Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

29 Nov 2005

Blame it on Joey

Joey Harrington, meet the underside of the bus. And Dre' Bly is driving.

Posted by: P. Ryan Wilson on 29 Nov 2005

57 comments, Last at 01 Dec 2005, 1:34pm by buddha

Comments

1
by Malene, cph, dk (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 9:20pm

wow... somebody finally took a swing at Millen and the Fords...

Well Jeff, you really should've known before you signed on. you know what they say, if it smells like Matt Millen...

2
by Al (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 9:23pm

Blame it on the stars that shine at night
Whatever you do
Don't put the blame on you
Blame it on Joey, yeah, yeah

3
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 9:46pm

Funny comment Ryan and so true. Not sure how much I agree with Bly's sentiments, but for the sake of competitiveness and sanity I hope that enough of a stink is made over the next few weeks (by both playes and fans) to make Millen's position untenable.

For some reason I feel as though Harrington will do well as a backup somewhere and I wish him well. He never really was put in a position to win in DET, IMO.

4
by Ruben (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 10:05pm

Does anyone else remember Draft Day '02? When Tags (or whomever) came out, and announced Harrington as the 3rd overall pick by the Lions, the director cut to the fans in Oregon...who immediately started to boo.

I agree with Becephalus; he'll find a good gig somewhere as a backup, and join the long line of first-rounders-turned-backups in the NFL today...Phoenix is nice in the winter... :-)

5
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 10:12pm

That "position to win" would be somewhere behind an NFL-caliber offensive line. So I completely agree with you, Bec.

You don't protect your QB, you don't give him a running game, your defense is inconsistant - and then its his fault you're losing.

I think nearly every team that has a top 5 pick should invest it on an offensive linemen or trade down and get multiple linemen - Almost all of the time these teams are losing because of protection issues.

Looking at DPAR, if you put Joey Harrington behind center in Chicago instead of Kyle Orton, they'd probably be the best team in the NFC.

6
by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 10:24pm

Chris, the Lions offensive line is almost exactly average in run and pass blocking according to the stats on this site. The Bears are 7 spots below them in pass blocking.

7
by Michael David Smith :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 11:45pm

The Lions' pass blocking numbers are average because Harrington throws the ball away when he feels pressure. I find it hard to believe that anyone who has watched the Lions this year could think their line is anything close to average -- there's a reason the line coach was fired, too.

8
by Erasmsu (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 11:46pm

The Lions OL last season featured 3 1st rounders (Backus, McDougale, and at the time the highest paid guard in Damien Woody), a 2nd rounder in Raiola, and a journeyman guard. This season it only features 2 (Backus and Woody), Raiola, a 6th rounder in Butler, and after free agent bust DeMuiling a decent LG in Kosier. Of course this is the same Lions team that drafted 3 1st round OT in a 3 year span (Gibson, McDougale, and Backus) none of which would be considered elite or even good OL currently.
Joey also had a 1000+ rusher who did most of it in the final 8 weeks of the season (and Joey did jackshit with the emergence of a run game) and in 2002 he had a running game with James Stewart who averaged 4.4 YPC and had over 1000 yards in 14 games.
Joey has had plenty of excuses and sometimes they were correct, a lack of a go-to WR his 1st 2 seasons, no running game his 2nd season, the OL has been average this season, and so on. What has been consistent has been Joey's bad play, or rather what has been consistent has been Joey's inconsistency in being a good QB. Millen really dropped the ball by not signing a solid #1/2 vet WR for Harrington to grow with (and that does not mean Hakim, Schroder, Street, or Kevin Johnson...), Eli has been helped by having solid NFL veterans in Toomer, Burress, Shockey, and Barber on the team. Big Ben has been helped by having Ward, Burress last season, and a great OL (that includes Jeff Hartings, a guy Millen let leave).

I like Joey, I liked him when he played for Oregon. I never thought he was worth the 3rd pick in a NFL draft, but I felt he could be a solid QB. Some team is going to get him, deprogram for his robotic state he is now and make him into a serviceable QB.

