DETROIT LIONS DAILY UPDATE FOR MONDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2006

TODAY'S NEWS

  • The team met today to review film from yesterday's game at New York against the Jets at their headquarters and training facility in Allen Park. The players will return to the practice field with workouts on Wednesday and Thursday.
  • The Lions offense is ranked fourth in the NFL (third in the NFC) in passing with 247.4 yards-per-game. Detroit ranks behind Philadelphia (291.9), Indianapolis (261.8) and the New York Giants (250.0).
  • Overall, the Lions are ranked 11th in total offense, churning out 327.1 yards-per-game, and Detroit is eighth in yards-per-play (5.42).
  • QB Jon Kitna is currently first in the NFL in completions (167), first in attempts (264), second in passing yards (1,853) and ninth in completion-percentage among passers with 20 attempts-per-game (63.3).
  • In franchise history, Kitna currently ranks first out of all Lions' quarterbacks with the highest single-season completion percentage (min. 200 attempts). Kitna holds a 63.25 completion percentage rating surpassing QB Eric Hipple (62.95) in 1986.
  • At the New York Jets (10/22), Kitna completed 22-of-36 pass attempts (61.1 percent) for 269 yards and a season-high three touchdowns. It was also the fifth time this season that he has completed more than 60 percent of his passes and his fourth game with more than 250 passing yards.
  • In the fourth quarter at the Jets (10/22), Kitna was 13-of-19 for 137 yards and two touchdowns. His fourth quarter QB-rating was 124.2, a season-high.
  • Among league leaders, RB Kevin Jones is fourth in the NFL (third in the NFC) with 740 total yards from scrimmage (474 rushing, 266 receiving). He is also third in the NFL and second in the NFC with 37 first downs (23 rushing, 14 receiving).
  • Jones set a career-high with 57 receiving yards while matching a career-high with six receptions against the Jets (10/22) at The Meadowlands. He also had his first touchdown reception (9 yards) of the season on a shovel pass. In each of the first seven games this season, Jones has had at least four receptions. He ranks second in the NFL among running backs with 37 receptions and is tied for ninth overall in the league.
  • At New York (10/22), Jones averaged a season-high 5.7-yards-per-carry against the Jets while finishing for 86 yards on 15 carries. It was the highest yards-per-carry average for Jones in a game in which he had 15 or more rushing attempts. Combined with his receiving output, he had 143 total yards for a 6.8 yards-per-touch average.
  • Through the past two games (vs. Buf, 10/15 and at NYJ, 10/22), Jones has 38 carries for 213 yards and is averaging 5.6 yards-per-carry.
  • WR Mike Furrey had a career-day in New York with a career-high nine receptions for a career-high 109 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown reception. Seven of his receptions (86 yards) came in the fourth-quarter, including his touchdown which pulled Detroit within a score of New York. Furrey is tied for ninth in the NFL with 37 receptions.
  • The 109 yards Furrey collected in New York was his first 100-yard receiving game of his career.
  • Despite missing most of the Lions' Week 5 match-up at Minnesota (10/15), WR Roy Williams is second in the NFL in receiving yardage (581). With 38 receptions through the first seven games, he is seventh in the NFL and is third amongst NFC receivers
  • TE Dan Campbell rumbled 22 yards on a screen pass at the Jets (10/22) that helped setup the Lions first score. The 22-yard reception was his fifth reception of the season that has gone for at least 20 yards. He is ranked fourth in the NFL among tight ends with the most 20+-yard receptions (5).

LIONS HEAD COACH ROD MARINELLI WEEKLY PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement: "Just to kind of update you on injuries - really, we came out of it fairly clean, so that was good news as we get ready to go into the bye week. I saw with our defense the first time I had a chance to watch the tape thoroughly this morning. I think both as coaches and players - obviously, myself included - it wouldn't be good enough. The thing I was disappointed in was our ability to stop the run. That's got to be No. 1 for us; in this league that's just something you have to do.

