Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Hats off to Harrington

Our spectacular win over the New Orleans Saints on Saturday came at the right time for the Detroit Lions team. Next week's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers could have a great effect on their playoff chances and would be a nice win for us to end the season with. Joey Harrington is being really positive about the upcoming match up and claims that he feels fired up about the game despite the fact we are not advancing to the playoffs. His attitude reflects his nobility as a player. Harrington is a good leader and a committed team member who puts forth his best effort no matter what the reward.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Rogers Makes Some Big Plays

Our game against the Cincinnati Bengals was challenging and tough and one player shined above the rest. That player was Charles Rogers. He hasn’t really been in the spotlight much since we signed him in 2003. On Sunday he came ready to play and pulled off some plays worthy of much recognition. First he set up a touchdown by catching a 26-yard pass that brought the Lions to the five yard line. Later in the game he made a trip into the end zone on a 35-yard pass from Joey Harrington. Rogers made a good show of it, breaking tackles on the way to scoring the touchdown. Hopefully Rogers’ performance will earn him some more minutes on the field in the end.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Lions Offense Fails Against Packers

The Lions dropped the ball on Sunday in their 16-13 overtime loss to the Green Bay Packers. Jeff Garcia felt very responsible for the offense failing to convert and score. He felt that the offense failed where the defense was succeeding well. We kept the score down but needed to get into the Packers end zone to make any real difference. In the fourth quarter with minutes to go we had the chance to win when we pulled a fourth down quarterback sneak. We failed in this as well and just couldn’t stop the Packers when the game went into overtime.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Viking Interception Seals Lions Fate

The Detroit Lions suffered a 21-16 loss against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. We looked pretty good on the first drive and we scored first with the field goal that ended the opening drive. But on the next Vikings possession they pulled off an eighty yard touchdown pass that won them the lead they would keep for the duration of the game. For every touchdown they scored we answered with a field goal and still had a chance to make a comeback into the fourth quarter. We had the ball with over two minutes to go. The Lions got a few first downs and then Jeff Garcia threw for an interception and just like that the win belonged to the Vikings.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Falcons Fly High over Lions

The Detroit Lions could not get a good rhythm going in their game against the Atlanta Falcons. They looked pretty good at the start of the game, however the Lions game went downhill from there. An interception changed the momentum of the game in the Falcons favor and then a fumble on their next drive cost the Lions the ball once more. Most feel like our defense has been fair this season but we just can’t produce offensively. Unable to come back from a large deficit the Lions lost the game 27-7. With Steve Mariucci gone can we even hope to pull out a good record for this season facing teams like the Vikings, Bengals and Steelers.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Whistles Sound and Penalties Abound

The Detroit Lions played well against the Cowboys but just couldn’t pull off the win. We were plagued by penalties to the tune of 120 yards given to the Dallas Cowboys. We had way too much long yardage to overcome on offense and just couldn’t convert on downs. With Earl Holmes and Boss Bailey out due to injury our defense wasn’t as strong as it should have been. They would have been the ones to stop the Cowboys from rushing 149 yards. Nate Wayne was one of the players keeping us in the game with his forced fumble and Jon McGraw was working for the good guys when he managed a fumble recovery for a turnover. There were a lot of good Lions plays and we were playing strong to the end, but the penalties controlled our destiny.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Beat Cowboys Without Garcia?

Seriously injured, Jeff Garcia is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys. We have beaten them once already and hope to do it again. With how well we did against
Arizona, I wouldn’t be surprised if we stomp the Cowboys despite the fourth quarter luck they have had recently against teams like the Philadelphia Eagles. Steve Mariucci thinks we can learn from and duplicate some of the great plays and defense we executed against the Cardinals. Let’s cheer on Roy Williams because this will be his first chance to play in his hometown’s own Texas Stadium.

