Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

25 Nov 2005

Thanksgiving Debacle Could be Mariucci's Last

Nothing is official, but just about every media outlet in Detroit is reporting that Lions coach Steve Mariucci could be fired as soon as today. It's hard to imagine how the coach responsible for yesterday's humiliation could keep his job, but, then again, it's hard to imagine how a 16-48 record could get Matt Millen a five-year contract extension. Mariucci is a nice guy, but he's done nothing to deserve another year in Detroit.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 25 Nov 2005

28 comments, Last at 28 Nov 2005, 12:47am by g-man


by MC razón (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 8:47am

"Mariucci is a nice guy, but he’s done nothing to deserve another year in Detroit."
Maybe it's just me but I find it hard to inherently trust the self evaluations of fans of bad teams.

And how much blame does Marriucci deserve for having a terrible o-line and QBs?

by Bruce Dickinson (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 9:23am

I think the whole team should fire itself. At least those related to the offense.

i bet Joe Dumars could put together a better team while still running the pistons.

by James, London (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 9:33am

Mooch might not be responsible for the draft, but the HC has to take the blame for the embarrassment last night.

I'll repeat what I wrote on the game thread. Not only do the Lions stink, I don’t think they care. Only Harrington and Dre Bly looked remotely interested in the result, and I'm afraid that the attitude problem falls squarely on the Head Coach.

Cleveland aren't very good. They haven't quit. Neither have Miami or the Titans. On the evidence of last night, the Lions have, and that aloneshould spell the end of Mariucci.

by Shalimar (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 9:53am

Firing Mariucci is pointless because Millen will get to pick his replacement. Millen needs to go first. He has enough of a record to be certain that he's not a good GM.

by asg (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 12:01pm

The punt at the end of the 3rd quarter trailing 27-0 was Mariucci saying "I quit."

by Vlad (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 12:08pm

Ah, the old coach's excuse - it's not me, it's the players/front office. Millen is an issue, but what has Mooch done with what he's got? Nothing. It's his job to straighten out the slackers and motivate the group. As James from my lovely hometown says, none of the other teams with a bad record are playing this spiritless, self-defeating brand of football.

And speaking of Cleveland, am I the only one who thinks they're forming a formidable young offensive unit? Bryant, Edwards, Winslow (presuming he returns), and the grossly underrated Droughns.

by Mike (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 1:15pm

It's not Mooch's fault they've gotten less production from Charles Rogers in 3 seasons than Steve Smith has put up in 3 games.

That offense has a ridiculous amount of former first round picks on it. Mike Williams in 05, Roy Williams and Kevin Jones in 04, Charles Rogers in 03, Joey Harrington in 02 and Jeff Backus in 01 were all drafted under Millen.

Sure he's had some great picks, namely Shaun Rogers, Boss Bailey, Roy Williams and Kevin Jones, but when you're always picking high in the round then you're going to wind up with some talented players. It's just hard to overlook the massive failures. They needed a QB in 02 but you can't deny that Harrington has been awful. Charles Rogers over Andre Johnson was an obvious mistake. 2004 was a great draft, but how do you justify taking ANOTHER WR when guys like Demarcus Ware, Derrick Johnson and Thomas Davis were on the board.

by johonny (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 1:25pm

IF I were Mooch I'd want to get fired too. If he gets the axe though, who would take that job? How could the Lions attract any quality head coach with that GM track record?

by Sam B (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 1:46pm

Re 6: Browns fans tend to think that Bryant is definately a good no. 2 reciever, but he's not signed for next year yet, so he needs to keep concentrating. The question is can Frye step up, and how quickly? $30m under the cap, and a defence-heavy draft (although Savage is a confirmed BPA man), and this team could compete in 06 if Frye can do the job.

by Al (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 1:46pm

You know what would be great? If Millen appointed himself interim coach for the rest of the year. We'll see the world's first 8 WR offense.

by James, London (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 1:53pm

Al,with only 5 eligible receievers allowed, an 8WR set would be strangely appropriate from 'Coach Millen'.

by Michael David Smith :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 2:22pm

Move Charles Rogers to tackle. He couldn't be any worse there than he has been at receiver.

by brasilbear (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 2:28pm

To Lions Fans;
From: Bears Fans:

Whatever you do, don't turn the team over the Dick Jauron. Trust us.

by Adam (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 2:59pm

Does Earl Holmes still play for the Lions? Seriously.

by HLF (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 3:06pm

At least the Millen apologists have finally grown completely silent.

Let's bring this thing full circle: fire both Millen and Mariucci (though Mariucci is NOT the problem here), Re-hire (!) Moeller, and let's try to work on just getting back to the competive teams we had year in and out before the reins were given to a man who knows less about football than half the posters here.

If WCF could be fired, obviously that would be the first priority, but as it's impossible, the guy responsible for turning a more or less playoff team into this stinking pile of fetid wreckage NEEDS to go (and has needed to go for at least three years now while all seem to make excuses for him).

Completely Hopeless Lions Fan

by emcee fleshy (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 3:08pm

Mooch is out. The team is desperate. Matt Millen needs to make a move. The move has to fill the two fundemantal "Millen criteria."

1. It has to involve getting a WR.
2. It has to be counterproductive.

Y'all see where this is headed, right?

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 3:20pm

“Mariucci is a nice guy, but he’s done nothing to deserve another year in Detroit.�

I think that should read more like "Mariucci is such a nice guy, he doesn't deserve another year in Detroit."

by Ryguy (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 3:25pm

What the Lions really need to do is fire Matt Millen. Millen is the reason this team has been horrible over the past few years.