9
by cthoover (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 11:46pm

It's like Dre' Bly & I have mindmelded on this one.

10
by Michael David Smith :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 12:02am

I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me why, if it's all Harrington's fault, the Lions have averaged 11 points in the three games with Garcia at quarterback.

11
by Drew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 12:56am

Count me among those that think Joey Harrington is not the biggest problem in Detroit. I also see an interesting parallel between this and the TO/McNabb situation. This is every bit as inflammatory as anything TO said about McNabb. I'd go so far as to say this could hurt the Lions' chances of making the Super Bowl.

Garcia's comments are risky. And I agree with him 100%.

12
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 1:51am

That's Garcia most accurate strike this year. Jeff, welcome to Detroit. The trash can is over there - feel free to throw up in it or leave what's left of your career in it. It's amazing how many players come to Detroit and end up commenting on how they just can't believe the losing ...

By the way, we're still going to be "treated" to the Lions on Sunday Night Football. Against the Packers. Can the universe tolerate those commentators with those teams, or will it implode? Not to mention it's the end of a horrid four-week run: KC-Hou, NO-NYJ, a reprieve with Oak-SD, and then Det-GB.

P.S. The black jerseys don't help.

13
by Zac (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 2:38am

People are being so tough on John Joseph Harrington Jr. I expect him to be out of football next year.

14
by Sean (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 4:36am

I wasn't a Harrington fan when he came out of Oregon. I thought he would be decent, a Chris Chandler type player, but not a guy worthy of going #3 overall. That said, he has had some miserable luck. He's never been put in the sort of offense that fit his skill set, and for all the talk about the three first round receivers, I could count on one hand the number of games he's had where even two of those guys have been in the lineup at the same time. Harrington has gone from overvalued to undervalued in the span of a few years. I guarantee you that Mike Martz could take the guy and be productive with him- it's the perfect offense for him, and Martz has been very successful at developing quarterbacks.

As a Jets fan, I'd much rather take a sniff at Harrington after he gets released than trade for Philip Rivers, and I suspect there are several teams (Baltimore and Miami come to mind) who will be paying close attention to what Detroit does with Joey Heisman.

15
by lafcadio (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 6:49am

Can Garcia be fined ? How can Joey accept these remarks ? The only solution for him would be to kick Bly's butt ! But of course, it won't happen. Bly is just a bully. Am I the only one to think that ? (I never read Harrington complain, did he ? )

16
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 6:50am

The problem in Detroit is that Matt Millen listens too much to Mel Kiper.

"I drafted 3 receivers in the top 10! I must have the best receiving corps in the NFL! Mel Kiper even says so!"

Newsflash, Millen... it's like I've always said. Freddie Mitchell. David Terrell. A high draft pick does not necessarily equate to a great receiver. Roy has been good, Mike has been a rookie, and Rodgers has been offensive. That's not a playoff-caliber WR corps right there.

I think this is going to be a good offseason for reclamation QBs. Harrington, Carr, Boller... three guys taken high with little-to-no NFL success, and a pretty strong arguement that the lack of success has more to do with the position they were put in than it with anything they did or did not do. It's like Denver showed with Plummer- just because they sucked on a sucky team doesn't mean they'll suck on a good one.

17
by Noble (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 8:00am

I agree with MDS. Garcia didn't do much/any/at all better than Harrington when he played. How the heck is he a savior?

18
by princeton73 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 9:52am

what did Millen say when he fired Mooch?

he said "failure to develop young talent"

what he meant was: "I made the right draft picks; he just didn't coach 'em up"

19
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 10:19am

Dre Bly is a fine cornerback with an uncanny ability to anticipate the intermediate pass but as an analyst he's, well, really bad.

Anyone that thinks Garcia was going to lead the Lions to a better record and save Mooch's bacon hasn't seen Garcia play in at least two years. Jeff was bad (and disruptive) in Cleveland, he was absolutely terrible in preseason with Detroit (so bad that lots of Lions fans I know thought he shouldn't even have made the roster), and has done nothing in his chances in the regular season.

