive line was the worst position group last year and wondering why the offensive line coach has been promoted to coordinator: "The linemen are always at the brunt of everything. I've been coaching the line now - like I said - this is my 42nd year coaching linemen. They do well and someone makes a great run, sometimes they don't get credit for that. I know there's a big perception about the number of sacks - that isn't all them. I mean, there's a lot of other people involved. I'm kind of very protective of those guys; they're a lot better than people think they are and we went through this in Baltimore - same deal - and turned around and almost broke Eric Dickerson's rushing record. I think the system will help them and it will give them a better chance of being successful more often."
On QB Jon Kitna and where he sees him fitting in: "I talked to Jon yesterday at length because we talked to each other off and on for the last 10 days and didn't hook up with each other and he said to me he's real excited about coming back and doing this. We're going to give the quarterback a much bigger role; a much bigger role in the running game and control of it and he's looking forward to doing that. He did that in Cincinnati. But he's part of the Lions team and under contract with us and I'm looking forward to having him play."
On Martz not wanting the quarterback to call an audible: "We'll do that. He's going to have a lot more control over what's going on than he's had before."
On if Kitna is the starter: "Well, at this point, he's just part of the squad and he's a valuable player on the team and, like all the other players are. We're going to go into OTAs and training camp and let it all sort itself out."
On max-protecting the quarterback: "Let me put it this way: whatever puts the line in jeopardy, I don't like. That's the nice thing about being in this position. We're going to make it as easy for them as we possibly can and be functional as a football team. You're going to see a little more three-step-drop play; a little quicker throwing game; you won't see as many seven-step drops anymore - the tackles hate those things. But everything's geared to those guys up front."
On if he still views WR Roy Williams and WR Calvin Johnson as the strength of this team: "Well, it kind of reminds me, in terms of when I went to Oakland that one year because we had Jerry Porter and (Randy) Moss came in and Lamont Jordan was going to be the running back and all those pieces didn't fall together like we hoped it would. It's nice to have two wideouts like that on the edge and develop a solid running game because it's very, very difficult to stop runs and the passing game when you have two wideouts like that. An example would be the San Diego Chargers the other day with the fellow that was 6-foot-5 catching eight passes. You want to put them all up there on the run? We'll throw it but we may do a little bit more from two-back football than spread across the field."
LIONS ASST. HEAD COACH/PASSING GAME COORDINATOR KIPPY BROWN
Opening statement: "He kind of said most of what I was going to say as far as, (I'm) glad to be in this position; I've been here two years now and I've been able to watch some of the players that we have and what their potential is and I think we have great offensive potential here. I'm really excited about my role as assistant head coach, although it probably means I'll get all the non-paying speeches (laughter); that's the way it was at Tennessee when I was the assistant head coach there. But we have some weapons here - we do. We have some players that, as Rod said, have great football character. Our guys worked hard. They tried to do it the right way and that's exciting. I think they'll come back and they'll battle. They played hard, they gave us everything they had and I think that we've got some guys that, if we put them in the right position, can make enough plays to win a lot of football games."
On his role: "Well, like I said - like we said - I work for Jim. As they put together the run game, I've got to put together the pass game to compliment it. He's going to ask me questions; football situational. Everything situational, so, when we come to a situation, for instance, third down: 'Okay Kippy, what do we need to do on third down?' I'll study it; me and the other coaches - quarterback coach, whoever else we have on the staff - and we'll come up with an answer for him. 'This is the best thing that we have for this situation.' Protections first - we know we can't sit back there and pad it and hold onto it; we've got to get the ball out. But I'll be giving him suggestions on what the best plays are for certain situations."
On how much of the Martz' system and terminology he will keep: "Well, quite a bit. Rod talked about the continuity and so, we don't need to go out and re-do the whole playbook and change the whole terminology and all that. Systems are systems - as long as you can communicate you're fine - and we did a lot of good stuff. There's a lot of good offense that we have, but we've got to trim it back a little bit and make sure that when we call a play we've worked it enough to where we have a hell of a chance for it to be successful."
On if that system worked against rookie WR Calvin Johnson because it seemed to be overwhelming him toward the end of the season: "I don't think Calvin gets overwhelmed by anything. It was a lot for him but I think he did a heck of a job. Calvin didn't have very many mental errors and I think he's a special player and he was a rookie. He showed some of those rookie mistakes but he handled it pretty good."
On if he would have liked to see Johnson catch more balls last year: "Oh, as a receiver coach, of course. But, you know what - that's past. That's water under the bridge and I'm excited about what we can do down the road - I really am. When Rod did this; made Jim coordinator and said, 'hey, I want you to work with Jim and coordinate this passing game,' because I've worked with Jim for a year now and I know what kind of coach he is. We're going to do a hell of a job here and the potential that we have offensively - the talent that we have - I think we'll get the most out of it and that's what you're looking to do."
