Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

03 Oct 2005

Morning After: Questions Continue to Surround Harrington

Someone asked us to start linking all of Len Pasquarelli's Morning After columns in Extra Points, so who are we to say no? On the other hand, I don't think Morning After is anywhere near as good as Tip Sheet on Fridays, because Morning After is a lot less reporting (Pasquarelli's strong suit) and a lot more opinion (not, shall we say, his strong suit).

Today, Pasquarelli broaches the idea that maybe the other players in Detroit, not just Joey Harrington, deserve some blame for that team's troubles. Also, Josh McCown is swell, Houston is going to draft an offensive tackle next year -- really! -- and New England's Week 3 victory over Pittsburgh never happened. The Patriots are doomed. Doomed!

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 03 Oct 2005

37 comments, Last at 06 Oct 2005, 2:24pm by cmm3


by rich (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 3:05pm

I kinda think that Joey may not be the problem. From what I saw, and I've only seen 2 or 3 lions games, he seems to be getting NO time whatsoever. We've all seen the difference getting and extra second can have on a QB.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 3:19pm


I really agree with you. Len's on the happy juice with this one. Josh McCown as a starter somewhere? What?! If McCown's your starter, throw in the season towel already.

McCown's virtually the definition of "replacement player". He's a decent backup, but if you grab him for a starter, you're nuts.

And I can't figure out why he's defending that replay - heck, not just defending it, but placing it on a pedestal. If you want to say "well, it's just one play" fine, but it's not an "excellent call." Did it show indisputable video evidence? No, otherwise people wouldn't be disputing it.

by princeton73 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 3:22pm

Josh McCown as a starter somewhere? What?! If McCown’s your starter, throw in the season towel already.

good NFL rule-of-thumb:

ignore anything that happens in Mexico City

by B (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 3:26pm

At least he's better than Kurt Warner. Can we start linking to the Friday Tip Sheet as well, since it's Len's strong suit?

by OMO (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 3:28pm

Amen B.

I would prefer links to Lenny over Petey King any day of the week.

by rich (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 3:28pm


He was better than Warner against the 49's "pass defence". The same pass defence thats now given up roughly 1500 yards passing in 4 games.

by David (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 3:31pm

Did Len just say that a good passing day against the 49ers is a better indicator of McCown's ability than the whole of last season?

by Jason (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 3:33pm

I know Everyone is focusing on the overturned 2nd Down play, but did anyone see what happened on 3rd and 4th Down? On both plays Harrington pretty much threw the ball out of bounds. How can a QB on 4th and Goal on the last play of the Game throw an uncatchable pass. At the very least on 4th down he should have thrown a floater into the middle of the endzone if nobody was open and atleast hope for a lucky catch/deflection. By throwing it out of bounds you have ZERO chance

by B (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 3:45pm

Compare how McCown did against the 49ers "defense" to how Warner did against the Rams "defense", and it's clear that McCown is an improvement, even if it only means getting back to zero. Of course, what the Cardinals really need is a legit starting QB, but the only place they can find one of those is the draft.

by Aaron (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 3:54pm

The problem with Len's Friday article is that now 90% of it is Insider content. Do people want me linking to something that most of you can't read?

by princeton73 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 3:56pm

Do people want me linking to something that most of you can’t read?

don't worry--most of us can't read anyway

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 4:19pm

I don't know how good a QB McCown may end up becoming, but I do know that the guy hasn't gotten nearly the organizational support that some other young QBs (including Harrington) have had. McCown still hasn't started his 20th game yet. I think the guy could still develop into a decent QB, but maybe not with Arizona.

by TomC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 4:28pm

I'd be really insulted by that last comment, if I could read it.

by Carl (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 4:33pm

Free the Len!

This is why I like Mr. P over Mr. K and Mr. E:

"If the Lions' management ran its day-job business with the seeming dearth of financial acumen that it has exercised with the supposed offensive playmakers brought to the Lions in the last four seasons, there would be precious few Ford-truck guys left in the world."

As much as I admire the magazine work of Peter King, I can't imagine him writing such a rough, candid and meaningful graf as that about an owner/ front office source.

Easterbrook wouldn't understand it. He would substitute something about a "hot" cheerleader, then link to a photograph that showed some lady who really wasn't all that hot.

