Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

24 Oct 2005

Good Enough

Jeff Garcia and Steve Mariucci are together again, which means that Joey Harrington is currently out of a job. But now what? At 35, Garcia's obviously not the long-term answer, so what do the Lions do going forward? Trade Harrington? Give Orlovsky a chance to win the job in 2006? Draft another QB?

In the meantime, all Detroit needs to do is go 8-8 and they'll probably win the division. And from some of the comments in this article you get the impression that Lions players feel they have a much better chance of getting to the playoffs with Garcia instead of Harrington.

Posted by: P. Ryan Wilson on 24 Oct 2005

21 comments, Last at 25 Oct 2005, 11:26am by JonL


by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 10:40am

Wow, when you're this thrilled about beating Cleveland...

by JonL (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 10:42am

Isn't calling Reuben Droughns a "former Lions running back" a bit of a stretch? Under those circumstances, I suppose you could call Matt Hasselbeck a "former Packers quarterback." Technically true, but not really.

by MDS (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 10:48am

Why shouldn't we call Reuben Droughns a former Lions running back? He was drafted by Detroit and spent his first two years in the league in Detroit. I don't understand your objection.

Back to the topic of the article, Garcia was definitely better than Harrington has been, but we shouldn't get too excited just yet. I count six serious clock management mistakes -- three early timeouts, two delay of games, and the inability to spike the ball at the end of the first half. With Kevin Johnson out for the season, the Lions' receiving corps is awful. I don't know how long Dre Bly and Shaun Rogers are out, but those are their two best defensive players. I'm not at all confident that they can go 8-8.

by B (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 10:51am

"Don't get me wrong. I love Joey. He's a great guy. But Jeff, he's 35 years old. He's been around the block. He's got something about him. He definitely helped us out today."

-Is this the Football equivalent of the "It's not you, it's me" speech?

by JonL (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 11:49am

I guess it's not really a rational objection, I guess the point was that most people know him as the former Browns running back. But in the context of the article, calling him a former Lions running back makes sense. So I'm an idiot, and let's just leave it at that.

by tom (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 11:52am

would that then extend to trading him to a divisonal rival, and hoping they see a lot of him in future?

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 12:12pm

Wow, when you’re this thrilled about beating Cleveland ...

... your standards are really low, which would be correct. When the Cardinals and Saints have won playoff games more recently than you have, you tend to set the bar a little lower.

by Peter (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 12:32pm

You know what, I'm sick of people dissing the NFC North.

Their combined record is the worst, but only a half game worse than the AFC East.

Their matches not played in division :

Detroit : Loss to 5-1 team by 4 points - Puts 35 points on 3rd best D in the league - Loss by 1 to 4-2 team and preseason contender. - Wins in Dawg Pound.
Chicago : Loss by 2 to 4-2 team (shoots itself in the foot with 3 false starts at the end) - Rookie throws 5 INTS in loss to 5-2 team - Concedes two TDs in last 4 minutes (rookie FS mistake on the 1st) - Proves itself a top D against Ravens.
Green Bay : Loss by 2 - Loss by 1 - Loss by 3 - Win by 49

Apart from Minnesota (and they can probably blame Culpeppers early season form) the rest of the NFC North seems to be either losing close games or killing themselves with untimely mistakes. The 3 teams above were 0-6 in games decided by 4 points or less in the first 6 weeks of the season against non divisional opponents. That's the kind of trend that doesn't last.

The team that will win the NFC North won't be 8-8 or worse. They may be 9-7, but they won't be 8-8.

It's trendy to diss the NFC North right now. But by the end of the season they may not be the worst division in the league. It's just easy to take a shot at them because their star players are misfiring. All the teams are average. None are good, but none are bad.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 1:34pm

Wins in Dawg Pound.

Uh, this is a challenge? Did you forget that Cleveland isn't a good team this year?

But by the end of the season they may not be the worst division in the league. It’s just easy to take a shot at them because their star players are misfiring. All the teams are average. None are good, but none are bad.