Then our Lions can come back home to Detroit and, in true Thanksgiving Day tradition, while we slice and eat our turkeys, they can carve up and devour the Atlanta Falcons.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Lions Get Some Rest for a Long Season

With the Detroit Lions being 1-1, the season doesn’t look too bad but the way they are playing, it is going to be a long season. Their next game is against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Tampa. It’s not a good way to get off a bye week but maybe they will get enough rest for the game against the Bucs. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 3-0 for the season, so the Detroit Lions will have to make some big plays and have some things fall in their favor to come out with a win.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Detroit Gets Beat

The Detroit Lions go down for a 38-6 loss to the Chicago Bears. The Bears picked off Joey Harrington 5 times throughout the game. The way the Chicago Bears played was like they were playoff contenders. The way the Detroit Lions played on Sunday did not look like the same team that took the field against Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers. At least the Detroit Lions have a bye week next week--maybe they can sit back and figure out what went wrong on Sunday. The next time we will see them play will be October 2nd in Tampa Bay against the Buccaneers. This will be a test for the rest of the season to see what the Detroit Lions’ year will look like.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Lions Beating the Packers

Detroit Lions beating the Green Bay Packers 17-3, it looked like nothing could fall through for Brett Favre. You got to feel bad for Favre, knowing how much he plays with his heart. Even though the Detroit Lions won, they still need to work on their defense--if it was any other team they would have gotten beat. The Packers came out of that game with more passing yards and had the ball more than the Lions! The Detroit Lions’ next game is against the Chicago Bears. It will be at Chicago, so they better bring their game face because the Bears are ready to play.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Dangerous

With a healthy Charles Rogers there will be no more excuses for the Lions. With three high profile receivers that posses a lot of talent and game breaking ability, the Lions passing game will be ridiculously threading. Joey Harrington has had plenty of time to learn the West Coast offense and should be expected to have a break out season. If not, Jeff Garcia is waiting for his moment to take the reins.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Team Report:

- from FOXSports.com

One area where the Lions should be much improved defensively is in nickel situations where Boss Bailey, who was injured all of last season, will line up at linebacker with Alex Lewis. Bailey will replace Teddy Lehman, who did a decent job, but doesn't have Bailey's speed, instinct for playing zone coverage and playmaking ability. Lewis also has excellent speed and has a good knack of when, and how far, to drop. Both players need to improve in one-on-one coverage, but they only have one year of experience each, so that should improve with more playing time. Lewis has shown some pass-rush ability, but he's undersized and can get knocked off track too easily. Look for the Lions to spend more time with Bailey in pass-rushing drills. . . .

The Lions are still looking for candidates to back up Pro Bowl return specialist Eddie Drummond. Free-agent receiver Kevin Johnson is currently slated as the No. 2 punt returner, but neither the team nor Johnson wants to see that going into the regular season. The backup kick returner right now would likely be Shawn Bryson, who is solid but doesn't have enough burst to be a significant threat.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

College Hall of Fame

A former Detroit Lion is being honored in the College Football Hall of Fame. Former Detroit Lions offensive tackle/guard Keith Dorney (1979-87) originally came from Penn State. He will be officially added to the Hall in South Bend, Ind. in August 2006. His induction will take place in New York on December 6th.

“I was thrilled when I was notified. I really wasn't aware of just how special of an honor this is and the company I'll be with. I'm really proud to be a Penn Stater and will accept this honor on behalf of my teammates and our school.”
- Keith Dorney

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Golfing

Recently, if you check out almost any football team’s website, it seems like everyone’s taking it easy and playing golf. Many teams are hosting their annual invitational tournaments; the Lions will host the Detroit Lions Invitational. Last year with the participation of many fans, the Lions were able to raise $225,000 for Detroit Lions Charities. Not only will the team be participating in a golf outing, but also a bocce ball tournament.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

MINICAMP MAYHEM:

- from FOXSports.com

Backup quarterback Jeff Garcia raised some eyebrows when, during one practice session, several of his downfield passes came up short. Garcia is being counted on to step in and produce immediately if starter Joey Harrington struggles, but the Lions weren't concerned about Garcia's inconsistency. Mariucci said Garcia, who threw well for the majority of the Lions' minicamp, has a history of flubbing a few here and there in practice, and it's never been a problem. . . .

The addition of offensive coordinator Ted Tollner became evident from the first set of offensive snaps. The Lions are going to do a lot more shifting and motion with the idea of creating defensive mismatches. Even though teams will play a lot of zone against Detroit's three-receiver offense, getting a defender out of position at the start of a play could lead to more big plays downfield.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Mike Williams

Detroit Lions wide receiver Mike Williams has been welcomed with open arms to the starting line. He joined the line by being the Lions’ choice at #10 in the first round. It was actually surprising that Williams was not picked up by another team before this. I personally thought that the choice would’ve been used for LB Derrick Johnson, but fattening up our receiving end never is a bad thing. Now, along with Roy Williams and Charles Rogers, Mike Williams comes into the fold to insure that teams will fear the Lions offense.