Pasquarelli understands the business of football, and he's never been afraid to point out some real outliers who don't measure up.

I still believe Detroit will win this division, but it won't be because of a brilliant front office. Rather, it will be because of some pretty piss-poor decisions prior to the season from Green Bay (what defensive line issues?) and Minnesota (what offensive line issues? Buy another CB!) and key injuries to the Bears.

This is not to say I agree with him about the paramount importance of a running game for Philadelphia, but he's clearly a gifted analyst. Besides, he's 100 percent right about Coleman and Jolley.

He's also great about mentioning the importance of playing beyond the fantasy stats: "Dallas rookie linebacker DeMarcus Ware got a sack but was flagged three times for offsides penalties."

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 4:39pm

Concerning those vaunted Lion receivers, Roy Williams is a terrific talent that hasn't developed consistency yet. Charles Rodgers looks like a guy that hasn't played football for two years. Mike Williams is a typical rookie receiver struggling to adjust to the pro game. Kevin Johnson has great hands but can't get open more than five yards from the LOS.

Net, while I'd have a hard time defending Harrington's play, these guys aren't the 'weapons' they've been advertised.

by B (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 4:44pm

It's insider only? No wonder I stopped reading his column. Linking to a page that most people can't access isn't one of my better suggestions.

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 4:45pm

Tampa Bay asking for a first rounder for Chris Simms. Ouch! If this is typical of in-season trade negotiations it's very easy to see why they are so rare.

by MDS (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 5:04pm

"the Lions' boss has quieted many of his critics by seemingly drafting wisely the last few years and assembling a young talent base"

He has? Then it doesn't take much to quiet most of Millen's critics.

by David Keller (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 5:39pm

The Lions may start Scott Mitchell this week.

by Jeff (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 6:12pm

Re #8: Thank you Jason, for mentioning those two passes! For all the emphasis on the overturned TD, these two plays negated any "poised leadership" Harrington may have showed on the last drive. Those last two passes were uncatchable, gave his big, tall receivers NO chance to go up and get the ball. Thoughtless throws that seem to show no forethought of the situation. Disappointing.

by buddha (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 6:21pm

Joey hits those receivers in stride about 2 or 3 times a game. And then, of course, they drop it (See Roy Williams, opening drive of the game).

Joey just is not an accurate QB.

But what makes it worse is that he seemingly will not take a chance on throwing the ball downfield and seems to have absolutely no pocket presence whatsoever. As soon as there is even a semblance that the pocket is about to collapse, he runs for his life in order to throw the two yard out pass to Shawn Bryson or scramble for a two yard gain.

As soon as Garcia gets healthy, Joey will be back riding the pine. And their next two games are Baltimore and Carolina. It could get pretty ugly for Joey.

by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 6:41pm

re #2: I think some (including Peter King) are taking indisputable a little literally. If we really applied that to the rule then NO call would ever get overturned, since you'd always be able to find at least one fan who'd disagree with the reversal.
I think it's enough if the referee is 100% convinced, and after watching the replay myself a number of times, I'm 100% convinced incompletion is the correct call (for reasons outlined in the MMQB thread)

by Ryan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 6:50pm

I disagree that it was incomplete. When I saw the replay it was quesitonable, but after watching Sportcenter last night, they froze the scene, is knee was clearly in-bounds. And, Mike Williams' catch could've been a touchdown if he would've put both feet in bounds and fell, instead of trying to stand up after the catch.
I am in no way backing up Harrington at this point, but there are plenty of problems (no run game to balance the pass game and a quick collapse on the line 90% of the time) besides Harrington at this point.

by Rob (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 6:53pm

My good friend Anita went to Central Catholic High with Joey here in Portland. He had never said a word to her until one day she tossed a piece of scrap paper in the paper recycling bin and he grabbed her arm and said-

"Hey... Thanks for Recycling."