Care to stick any more excuses or caveats in there?

The NFC North has just been playing awful football, with the exception of Chicago, who only occasionally plays awful football due to a terrible offense. The only team Detroit beat convincingly was Baltimore, which also looks utterly awful this year, with a wretched offense (which turned the ball over 5 times) and a now-mediocre defense (top 3? maybe last year). As for Green Bay? Yah, I'm not gonna be convinced by a pounding of the Saints, the NFL's most schizophrenic team. And Minnesota is just awful.

by Alan P (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 1:35pm

#8 - As you said the three NFC North teams outside of the god-awful Vikes are 0-6 against non-divisional opponents. You can come up with reasons/excuses, but as the Tuna says, you are what your record says you are.

And for now the record of the NFC North says "Awful".

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 1:52pm

This was a truly ugly game. It looks like any wins the Lions get the rest of the way will be similar.

by MDS (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 2:02pm

Mawbrew, in your mind is there a difference between an ugly game and a well-played defensive game? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying either team is good, but I didn’t see anything ugly about it, unless you think the defense outplaying the offense is inherently ugly.

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 2:08pm

The Lions' offense wasn't as efficient as it should have been, but at least Garcia put up pretty good numbers. I'll be interested to see his DPAR for this week.

I disagree with Parcells' assertion, but if DVOA says we're 15th, 22nd, 26th, and 30th, I can't say we're any better than the NFC West, and certainly nowhere near the AFC West.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 2:18pm

Incidentally, I think MDS is right. The Cleveland/Detroit game is probably the best football game I've seen involving Detroit this year, and I've actually seen all but last week's, I think. (No, I wasn't impressed by the win over the Ravens.)

I still think Chicago takes the division, as they've got one unit that hasn't flaked out completely yet. You can't say that about the Packers, Vikings, or Lions. Half a team is good enough to go 8-8 or better.

by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 2:40pm

Re: #8

Peter made me look at numbers, and I found this as records outside division:
AFC East: 7-12
AFC North: 10-9
AFC South: 9-9
AFC West: 10-8

NFC East: 13-6
NFC North: 5-11
NFC South: 13-8
NFC West: 6-10

What does that tell us? Not a ton, tough the AFC East is reverting to AFC Least status. And that the NFC South is impressive.

Of course, this all depends on the individual teams they face, but it's interesting.

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 3:02pm

Re: 12

Yes, there is a difference in my view. I wouldn't characterize this as a well-played defensive game. The defenses certainly outplayed the offesnses but, IMO, that was less a function of good play and more a function of just hanging around and waiting for the other side to screw up. Drough's fumbled pitch, Bryant's attempted catch with his facemask, foolish penalties, inability to get plays run without having to call timeout, etc. These sorts of mistakes aren't uncommon, but teams like these two can't afford them because they aren't good enough to overcome them.

In short, the defenses, IMO, didn't dictate the game, the offenses just self destructed.

Re: 14

I think the Chicago/Detroit game is a nice contrast. The Bears defense did dominate that one.

by BlueStarDude (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 3:20pm

re: #15: "... the AFC East is reverting to AFC Least status. And that the NFC South is impressive."

Interesting, these two divisions are playing each other. The NFC South is also playing the NFC North - not much challenge there. The NFC East is going against the AFC West and the NFC West (which at least has one good team) - which makes their 13-6 record more impressive than the NFC South's 13-8.

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 8:06pm

If your record says what you are, then how is 3-3 "awful"? It's "mediocre," no? There is "awful" in the North (GB), but I don't think you can characterize the division that way, at least not just yet.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 9:38pm

The average of "mediocre, mediocre, bad, and awful" is "awful." For comparison, the average of "good, mediocre, mediocre, and awful" is "mediocre." That's a good synopsis of the NFC West right now.

by PerlStalker (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2005 - 1:58am

re 5: Most people know Droughns as a former Broncos running back, but your point still stands.

by JonL (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2005 - 11:26am

RE: #20

I actually woke up last night realizing what I had said. See my last sentence.