Williams (20) went to USC but abandoned the school during his sophomore year. After a year of waiting, he entered into the 2005 Draft. One of the most prolific receivers in this year’s draft, he will be a great addition to the Lions.

GO LIONS!!!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

DRAFT DISH:

- from FOXSports.com

The addition of WR Mike Williams will give opposing defensive coordinators a case of the willies. With Williams, Roy Williams and a healthy Charles Rogers, the Lions' staple will be a three-receiver offense that will force opponents into a nickel defense on first down. Few teams have the cornerbacks to match up with the size and speed of the Lions' three high first-round selections. The team had one thing in mind when it drafted DE Shaun Cody: Pro Bowl DT Shaun Rogers. Cody is an excellent pass rusher from the tackle spot, where he'll team with Rogers on passing downs. In that scenario, he should face a steady diet of single-team blocking, and the Lions believe he is good enough to exploit that. CB Stanley Wilson is unpolished but has excellent speed.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

New Uniforms

The Lions unveiled their new alternate uniforms right before the start of the new draft season. The new uniforms do look pretty fly. Maintaining the old school blue within the sleeved and the numbers, the uniforms acquired an intense look with black. Check it out on the official website of the Detroit Lions. You will agree with me.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

DRAFT WHISPERS:

- from FOXSports.com

The Lions want to do what most teams in the top 15 want to do: trade down and get more value. Because that isn't likely, they probably will stand pat at No. 10 and -- unlike previous seasons -- take the best player available regardless of need. The team is more likely to make trades in the second and third rounds to acquire targeted players. Though president Matt Millen believes the foundation of a team is its offensive and defensive lines, he knows the Lions have sorely lacked playmakers on both sides of the ball. If he can make an upgrade at a position such as receiver or cornerback that seemingly is set, he will do it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Braylon Edwards

Braylon Edwards visited the Detroit Lions headquarters recently to take a tour of the facility and associate himself a little more with the franchise. Coming from the University of Michigan, the receiver is a top prospect for many teams and is presumed to be drafted during the first 10 picks of the first round.

Edwards racked up an extreme 97 receptions for 1,330 yards and 15 touchdowns during the 2004 school year. Hopefully, the Cowboys will be able to attain him and perfect his skill.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

SCOUTING REPORT:

- from FOXSports.com

Second-year running back Kevin Jones exploded onto the scene in the second half of last season, and he averaged 113 yards in the final eight games. Jones, though, is still a little rough around the edges, and the Lions want to smooth those out during the offseason. Jones still needs work on learning blitz pickups and must also get better in learning routes. Detroit's screen game was poor last year, partly because the running backs didn't do a good job of selling it. Now that the Lions have upgraded their line with players who can block in space, the screen can be a valuable weapon.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Lions and Youth Programs

The Detroit Lions are scheduled to host two programs directed towards the youth. The programs (a Youth Football Camp and a Coaching Academy) will take place this summer and are open to youth (male and female) between the ages of 6-15.

Maybe this can establish a new draft. Find potential players while they are young and develop their skills throughout High School. In a way, this could develop superhuman players that could dominate the game.

But, moreover on a serious note, it is good that the Lions are putting together youth programs to get younger athletes interested in pursuing their dreams.

Go Lions!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

OFFENSIVE ADJUSTMENTS:

- from FOXSports.com

Mariucci has said there will be a 25 percent change to the offensive playbook, but it's not likely to be anywhere near that high. President Matt Millen insisted on some changes, but Mariucci is a strong believer in his West Coast system and he isn't likely to make wholesale changes. With the addition of new coordinator Ted Tollner, Mariucci will do some significant tweaking by adding more no-huddle because Joey Harrington is more comfortable with it. The Lions will also try to be less predictable by adding different formations and doing more shifting and motion, but it won't be a "new" offense.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

ABC Broadcasts

ABC will be broadcasting preseason football this year, taking over for some “Monday Night Football” audiences. August 29th will mark the first “Monday Night Football” game ABC has aired of the Detroit Lions in preseason.

This is just the base of the cake. In this inaugural show, ABC is making a base attempt to show off Ford Field, which will be the location of Super Bowl XL. This Super Bowl will also be aired on ABC.