On if Marinelli has talked to him about his role with Tony Dungy when he was in Tampa: "Well, to some extent and we'll continue. We've been gone; we're just getting back into the office and getting this thing together but I'm a football coach and Jim alluded to this. Football coaches do whatever is necessary to get the job done. So whatever Rod wants me to do or whatever needs to be done - I'm prepared and the rest of the coaches are prepared to do it."
On him being 'Rod Marinelli with an offensive mind': "Well, I believe football players make football plays. I'd love to be smart enough to draw up the perfect play for every situation but that doesn't happen. Eventually somebody's got to whip somebody. So I think selling our players on, 'hey guys - we're going to put you in position but you've still got to beat him. You've still got to win the thing.' You just don't want to put them at a disadvantage. I think that's football coaching. You take your players and you put them in the best position to be successful and let them play and you've got to sell them on it and they've got to believe in what you're telling them and they've got to believe that they're going to be successful. That's what we'll do. I know Roy can win - we've seen it. I know Calvin can win; I know Shaun McDonald can win - in most situations - but I don't want to put them in a situation that they can't. And if we can do that and protect our quarterback we'll make enough plays to win."
On if he'll still be working with the wide receivers: "I'll be working with wide receivers; I'll be working with tight ends. In coordinating the pass game I'll be working with everybody on offense."
On if Shawn Jefferson is the wide receivers coach: "Yes."
On if he's comfortable with the quarterbacks the Lions have coming back: "Well, I'm confident that you can get it done with a guy not having to throw it as much as we threw it. Jim mentioned him going through this once before; I kind of went through this too at Miami with Marino. He'd been in an offense where they threw it around a bunch. When Jimmy (Johnson) hired me as a coordinator, one of the things he wanted to do was downplay that and do pretty much what Jim's talking about: get him more in charge of the run game; get into good runs with a check-with-me system and that kind of thing. Having gone through that before, it's a sales job. We've got to sell these guys that, 'hey, we're going to put you in position to make plays. We're going to give you a chance and Jon- or whoever the quarterback is - a chance to get you in the best possible football play. And in doing so, now you've got to go out and execute it.'"
On this being the first time someone has said Kitna is not the absolute starting quarterback: "That's not my decision. That's not my decision. That will come as we go."
On his pecking order for the receivers going into next season: "Well, I think of course Roy and Calvin are the starters if we're in a two-wide receiver set. And then you have Shaun (McDonald) and Mike (Furrey) who are good players. The good thing is that we do have some depth there and we know that Shaun McDonald's a very good player - you look at the numbers he put up - and you've got to use your talent. I don't want a guy over there sitting on the bench and not being utilized. So that will be part of our challenge. We've got to find a way to make sure that he gets his plays and not neglect some of our other playmakers."
On how much of Johnson's back injury impacted his participation and him being more involved next year: "Well, I think he's a unique player; I think he's going to be a star in this league for a long time and he's a weapon and we've got to use him. I think the back injury did hamper him some. He would never say so. He's just not that way but I think it did. He's a young guy that's trying to do things right; learning the offense and trying to please and there was a lot of pressure on him which - that's the way it is in this league, you've got to deal with it. But I thought he did a nice job of hanging in there and he's a tough guy, he's a smart guy and I'm really glad he's here. He's going to be a heck of a player in this league."
On if WR Mike Furrey was the forgotten guy in the offense this past year: "Well, when you have Roy and Calvin there's just so many balls to go around. That's pro football. But Mike Furrey's a heck of a good football player and a real valuable player to this football team."
On if there is a simple way to explain to people why the Lions are better off without Mike Martz: "I don't want to get into all that. All I know is this: is that we have some football players here that I think are very, very talented and our job is to get them in a position so they can be successful. That's the whole thing. We talked about being balanced but the bottom line is: we've got to put them in a position where they can go out and make enough plays to win the game and dropping back seven steps may not be the way that you do that here. That's not what our head coach wants to do so we've got to find a way to do it the way he wants to get it done; being tough, running the ball more and we'll take our shots and our playmakers have got to make plays."
On if some of the concepts he has will help in the red zone: "Jim alluded to it; the good teams that I've seen in the red zone, do you know what they do? They run it in. And when they put too many in there and we've got one-on-one outside with Calvin and Roy - then they've got to make plays on cornerbacks. It sounds very simple but that's pretty much what it is and if you study - and I've done studies throughout the years on the best red zone teams in this league - and that's what they do. They get down there and if they spread them out - Indianapolis - they're going to run it. If they bring everybody inside then they take shots outside to the wide receivers. It's not real hard. We'll do that and luckily we have some guys out there that can create some mismatches when we do get one-on-ones."
On what happened between him and Tennessee and how close he came to taking the coordinator job: "Very close. I'm from there. I've got a son there and a couple of grandbabies and my wife is still mad at me. But of course I've been in Tennessee; I was an assistant head coach there for a total of nine years; got a lot of friends and family there. But I like it here. I think we've got a chance - I really do. I think we've got a chance to be special. Now, how many games we win - I don't know - but I think we've got a chance to be a really good offense and we've got some major pieces in place. So that's exciting to me."