One of the suprises, since I'm not a Lions fan, was this constant WR drafting in the first round. Wide Receivers can pretty much be drafted anywhere and you can find good skills; some of the greatest players come out of really small schools (ex: Rice, Jerry who could probably do better right now than Charles Rogers). Also I think Millen's strategy of drafting every big school name brings up the point he might just watch ABC/CBS College football when he makes his draft evaluations.

by Sean (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 3:56pm

There is nothing wrong with taking wide receivers with multiple first round picks. Last time I checked, the Colts offense trots out two first rounders on every down, plus a first round tight end, a first round halfback and a first round quarterback to go with it. The issue isn't where the receivers were drafted, but how they have played, and how their skill sets mesh. If Charles Rogers turns out to be a bust-as there is every indication of- then Lions fans may be very happy to have Williams and Williams out there after #80 is erased from the roster. (I know Mike Williams hasn't shown much either, but when you factor in the traditional difficulties receivers have making an impact during their rookie season and then add the extra time away from the game that he had, I think you have to consider anything that happens during his rookie season to be something of a wash.)

by Michael David Smith :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 4:25pm

The Lions now say Mariucci won't be fired today:


by buddha (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 4:44pm

Adam: Earl Holmes is hurt.

by CoreyG (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 4:47pm

I'll gladly take the Detroit Lions coaching job. My relevant experience includes taking the Lions to my ESPN NFL 2k5 league's Superbowl on Xbox Live this week. Surely I couldn't do any worse than what the Lions have been doing these past few years. I'd even come cheap, I'd do it for $1million a year which has got to be a bargain.

by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 4:50pm

Mooch will get canned.

The team is in disarray. They remind me of Fassel's Giants and the pre-Denny Green Cardinals - A team whose players had sort of gotten used to just doing whatever.

The Lions and the Cardinals have been a consistant embarassment for years.

The best thing the Lions could get is they need to get a solid D-Coordinator and make him their coach.

A good D-coordinator can turn a team around (or crash a team) faster then anything. The Packers D pre and post Donatell (and the coinciding Falcons one) - the Rams D pre and post Lovie Smith (and the coinciding Bears). Redskins D with and without Gregg Williams.

I think Gregg Williams deserves another chance as a HC and I think he can do it. but if I were the Lions, I'd talk to Jim Bates.

Did you guys see how hard his Dolphins team fought after Wannstedt got canned? Even the Packers D is much improved with him. By DVOA they went from nightmarish to average in 8 games - and I'd need to do more research to find out if they've been consistantly average or gradually improving.

by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 5:02pm

EDIT: Why did I say "through 8 games"? It's through week 11 that they're average according to DVOA.

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 5:05pm


The Packer defense has been improving over the season.

The key to the defensive gains have been the solid work of the defensive line. Green Bay has undersized ends, Grady Jackson, and a bunch of no-names. They came into training camp with Cletidus Hunt as a starting tackle. Reportedly, Bates ordered his D-linemen to do some agility drills. Hunt gave him a disdainful look then proceeded to stand there as the rest of the group (including Grady) went through the drill. Hunt made it through most of the pre-season (again, this is from my folks up there) only because Sherman was concerned that his team couldn't hold up without him. Bates convinced him the guy was a worthless sack of skin and a cancer.

Corey Williams has been solid. Colin Cole has been a revelation. Grady Jackson has provided a very good effort game after game. Kenny Peterson has even made a play a time or two.

Cullen Jenkins has had burst of goodness.

KGB has been more technically sound resulting in fewer sacks but fewer big running plays. Kampmann has flourished in Bates defense as the kid is the most technically defensive linemen in the NFC. He uses his hand and feet perfectly. If he was 300 instead of 270 he would be an All-Pro. But he can overpowered by the better tackles.

Nick Barnett hustles from beginning to end but simply cannot hold the point on his own. He can be steamrolled. Al Harris has been consistently excellent. Nick Collins can hit but has weak cover skills.

The Green Bay defense is undermined by having to play Robert Thomas, Paris Lenon, and Ahmad Carroll. Thomas and Lenon are subs at best. Carroll is fast and fearless. But the kid is a box of rocks. He quickly earned a rep for using his hands too much and even though he's improved a bit will draw any flag possible. And he STILL uses his hands when if he just turned his head he would have the interception.

Still puzzled why anyone would draft a shorter CB when Chris Gamble (6'1" and just as fast) was available?

But that's Mike Sherman. Once he made up his mind on a guy during the draft he simply wouldn't change it no matter who might be available.

by Mitch (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 6:24pm

Mooch has done a poor job in every aspect of coaching the offense, and since that is his side of the ball, he is more than deserving of his share of the blame, and unemployment. I've suffered through most of their games this year, and yesterday was the best example of why he has failed:

On their first play from scrimmage, Kevin Jones had a nice 20-yard run, bouncing outside with impressive footwork and acceleration. Against a defense that has allowed everyone from Curtis Martin to Samkon Gado to move the chains at will, it seemed Mooch would finally trust Jones.

But alas, Mooch had another set of priorities. He had wanted to start Jeff Garcia all along (but for some reason didn't), and thus had to give Joey Harrington enough pass attempts to clearly fail so he could pull him. He, like the rest of Detroit, was too obsessed with the QB controversy to embrace the offense's strengths, a bit of a problem when you're the head coach. And so despite the Atlanta defense's tackling aversion, the inability of the Lions to pass-block Kerney once Kelly Butler was injured, and Jones's early success, the Lions threw the ball and scored not one of the game's first 27 points.

Mariucci is not considered a disciplinarian, a motivator, or a strategist. If he can't put forward a vaguely logical offensive gameplan, what good is he?

by Shalimar (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 8:23pm

Y’all see where this is headed, right?

The only place it could go and get worse: Head Coach Terrell Owens.

by g-man (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 12:47am

The best thing the Lions can do is to disband.