Joey Harrington and Detroit were just never a good idea.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 7:12pm

Is your good friend Anita hot? Maybe Joey was just using the recycling comment as an in.

by Tim (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 7:32pm

Yeah, it's a shame that all the good Tip Sheet stuff is now Insider. (Thank goodness I have Insider to see all the pre-draft foofaraw.) Morning After is basically consolation prize Pasquarelli, but he's such a good writer that even if the things he's saying aren't necessarily spot-on, it's much more enjoyable to read him than anybody else.

by Basilicus (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 8:42pm

Sorry if someone's already posted this, but Charles Rogers just got suspended for four games due to an unspecified substance abuse violation. Don't know when the suspension will take place, but I think it's time to officially label him a true bust.

by Ryan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 8:57pm

Where is this information on Rogers located?

by Daniel (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 10:37pm

The call at the end of the Lions game was a bad one. These games are way too important for the replay crew to make such a blatant error. There was one angle that they have shown repeatedly that illustrates that he had possesion and his knee had not slid out of bounds. He maintained poessesion through the catch and never lost the ball. By ruling against the officials they may have changed the outcome of two division races, and in turn, the makeup of the playoffs.
I don't think Garcia will do much better with the Detroit than he did last year in Cleveland. This isn't the same QB that led the 49ers into the playoffs years ago. He's older, injury prone, and will be trying to work behind a suspect offensive line. Not a really positive outlook.

by Erasmus (not verified) :: Tue, 10/04/2005 - 1:39am

Joey got plenty of time against the Buccaneers-like said before, he bails out on plays too soon a problem he has always had. Its unfortunate that we cannot see the WRs running routes on those plays.

The only bad pass on that last drive was arguably the last one. The 3rd down pass was a good one between two Buccaneers defenders that was a toe away from being a TD. Not sure what more he could have done there-though it was a great almost-catch by Mike Williams.

by tim (not verified) :: Tue, 10/04/2005 - 3:23am

(disclosure: eagles fan) i admittedly have not seen many lions games, but from what i have seen of the offense so far this year and through some of the games i caught last year, it seems like there is no real offensive confidence and execution. is this a result of inexperienced players or has mariucci kind of regressed into mangling and complicating a modern west-coast offense?

by El Departamento de Turistas del Districto Federal (not verified) :: Tue, 10/04/2005 - 9:53am

What happens in Mexico City stays in Mexico City.

by Scott C (not verified) :: Tue, 10/04/2005 - 11:33am

Mike O'Hara at the Detroit News has written that it may be that Harrington, Jones, Rogers and both Williams guys all may have the talent, but either they have no chemistry together (which just happens sometimes) or the Lions institution makes them dysfunctional as a unit.

Harrington has an NFL QB arm and the smarts to go with it, and there are those moments where it really shows (like that 2-minute drill at the end of the TB game). But either he's missing some X factor that other QBs have, or Detroit is a bad fit for him. If the Lions continue to collapse this year and Detroit dumps him, he'd be worth a flyer somewhere else to at least try for a starting spot. Where, I don't know. There is certainly enough evidence that it's not all Harrington's fault, the Lions are a seriously screwed up looking organization.

by HLF (not verified) :: Tue, 10/04/2005 - 12:18pm

No Lions QB has ever been let go and gone on to success anywhere else -- whoever takes a "flyer" on Harrington (what kind of grown man goes by Joey??) will have simply taken a spot from someone who could possibly contribute. Maybe at Millen's next job, since he's in such demand as to necessitate a contract extension??

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 10/04/2005 - 7:03pm

Sometimes I wonder if Detroit has had a quarterback since Dutch Clark turned the Portsmouth Spartans into the Lions during the Harding Administration.

I'm then reminded, however, of Bobby Layne. The longabout way of answering your question, HLF, is that yes, there was a Lions' QB who went on and made another team better.

The other team was the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Layne played for them from 1958-1962.

Whenever I see Favre play, he reminds me of films I've watched featuring Layne. Cut from the same mold.

by cmm3 (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 2:22pm

You have to admit one thing, for as many times as Joey Harrington is knocked down, sacked, and banged around he always gets back up and he has taken some hits. He is a tough dude. I am just wondering why didn't we (detroit) get anything started on offense until the last drive of the game? We couldn't buy a first down until the last drive every complete was a first down. Why couldn't we do that in the other 58 minutes of the game?

by cmm3 (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 2:24pm

Let's forget about Garcia and Harrington and draft Drew Stanton from Michigan State. I think he looks promising, but then again so did Harrington.