In addition, whining about injuries (even if they had actually made a difference) isn't a particularly good sign. BTW, at this point in his career, I think it's pretty likely that Garcia's injury problems are chronic.

20
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 10:30am

Re: 16

Agree that Harrington and Carr (though I'm not sure he'll be moving) both have a good chance to improve considerably with a change of scenery. Not so sure about Boller. He's had pretty good support (running game, O-line, Heap) except for some mediocore wideouts. But he may not be leaving either unless Billick gets canned.

21
by Brian (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 10:51am

It's interesting that both DeMulling and Pollard have been busts there even though they were great in Indy. Maybe something in the water?

22
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 11:25am

I just glanced at the QB ratings on this site, and I've seen some improvement by Harrington year over year. I've watched the Lions play at least one game a year, and he doesn't look that bad. That team, however, is not good. Millen needs to go, and Harrington needs to be in a better situation. Oh, well.

23
by Alan P (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 11:53am

#12 - the SNF announcers will find a way to pump up both teams. These are the same announcers who, this past week, said Haslett should be coach of the year.

They will applaud Matt Millen for having the guts to fire a well known coach mid-season, then pump up Millen for Executive of the Year.

24
by andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 12:17pm

I think its time for someone to hand Matt Millen a violin.

25
by Kevo (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 12:26pm

Re: 2
I prefer:

Blame it on Joey
Don't blame it on Steve
It's Matt Millen's fault
But they need somebody to burn

26
by Nate (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 12:33pm

Sean et al:
I hear a lot that Joey is not an offense that fits his "skill set." What kind of offense fits his skill set? He seems to be good at one thing, and that's dumping it off to his safety valve at the slightest hint of pressure.

27
by Michael David Smith :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 12:57pm

Mawbrew is exactly right that Bly is a hell of a player and an idiot as an analyst. It's amazing how guys who do this for a living can be so bad at seeing the relative strengths and weaknesses of players. It's been years since Garcia was any good. Look how much better Kelly Holcomb was in Cleveland last year. Look how much better Tim Rattay was in San Francisco the year before. I would have loved to have seen Garcia in a Lions uniform five years ago, but it would be stupid for them to even consider bringing him back for 2006.

Personally, I want to see Orlovsky start a game. The season has gone to hell already. Why not see if the quarterback they drafted has any chance of being the starter next year?

28
by HLF (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 12:57pm

This is the same old song and dance -- it's never the highly drafted QB's fault, it's always the system, or the WRs (a joke of an excuse), or the OL (occasionally some truth to that), or the RBs, but always there are mitigating circumstances and excuses. However, when an NFL quality QB is put into that same circumstance, suddenly the line starts blocking better, the WRs start playing better, etc...

When Hasselback (M.) lost all his WRs (Robinson cut, the rest with injuries), he seemed to be able to move the ball through the air and downfield occasionally with practice squad or unheard of guys. Why can't Joey? When Brady came in for Bledsloe, was the OL suddenly changed too?

It's a reversal mostly of cause and effect -- analogous to those that say a team wins when their back rushes for more than 100yds. The OL, WRs, and RBs are better when the QB is an NFL level starter, and when he's not, for whatever reason, those other positions all perform more poorly.

In Detroit it's difficult to have any baseline for comparason, as they haven't had an even arguable NFL level starting QB in a quarter century.

I'll take any money you want to lay that Harrington doesn't become a legitimate NFL starter elsewhere (figuratively, as I don't know any of you in real life).

BTW, notice how folks are saying more or less the same things about Carr and Boller too? Sure, it's the system(s), it's not that none of them have ever performed at an NFL level. To the best of my knowlege, Drew Brees is the only QB that's ever sucked for a few years running and then suddenly played at a moderate to high level later. High picks seem to always have apologists, but low picks or undrafted players get one serious shot at most. Is there any chance Harrington is better than Kitna, for example?

I like mocking him with that Concrete Blonde song "Joey" with minor lyric modifications..