"A lot of little things came up just in terms of gaps - the power game and the counter game - we mis-fitted some of those in terms of details and fundamentals. Tackling was an issue (and) penalties - were again - an issue. Two offsides early in the game with the hard counts - we've got to be on top of those things. Defensive holding and some of those things at critical times really hurt us. One turnover on defense - we've got to produce more turnovers - and the two sacks, we've got to get more there. If we had stopped the run I thought we would have had a real good chance to rush these guys. (We've) got to be able to help our offense more.

"So, it comes down to it again - gap control, discipline and doing the things we're supposed to do. They're getting our shoulder pad level down a little bit lower, and the hustle. I think when you have some injuries on defense, what you've got to do is pack it in a little bit more, tighten up a little bit more as a complete defense and play our gaps and be more disciplined and everybody's got to take the challenge of sprinting to the ball a little bit harder and gang tackling - those types of things, and having poise.

"I think special teams were ok. We had the one long kickoff return and that hurt us in terms of field position - tackling.

"I thought offensively we did a good job. I think we did a fine job. Kitna, again, I thought he played at a high level and he's having a career year for himself. He's doing a nice job of avoiding pressure and staying alive and doing some nice things there. Kevin Jones, I think, is playing at a Pro Bowl level; he's a heck of a back. We've been really pleased with Kevin. With the inconsistency and the consistency in and out each week with people, we are hanging together really well and doing a good job - solid job. I was pleased with that.

"One of the guys was Mike Furrey; he did a heck of a job, (and) he's just a tremendous competitor. Each week, one thing you know about Mike, each and every week he shows up. You get the same effort and the same consistency out of Mike each and every week. That part of the game is good; what we've got to do on defense and special teams is create some turnovers and we've got to get some three-and-outs - get off on third down better. But, No 1, we've got to play the run better - that's from day one."

On if this record reflects where this team is at right now: "Yeah, because that's what it is. That's all I can say. We've got to win those close ones. It's like that every week and that's, you know, you can look more into it - man we're close - it's still, in this league you've got to win them. You have to win those games at the end. Maybe a couple more stops on defense here, one or two there and pull that thing together a little bit tighter and we would have given ourselves an opportunity to win."

On where he thought he'd be by the bye week: "I couldn't think wins and losses, but I really believed we'd be a little bit better than where we are in terms of wins and losses - I was counting on that. I'm very positive and upbeat on those types of things and I think we're better. We've got to play better and hopefully this bye week will help us and freshen us up a little bit and then we'll get ready to go on the second half of the season."

On if it's a surprise that the offense has been the first thing to come around on this team when typically it's the defense that clicks first: "Oh yeah, we started off the season fast. We came out against Seattle with a really tremendous performance. So, it started off fast and then just somehow we're inconsistent. We'll be on for a couple of games, off a couple of games, on a couple games and then last week against Buffalo we hit gaps right, all the details were really solid and then we fell off a little bit this week again. So, it's just the consistency of each guy and the key thing is when this team defense is gang tackling and everybody is doing things right; so if you miss a guy or two just play a smaller box, do those things that you have to do. Stay in our gap, play with great pad level and that was the No. 1 thing going into this game - just play good run defense. Then we're starting to rush a little bit, we're going to do those things well, but when it's the run defense we've got to show up."

On if these are the same mistakes they've been making: "No, they're always different. A different run can show up and you may be fitted differently and it could be a different front - a front and cover, how you're playing these, ok? It's not one guy, it's all of a sudden the power game, overrunning it maybe here or there, playing a block correctly. So, it's just some things that popped up on us."

On how improvement is important and that it's easy to see the team is making great strides offensively, but if they're improving defensively each week as well: "No we're not. We're up and down. Like I was saying, you'll see us start here, then here and then go here, here and then here and here. So, the consistency part is a concern."

On if there's a difference between the mistakes and if they don't understand what he wants out of them, or they do understand and they just aren't executing it: "I think it's probably a little bit of both. A different run can bring up different fits in a game, so it's important. Usually, the defense is built on rules and you have your rules and you just have to fit them properly."

On if they'll be in pads Wednesday and Thursday: "Not this week. When we come back on Monday we'll pad them up."