The first game of their preseason will be against the St. Louis Rams. It’s a great time to show off the teams new skills in the public frame.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Garcia and the Lions

Just recently, Jeff Garcia signed a one-year contract with the Detroit Lions for a backup Quarterback position. At 35, Garcia is still a very resilient and resourceful player. He stills maintains the youthful exuberance of a draft pick with the skill of a player who has rocked the field for some years.

"Jeff said (recently), "There's some things I want to get better at and Steve would say (then), 'How can I get better?'...'What do I need to work on?' (Garcia) is the same...He's not looking to slow down. He's looking to get better at certain things and improve his game; and you've got to appreciate that about a guy."
- Lions head coach Steve Mariucci

Garcia spent his last year with the Cleveland Browns and the five years before that with the San Francisco 49ers. During this time he amalgamated 18,139 passing yards and 123 touchdowns.

Go LIONS!

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Kennedy and Pollard

- from the official site of the Detroit Lions

The safety hails from Texas and played his collegiate football at the University of Arkansas. The tight end is an Alabama native and spent his collegiate years at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill.

The safety's NFL upbringing occurred in the rugged AFC West division with the Denver Broncos -- while sometimes playing home games amidst blizzard-like conditions. The tight end fulfilled his NFL dreams with the pass-oriented, quick-strike Indianapolis Colts -- who enjoy a home-field advantage in the climate-controlled RCA Dome.

And the safety is 27; whereas the tight end turned 33 last month.

On the surface, Kenoy Kennedy and Marcus Pollard have led vastly different lives, within the same sporting occupation. But a closer look reveals the two playmakers -- who both signed with the Detroit Lions Monday as free agents.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Time to play ‘Free Agency’

Detroit Lions coach Steve Mariucci is looking forward to the opening of free agency. It’s time to open the gates of wheeling and dealing and Mariucci plans just that. On this upcoming Wednesday, Mariucci breaks open his doors to face-to-face interviews with different players.

"As a coach, you'd like to get some things settled as quickly as you can."
- Steve Mariucci

Detroit scouts and coaches are also heading to the University of Miami for “Pro Day” in order to view other prospects. So, the Lions are keeping the gates of possibility open. Either way, they plan to sign some people.

In other words, Mariucci says "we don't feel like we're going to get left out. We feel as if we will sign somebody."

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Lions Updates

- from FOXSports.com

ACTION PLAN: If the team's free agent strategy is successful, the Lions could meet with less than a half-dozen players because they're targeting a small, select group of athletes. Because they'll likely re-sign most of their own free agents, Detroit is looking at five key positions: three starters and two backups. Most importantly, the Lions need to solidify their offensive line and find a quality left guard and right tackle (if McDougle, as expected, enters free agency). Detroit is on the verge of having an explosive offense, but it won't go anywhere without good blocking and protection. Because of other needs, the Lions won't be able to afford two high-priced linemen and will opt to spend most of their money at tackle. . . .

The most vital position on defense for Detroit is strong safety, and the Lions' No. 1 target is Donovin Darius, if he isn't assigned the franchise tag. The Lions aren't likely to give up anything in a trade because they value their draft picks too much. . . .

The two backup positions are important because of the potential of playing time. At receiver, where the Lions already have Roy Williams and Charles Rogers, the Lions are looking for an experienced player for three-receiver sets and as a solid backup because both Williams and Rogers have been banged up in their short careers. The Lions could surprise some people by going after players such as David Givens, Corey Bradford and David Patten. The quarterback position will immediately spark controversy because the Lions want to bring in a player who has the ability to beat out Joey Harrington for the starting job. Players who could be on Detroit's short list include Drew Brees, Kurt Warner and Kelly Holcomb. . . .

The Lions have already done an excellent job of re-signing their own free agents. Pro Bowl-caliber Shaun Rogers, who would've been tagged as a franchise player, signed a long-term deal the day before the regular season ended. The Lions also added key contributors such as linebacker Donte Curry and punter Nick Harris.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Roy Williams

Roy Williams, who has just completed his rookie season, is going to become an important part of the Lions’ offense. Playing as wide receiver, his stats for the previous year are as follows: 54 receptions, 817 yards, and 8 touchdowns. He is still a very youthful player.

This is Roy Williams’ first year out of college ball. He is blooming into a great player, but needs time to prove himself in the majors. The difference must be insane, going from just playing with many people who may or may not make it all the way to the pros to playing with men who know the game inside and out.