Hopeless Lions Fan,
Seattle

29
by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 1:10pm

I think Bly has a point. If the Lions QB was better Mooch (I love that name) would still have a job. It doesn't really matter that he's moderately delusional in thinking that Garcia is a great QB anymore, or whether Harrington is bad because of the system (he's not in my opinion, he just doesn't get it). If Peyton Manning was QB in Detroit Mooch would still be working. Hell, Marty Morninhweg (i'm not even gonna hope that's spelt right) would still be working, and Matt Millen would be hailed as a great general manager getting Peyton all those weapons etc.

Of course, saying that is a lot like saying if your auntie had balls she'd be your uncle. It's just not a fact, so deal with it. Yeah, Dre, if Joey was awesome Mooch would still be your coach, but he ain't.

Also, why Matt Millen appointed Dick Jauron interim coach? I can only think of 2 reasons: 1.) He wants to see how much worse it could be. 2.) He wants to get fired.

Oh yeah. 3.) He already fired anyone else who could do it.

Any idea who people have pegged for the next proper Head Coach of the Lions? Its gotta be someone offensive. I wouldn't actually be surprised to see Mike Martz there if the Rams can him (which seems likely IMO). Then the Rams can get the Bears DC (who's name escapes me at the moment) as their Head Coach next year. Then hopefully it works out for everyone: Lions get an offense, Rams get a defence, and the Rams front office and ownership get to be nasty to Martz.

30
by Murr (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 1:20pm

I heard Mike & Mike talking about this on the radio this morning, and two points they made drove me insane:

1) "Dre Bly *cannot* say this about his QB." Oh, really? So, when a player says nothing but cliches ("We're a good team, we just need to stop making mistakes, blah blah"), you criticize him for it. But, when he actually speaks his mind and gives his honest opinion, you *crush* him for it. Plus, let's face it - most of what he said was spot on: Harrington *is* a disappointment.

2) "This is just as bad as what TO did." Umm, no. If Bly had spent the last 6 months doing everything he could to disrupt the team, and *then* said this comment: yes, it's equivalent. But, TO's comment about Favre was just the last item on a very long list.

31
by Michael David Smith :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 1:28pm

HLF, why are the receivers "a joke of an excuse"? They've been terrible. Charles Rogers has taken up more cap space than Harrington and contributed less to the team than Harrington, so I fail to see why he shouldn't get more criticism than Harrington.

32
by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 1:40pm

"The Lions’ pass blocking numbers are average because Harrington throws the ball away when he feels pressure. I find it hard to believe that anyone who has watched the Lions this year could think their line is anything close to average — there’s a reason the line coach was fired, too."

Well, the Lions suck, so who cares? ;)

But seriously, what's the point of the pass blocking stats then? And why should I take firing the line coach to mean anything when according to you (and a lot of other Lions fans), nearly everything Millen does is wrong? Maybe we can develop a PAR type rating for GM's and then we'll know. Was firing the line coach a positive enough decision to counteract say, drafting Mike Williams? Only Millen adjusted decision making above normality (MADMAN) can tell us!

33
by buddha (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 1:58pm

There is so much blame to go around in Detroit it's silly to put it all on just one guy.

Harrington's not good? Du'h. Thanks Dre.

But did Harrington give up a 99 yard drive to Kyle Orton and the Chicago Bears? Did Harrington give up a game winning drive to Chris freakin' Weinke and the Carolina Panthers? Did Harrington get burned for two long Brian Grise touchdown passes?

The Detroit defense has been better this year, better than I expected. But they've failed miserably when the chips were down. And Bly was a part of those failures. Not to mention that Bly was terrible last year (but he did pick it up this year).

No criticism of the Lions could be complete without talking about the Three Divas of Rogers and the Williams sisters. What a bunch of pansies. Rogers is an idiot who's pretty much thrown his career away (Oh Lord, please let the Lions win their grievance and make Rogers return $10 million.) Roy Williams is the biggest prima donna in the League. "Don't yell at me! I'M Roy Williams! Didn't you see my highlight reel? I'm awesome. Look, the ball sticks to my hads. Ha ha. Oh wait, don't hit me, ouch!" Mike Williams still gets a pass because he's a rookie.

