Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Monday, November 14, 2005

Why won't you let me enjoy this?

Aren't Mondays just more pleasant when the Lions win? My sheets were smooth and toasty warm when I woke up this morning. Food tastes better; today's coffee and muffin were terrific. And I'm sure my turkey sandwich at lunch will be wonderful.

The air feels fresher running through my nostrils. My lungs and muscles are energized. I wanted to walk up to several of my fellow citizens and just give them a hug. (But I didn't, because I have personal space issues - especially in the morning.) I love people today.

(Photo by Paul Sancya/ AP)

My point is, I just want to enjoy this. How often do you get to see our Detroit Lions, our Honolulu-Blue-clad gridiron gladiators, look that good in a game? How good does it feel to know that there is a team worse than the Lions? Thank you, Arizona Cardinals. Thank you.

Three touchdown catches for the wide-receiver-previously-known-as-Cowardly-Lion, Roy Williams? Has it really been ten years since a Lions receiver had that kind of performance? (And was Roy a little more motivated, facing his fellow 2004 1st-round pick, Larry Fitzgerald?) Hey, that means the embattled Joey Harrington had three touchdown passes! No interceptions, either. Do we have a quarterback of the future again? (Not if you ask Steve Mariucci, apparently. More on that later.)

And not to be overdramatic (or hyperbolic), but could the most important play of the Lions' 2005 season have been the 4th-and-1 early in the first quarter, with the game not even three minutes old? It was an abnormally gutsy call by the coaching staff, which was rewarded by Kevin Jones breaking free for a 36-yard run. Two plays later, Harrington hits Williams for a touchdown. The Lions had only a 7-0 lead, but had asserted themselves over the Cardinals.

Of course, I can't just sit back and completely enjoy this. Steve Mariucci won't let me. How does Kevin Jones get only 14 carries? He gained 81 yards on those carries, and according to my calculator, that is 5.8 yards per rush. Is that not good enough? Does Mooch point to Shawn Bryson's 44 yards on seven carries and say, that's 6.3 yards, so Bryson's better? Had he called more plays for Jones at the end, letting him gain yards and run time off the clock, would Arizona have made the game close toward the end?

Mariucci has to be the only coach in the NFL who thinks Bryson and Artose Pinner collectively deserve the same number of carries as Jones. Who doesn't think Jones is better? The opposing defensive coaches look at the ceiling and thank a higher power when Mooch takes Jones out of the game. I bet if you asked Bryson and Pinner's family and friends who should play, they'd say Jones, too. What is Mariucci looking at that we don't see? What planet is he on?

(Image from "Mutts" © 2005 Patrick McDonnell)

And then there's how Mooch handles his quarterbacks. Joey Harrington might have had his best game as Lions quarterback. (You could argue his 2004 game against the Giants was better.) He completed 69% (22-of-32) of his passes for 231 yards and three touchdowns. Okay, it was against a terrible Arizona defense. But he played well when he was supposed to.

So after one of the best games any of us has seen Joey play, what does Mariucci say when asked who will start next week? Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press:

"It was a good performance. And so we're obviously going to take that into consideration. But we're also going to take into consideration Jeff's health.

"We will consider playing Jeff when he can practice without a lot of pain and feel good, feel mobile. But until then, Joey's going to win games for us and play and that sort of thing. Let's just let the week go on and see where these guys are, see how Jeff feels. I have confidence in both guys."

Does Jeff Garcia make Mariucci sleep on the couch when he plays Harrington at quarterback? Do they go into a room and cry together when they realize Joey has to play? What game was Mariucci watching yesterday? Didn't Joey deserves at least a public pat on the back? Does Mooch think riding Joey like a mule will keep him motivated to play well? Or is he secretly (or not-so-secretly, as it were) miffed that his Golden Boy isn't healthy enough to play and make him look like he knows what the hell he's talking about?

Would Garcia's noodle arm have made some of those throws yesterday? And for all the praise heaped on Garcia for his mobility, Harrington eluded the pass rush and ran for yards when he had to.

To me, this is the most damning indictment on Mariucci as Lions coach. It appears that he would rather be right than win games. And everyone involved with the Lions - players, coaches, management, and fans - deserve a hell of a lot better than to sit back while Mariucci appeases his ego.


  • At November 14, 2005 1:49 PM, Blogger Ian C. said…

    Footnote: Len Pasquarelli tries to explain Mariucci's thinking in his ESPN column today.

  • At November 15, 2005 11:35 AM, Blogger the sports dude said…

    Sadly I think it comes down to trust and Mooch has none in Joey. Mooch knows his ass in on the line, he knows he needs to get into the playoffs to have any chance at saving his job and I he is going with the guy he trusts to get him there. Is he right in thinking that way? I for one don't think so, but I touched on it today at the old forehead. Millen is playing Mooch like a puppet, go ahead, do whatever the hell you want, but don't screw up because you have one foot over the edge buddy! I could honestly see Mooch getting a much deserved shit canning and Millen bringing Joey back for a fourth "last chance" with a coach that has a system that works for Joey. Mooch is just a puppet, Millen is the puppet master and Garcia is the guy with the hand up Mooches ass making the coach go thru all the motions. Kind of a sick and twisted way to look at "The Muppets" isn't it?


  • At November 15, 2005 11:57 AM, Blogger Ian C. said…

    Is that why we never see Millen's hands when he's up in the suite? He's operating the strings for Mooch?

    Or is Garcia Mooch's puppet?

    I'd rather watch The Muppet Show. At least that made me laugh.

  • At November 16, 2005 6:57 PM, Anonymous Evan said…

    This isn't the first time... Remember that Marty wanted to prove that Charlie Batch was too immobile, so the instant he played semi-poorly, he yanked him in favor of Mike McMahon? Mooch is essentially doing the same thing -- setting Joey up to fail. I'm not saying I KNOW Joey would succeed without Mooch. But I think it's pretty obvious that Joey still hasn't gotten a fair shake.

    And I'm not saying that if there's not a better option out there for the Lions, they shouldn't take it. But it's hard to ignore Joey's potential...he's smart and has a strong arm. That's a lot more than a lot of QBs have these days.

    But hey, Jeff is mobile...when his osteoperosis isn't kicking in, that is.


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