I still see potential in him and not only because of my burnt orange blood. He was put out most of the season with a broken ankle; surgery has not yet been decided upon. Williams will shine in this upcoming season.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

MHSAA Plays on a Much Better Field

After a 29 year tenure at the Pontiac Silverdome, the MHSAA (Michigan High School Athletics Association) with the assistance of the City of Detroit has decided to move the 2005 playoffs to Ford Field. Ford Field, which is home base for the Lions, is more than willing to accept this advance.

It is an advance because it is giving high school athletes the ability to play on the same field as the stars.

The expanse doesn’t end there. Not only will it host the MHSAA playoffs, but also the Mid-American Conference championship, the Motor City Bowl, the Detroit Football Classic, the 2005 Major League Baseball All Star game and the 2006 Super Bowl. I’m nicely jealous of these high school players. TAKE USE OF THE FIELD WHILE YOU CAN!!!

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Who Will be the Next Off. Coordinator.

From sports.yahoo.com:
The Lions have interviewed at least two more candidates -- Ted Tollner of the San Francisco 49ers and Mike McCarthy of the New Orleans Saints -- for their offensive coordinator position.

Coach Steve Mariucci is believed to have interviewed Tollner and McCarthy this week for the job left open when Sherman Lewis retired. Tollner and McCarthy were offensive coordinators this season.

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Earlier, Mariucci interviewed three of his own assistants -- running backs coach Tom Rathman, offensive line coach Pat Morris and quarterbacks coach Greg Olson -- for the job, but indicated he would prefer to keep those three as position coaches.

McCarthy, 41, has NFL coaching experience with Kansas City, Green Bay and New Orleans, where he has been the past five seasons. He is believed to be in line for an interview with the Jacksonville Jaguars today for a similar position.

Tollner, 64, was head coach at San Diego State and Southern Cal before moving to the NFL, where he has been an assistant with Buffalo, San Diego and the 49ers.

Both Tollner and McCarthy have experience with the West Coast offense.

By Curt Sylvester

Atlanta: Offensive tackle Todd Weiner and cornerback Kevin Mathis sat out practice on Thursday because of ailing ankles, leaving them questionable for the NFC championship game. While coach Jim Mora said both players "were a lot better," they skipped practice for the second day in a row. The coach is hopeful both will be able to practice today.

Indianapolis: Colts quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell was promoted to assistant head coach. Caldwell was the coach at Wake Forest in 1993-2000 and was on Colts coach Tony Dungy's staff at Tampa Bay in 2001. He came to Indianapolis with Dungy the next season.

Miami: New coach Nick Saban said he would consider taking back tailback Ricky Williams, whose abrupt retirement last July precipitated the Dolphins' fall to a 4-12 record. "The door is open, if that's a possibility," said Saban, the former LSU coach who signed a five-year, $22.5-million contract 2 1/2 weeks ago. "But a guy has to want to do this. It has to be important to him." Saban also said that he plans to hoard draft picks, something the Dolphins didn't do under former coach Dave Wannstedt. The team has the No. 2 pick in April, but it is without a choice in the second or sixth round because of trades.

Minnesota: Offensive line coach Steve Loney will gain offensive coordinator duties, replacing Scott Linehan, whom the Dolphins lured away with a three-year contract. The Vikings ranked second in the NFL in 2002, first in 2003 and fourth in 2004 in total offense.

Pittsburgh: Ben Roethlisberger is taking off the gloves. The rookie quarterback, who was scrutinized for using gloves during Saturday's subpar performance against the Jets, said he is going to try to play the AFC championship game barehanded. Roethlisberger started wearing gloves in high school to get a better feel for the ball, and he said he would continue to do so. But Roethlisberger, undefeated in 14 professional starts, said that his gloves Saturday were ill-fitting. And snow is in the forecast this weekend in Pittsburgh. "If it's wet, it makes it worse," he said. ... Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling told Fox Sports that he'll be rooting for the Steelers against the New England Patriots on Sunday. Schilling's dad grew up in western Pennsylvania, and Schilling wore Steelers jerseys during the baseball season.

San Francisco: Coach Mike Nolan, hired this week, said he plans to reach back into the 49ers' recent past on offense. After the 49ers spent two years running fired coach Dennis Erickson's hybrid schemes, Nolan anticipates a return to a stronger form of the West Coast offense, which originated with Bill Walsh and was used by former coach Steve Mariucci. Nolan -- referred to as "Mooch II" by one San Francisco paper -- also said he expects the 49ers (2-14 this season) to use the No. 1 overall draft pick, not trade it -- but only on a player who fits his vision for the franchise. "I learned that personnel is about more than a pretty girl who's 6-5, 240, and runs fast," Nolan said. "It's hard to have chemistry on a football team that you haven't built on the best character. Character is just as important, and we'll have that."