But in the very end, all of the blame -- ALL of the blame -- lies with Millen. This is his team. These are his hires. This isn't baseball, it doesn't take years to build up a system of talent. This is football, the system is designed for everyone to be average. And the Lions have been terrible for his entire reign.

Only in an organization run by William Clay Ford could incompetence be rewarded so well. What's Daryl Rogers doing these days? Probably wondering what Millen has to do to get fired around here...

34
by EJP (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 1:59pm

I remember when the Lions started Mike McMahon for a couple games a few years ago. As a Packers fan, I particularly remember his performance in a Thanksgiving Day game against the Pack. I thought he played very well, and I feared he might become the starter and make the Lions competitive. McMahon is probably the best QB to have been in the Lions system over the last 8 years.

35
by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 2:06pm

"McMahon is probably the best QB to have been in the Lions system over the last 8 years."

The moment you realise this is the moment you realise the Lions problems.

36
by Michael David Smith :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 2:19pm

Buddha has it exactly right. Let me pose a three-part Q&A:

Q. Has Harrington been good this year?
A. No. Of course not.

Q. Is Harrington Detroit's only problem?
A. No, and if you think he is, as Dre Bly apparently does, you're an idiot. The defense is mediocre, the special teams is awful, and the offense plays as badly without Harrington as it does with him.

Q. Is Harrington Detroit's biggest problem?
A. No. Matt Millen and the owner who won't fire him are.

37
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 3:03pm

Re: 28

HLF -

I can think of several QB's that were 'disappointments' early in their career and came up big with other teams. Steve Young, Vinny T., Jim Plunket (sp?) come to mind quickly and I think I could probably come up with 4X that many with some more time.

38
by Sean (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 5:24pm

Re 26: I've always thought Harrington would fit best in the Mike Martz/Al Saunders offense, where he is attacking the field vertically rather than horizontally. He didn't strike me as the kind of quarterback who would have the mobility you want for a WCO quarterback, but I thought in a system predicated on 5-7 step drops and a healthy dose of play action that he could do well.

39
by Nate (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 5:49pm

Thanks for the response Sean.
Also: "The moment you realise [McMahon is probably the best QB to have been in the Lions system over the last 8 years] is the moment you realise the Lions problems. "
I think the Bears and Lions share that curse. The best Bears QB since Erik Kramer (himself a Detroit castoff) was Jim Miller. The second best? Who knows, but it's ugly. It could be Orton, which says a lot about the Bears skill in handling the QB position.

40
by tom (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 5:58pm

re: 35 a friend made a pretty similar comment to me the other day when the Eagles started him. When your new starting quarterback wasn't good enough for Detroit, that's not really a good sign! I have to say, McMahon hasn't been trusted with much by Andy Reid so far.

41
by HLF (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 6:03pm

MDS -- re#31, because by definition if a QB isn't able to get the ball downfield accurately, a WR has little to no ability to succeed or excell. A quality NFL QB, capable of accurate throws to most parts of the field (not just dump offs) makes it possible for WRs to shine, and the lack of one makes it difficult to impossible.

Rather than not judging Harrington until he gets better WRs, we should be not judging the WRs until they get an NFL QB throwing to them.

Hopeless Lions Fan,
Seattle

42
by HLF (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 6:11pm

Just to add to #41, Hasselback did fine this year while all his starting WRs were out -- his first four WRs from last year's team. Is he better off with the first team WRs? Sure. Do you need first team WRs to look like an NFL quality starter? Not that I've seen yet...

43
by charles (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 7:02pm

i think the lesson hear is that when detroit is shown on national t.v., somebody's job will be on the line the next day. remember the preseason game against the rams earlier this year? Remember the articles and comments about the lions then. Fast forward to the next time the lions are on national t.v., the thanksgiving game, the same exact thing happened. And now i hear about the lions being on sunday night.