Saturday, January 08, 2005

End of the season, brings back bad memories

From sports.yahoo.com:
The Detroit Lions did in 2004 what they often have during their decades of futility since winning the 1957 NFL title.

Detroit teased its fans with some wins they didn't expect, and a handful of players showed flashes of promise for the future.

But by the end of the season, the Lions' record (6-10) was lackluster and their victories were overshadowed by several near-misses and a few blowouts.

``I look at the whole year as a huge, missed opportunity,'' Lions CEO Matt Millen said. ``We started OK, but finished really poorly. We got complacent, lost our sense of urgency and that led to losing to teams with less talent, and that's just an awful feeling.''

When the Lions were 4-2 in October, they were praised for turning it around after winning an NFL-low 10 games over the previous three seasons. When they lost eight of their last 10, they were regarded as the lowly Lions again.

``Even though we got off to a good start, we were winning without playing good football,'' Jeff Backus said. ``Then, we lost our sense of urgency and that really came back to bite us.''

Minnesota and St. Louis are both in the NFC playoffs despite 8-8 records. That's what really bothers the Lions, who wasted big leads in some games and missed opportunities to win others.

``It's a tough thing to handle,'' Joey Harrington said. ``The only thing you can do is use it for motivation for next year. We've gotten to that point where we're close. When we come back, it's going to be time to win.''

Harrington set career highs with 19 touchdowns, 3,047 yards and a 56.0 completion percentage and threw a career-low 12 interceptions. In his third NFL season, he was booed often at home and challenged regularly by coach Steve Mariucci.

``What he has developed is some thick skin,'' Mariucci said. ``I'm hard on Joey and he likes it that way. He's making progress.''

The Lions were determined to surround Harrington with help this season and they appeared to have succeeded with two first-round picks: receiver Roy Williams and running back Kevin Jones.

Williams had 54 receptions for 817 yards and eight TDs, all records for a Detroit rookie. With 1,133 yards rushing, Jones reached a milestone just Barry Sanders and Billy Sims did as Lions rookies. After an ankle injury slowed him early in the season, Jones ran for an NFL-high 825 yards over the final seven games.

When Detroit was struggling to score points, Eddie Drummond helped out with two TDs on punt returns and two on kickoff returns. Drummond was picked to play in the Pro Bowl, but likely will miss the game because of a shoulder injury.

On the other side of the ball, defensive tackle Shaun Rogers solidified himself as a star -- earning his first Pro Bowl invitation -- and was rewarded with a six-year contract last week.

``I'm glad we got Shaun's deal done because we can really build around him,'' Millen said.

With Rogers clogging up the middle and James Hall getting a career-high 11 1/2 sacks despite playing all year with a broken thumb, Detroit's defensive line was among the league's best.

Rookie linebacker Teddy Lehman had a solid season, playing a team-high 1,225 plays, and cornerback Dre' Bly made four interceptions, earning a second straight trip to the Pro Bowl.

``I've got a thousand reasons to be optimistic,'' Mariucci said. ``Yes, the record is disappointing, we all agree on that. What is encouraging as we go forward, and I have to keep reminding myself, half of our starters and half of this football team are players that are on their first contract, which means they're young.''

Through free agency and the draft, starting with the 10th overall pick, the Lions hope to add at least one safety, at least one quarterback, a receiver, a guard and a defensive lineman.

They would like to re-sign some of their free agents, but it might be difficult to bring back offensive tackle Stockar McDougle, who is unrestricted and could draw interest elsewhere.

Some have wondered how long Millen, who just completed his fourth season, will stick around to run the Lions when he could be making stress-free millions again as a TV analyst.

``I'm going to finish what I started,'' Millen said. ``And by finish, I mean win a Super Bowl. It will not be enough for me to just win more games, because everybody who does not win the Super Bowl is a failure in this league.''

It almost seems as if we have a curse. We have been struggling for years, and I think we are ready to see a new Lions team. It's no suprise Sherman Lewis retired when he did, but this will either hurt us badly or make us benefit greatly. All of that simply relies on who becomes the new offensive coordinator. Lets try to turn it around for next year, and get this curse out of the picture. GO LIONS!