44
by Rob (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 7:34pm

Re #42:
HLF, since you've brought up Hasselbeck's success with his backup WRs twice here, I'd just like to point out that Seattle has the NFL's leading rusher and arguably the best OL in the league.

And besides, Seattle's starting WRs have been maligned for not living up to expectations themselves, so it's not entirely surprising that Hasselbeck had some good performaces without them.

45
by andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 7:35pm

Sigh, now on Around the Horn (why do I watch that show) everyone mentioned how the Lions haven't won a playoff game since the 50's... I know its not much, but beating that up and coming Dallas team in 1991 still counted for something...

46
by HLF (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 8:48pm

It's chicken and egg. Rob, it's opinion, and you're entitle to yours, but if you think Shawn ("they stabbed me in the back") Alexander would be considered so outstanding if the guy handing him the ball didn't/couldn't complete passes downfield regularly.

Maybe Kevin Jones "underachieves", and maybe he has more defenders able to watch him more closely and pursue him with less pause than he'd have if he had a non-Mirer like QB handing him the ball.

Certainly multiple causes are likely to at least make some contribution to this much suckitude, but ask yourself what the likely effects on other positions (OL, RB, WR, and even defense) would "theoretically" be if you had a really really crappy QB. Then ask yourself if you've seen a team in new USFL unis that resembles that theoretical construct.

Cheers,

Hopeless Lions Fan,
Seattle

47
by HLF (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 8:49pm

Please change "if you think" to "do you think" (smile).

48
by Joe (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 9:55pm

It's your team, but I've gotta say I think you're missing the forest for the trees, HLF.

Harrington's not great, no question there. But, unlike MDS, I actually think Garcia has some gas left in the tank (and apparently Jon Gruden thought so, too, because he almost signed Garcia before he went to Cleveland). The Lions are just as terrible with Garcia at QB, even though he has all the following going for him that Harrington lacks: 1) He's proven in the past that he can play well in the NFL, 2) He has a stronger arm, 3) He has more experience, and 4) He has better mobility...probably even when he's injured.

For the "Harrington's the reason we suck" argument to hold water, they'd have to play better without him. They don't.

I rarely see the Lions, but the Thanksgiving game told me volumes about how the team was being coached and run. Harrington seemed to fairly on target (I seem to remember at least two drops and I think he was 6 of 13 or something like that) and was being hammered by the pass rush. His one INT was because a receiver fell down and resulted in no points the other way. Yet, he gets yanked for a guy Mooch said was too hurt to play. I can't imagine a guy succeeding in such a disfunctional environment with so many mixed signals being sent.

49
by Michael David Smith :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 2:50am

Just saw Troy Aikman on PTI. He's an analyst I respect a lot, and he just did the Lions' Thanksgiving game. His basic assessment meshes with what I think: Harrington hasn't played well, but there are many other problems on the Lions, and Dre Bly might want to consider that the defense hasn't exactly made anyone forget the '85 Bears.

50
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 3:26am

Re #28: To the best of my knowlege, Drew Brees is the only QB that’s ever sucked for a few years running and then suddenly played at a moderate to high level later.

Kitna improved from 30th in DVOA, to 17th in DVOA, to 11th in DVOA. Rich Gannon bounced around for years and suddenly turned into a league MVP when he found the right offense. Jake Plummer was BRUTAL for long stretches in Arizona, but according to DVOA, the only QBs who have been better over the past 2 1/2 seasons have been Manning and Brady. Brad Johnson went from 16th in DVOA in 2001 to 4th in DVOA in 2002 with nothing more than the addition of a capable offense-minded head coach.

Also, add Patrick Ramsey to the list of reclamation QBs that could catch fire in a different system. I forgot about him, but I've always been a big Patrick Ramsey fan.

51
by Michael David Smith :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 8:09am

"low picks or undrafted players get one serious shot at most. Is there any chance Harrington is better than Kitna, for example?"

Of course there is. In case you haven't noticed, Kitna was undrafted, and he got more than one shot. Trent Green has gotten multiple opportunities. Kerry Collins went from the NFC Championship with Carolina to everyone calling him a bust to the Super Bowl with the Giants. Tommy Maddox went from first-round pick to insurance salesman to XFL to very good quarterback with the Steelers. Look how many chances Brad Johnson has gotten. The NFL is full of quarterbacks like Harrington who people thought sucked until he played for the right team.

I agree completely with Kibbles. Saying a guy is a bad player because he hasn't succeeded with the worst franchise in the league is absurd.

52
by Scott C (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 10:35am

Take a look at Dr Z's comment on the Lions in this weeks SI Power rankings. It's on this subject.

53
by Playit (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 10:49am

I'd take Ramsey or Carr in Dallas next year. We could use a project that isn't still trying to hang up the glove and learn how to throw a football again.

I think Joey will be better at his next stop too, I just don't think he will ever be a Bill Parcell's QB.

54
by Michael David Smith :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 11:50am

This is what Dr. Z said:

"First series on Thanksgiving Day -- Harrington moves the team in sprightly fashion from his own 17 to the Atlanta 49. Roy Williams falls down, running his pattern resulting in a pick. Second series ends with a Shawn Bryson fumble. Third series features a dropped pass by Williams and 15 yards in penalties. Fourth series, Harrington moves the team from his own 42 to the Atlanta 29, and then the gates of hell open up and the sackers come pouring through. And then Joey is out of there, giving way to a limping Jeff Garcia who should not be subjecting his shattered body to an NFL pass rush. Harrington at least looks like a professional QB."

I want to be clear about why I'm coming across like I'm defending Harrington. My point isn't that Harrington is some Hall of Fame quarterback. My point is that a lot of Lions fans seem to be content with making Harrington the fall guy, and that's going to be a huge problem. Next year, when the Lions are 3-8 and Harrington is warming the bench in Oakland, those fans are finally going to realize that Harrington wasn't the only problem. I just want them to realize it now.

55
by HLF (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 12:30pm

MDS,

I've never even implied Harrington is the root of their problems. I've said WCF is problem #1, Millen is problem #2, and both are more or less insurmountable (hence the Hopeless in my name so long as they're there).

However, it's the apologetics for Harrington that I was and do object to. And, human nature being what it is, his apologists will only remember their defense of him if they turn out to be right (big smile). I'm likely bad at that too. I have nothing at all against Harrington, and it would be fine with me if you all were right about him. We'll see...

56
by Michael David Smith :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 12:40pm

OK, then we agree. Bly says Harrington is the root of their problems, and he's wrong.

So am I the only Lions fan who doesn't even feel like rooting for the team for the rest of the year? I actually think the worst thing that could happen would be for them to be just good enough over the last five games for Millen to think he's just a player or two away.

57
by buddha (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 1:34pm

So am I the only Lions fan who doesn’t even feel like rooting for the team for the rest of the year?

I've felt like that too many times over the past 33 years.

That being said, part of me hopes that the new guys can turn it around and part of me hopes they lose all the rest of their games. One the one hand, I'd like to think there is a solid enough talent base there and that the problems were with the conservative and mind boggling (Ummmm...Kevin Jones is good, you should play him) play calling of the Mooch regime. So I'd like to see them do well and give me a little hope for next year. And it's nice when my team is competitive.

On the other hand, if they do well, then they'll probably hire Jauron. Now, don't get me wrong, I like Dick Jauron and I guess I wouldn't be TOO upset if he got the job (I know, I know, he failed in Chicago, but I think that had more to do with bad timing and then a GM who hated his guts and couldn't wait to run him out of town), but there's still part of me that thinks if they go 0-5 the Fords will clean house and fire Millen.

But that's assuming the Fords are rational owners who know what they're doing....

...

...

Ok. I just got back up off the floor after laughing so hard at my last statement.

This franchise is hopeless. At this point my NFL watching consists of rooting for former Michigan players to do well.