On what he's going to do in terms of practice Wednesday and Thursday and if he'll go back to the fundamentals: "Yes and maybe shorten it down just a little bit, because we still have guys banged up a little bit. This is a chance for us to get healthy right now and then I want to go back and we'll go through a lot of our cut-ups now and just start kind of re-fitting all the problems that we've had."

On how many guys he expects to have back after the bye: "We're hoping Alex Lewis will be up, Kenoy Kennedy should be up, (Ross) Verba should be up, (Rex) Tucker should be up, we're hoping Cory (Schlesinger) is going to be up and so we'll see from there."

On how he said DT Shaun Rogers wouldn't have made that much of a difference in the defense's performance: "I shouldn't have said that -he's just not there, so how can you? He's just not there."

On if it's right to assume that Rogers would have made a difference: "The way I look at it, he's not there. So, I can't say that. If he was there and had the ability to be there - yeah; but, he's not there, so why go that way? They were a power team going into it, which we knew. I thought they stayed with it and did a good job staying with it because we allowed them to and the power and counter game - which is a downhill run game."

On the defense getting hurt more on the edge: "Yeah, they crack-tossed us. They got some crack tosses on us."

Whether that was because players weren't getting off the block at the next level: "Well, it's just force and fill. It's just forcing the ball tight and quick and filling it inside and out. It's just the basics of football. It's as basic as it gets in terms of gap control, force, fill and some of those things."

Whether he expects LB Teddy Lehman to be back for the next game as well: "Yes."

On the holding call on C Dominic Raiola: "Well, he really drilled the guy and it goes either way - that's how they call it. His hand kind of got up in here a little bit on it when he went down and as they saw it, they called holding on it. So it was; it could have maybe went either way."

Whether he saw it as a hold: "Whatever they call you've got to move on with it. You're not going to get them to change it. It's not going to change. So you move on."

Whether the Lions are getting penalty calls because they are known for it: "No. It just got called and we move on. I'm not going to go down that road."

Whether part of his approach is to forget it and go back to "one snap at a time": "Got to move on."

On the fact that he hasn't criticized the officials at all this year: "It's just me. It's out of our hands. Once that call is being made, it's totally out of our hands unless we have the ability to challenge something. And when we don't have the ability to challenge something you become a complainer. I'll make that note to official (on) the field (during) the game, but afterwards it's the call. You have to move on. If you live in the past, you've got problems. We've got to worry about the next snap and the next snap; the game's moving (fast) and the more you think about the last play or a lost gap or whatever, it can't help you. All it does is hurt you."

On the fact that the team looks like they're chasing seven or eight points a game and whether it looks like more to him on film or he believes he's "this close": "I do, I feel we're 'that close.' I think this team is a very good team. It's got a chance to be. It's just, here and there a couple plays all the time. Maybe it's jumping offsides - we started the game off maybe really well with a pick; had a chance for an interception right off the bat; and then an offside penalty. Now that creates a drive; from maybe having an interception and then going the other way with it; it swings all of a sudden. A penalty here, a penalty there, a detail here and they get a drive going on us. Again, it sounds like a broken record but that's what football is. It's about who can do the little things day-in and day-out; play-in and play-out and that's what this game's about."

Whether he will just abandon looking at this as the second quarter and instead set goals for the remainder of the season after the bye week: "Finish the second quarter out - that would be my goal, just like we talked about initially. I don't change in midstream; I prefer not to do that. So we'll finish the second quarter up and then when that's done we'll zero in on the third quarter."

On taking the pads off due to injuries and what practicing in pads next week will do for the team: "You get back to your basic fundamentals and your pad level; getting them a little bit lower; your hand placement. I think a lot of people look at it as punishment, but if you understand the fundamentals of our game it's not punishment, it's trying to get guys right. They'll be fresh coming back, all the details; how you play low, your feet. See, you feel pressure on your body. The thing is getting the pressure on your body and feeling the squeeze-and-blocks, spilling correctly, some of those things. It's coming out and just correcting all the little things fundamentally; physically, not just mentally."

Whether playing "just well enough to lose" is a mental block in any way: "I think it could be, but if you really understand; if you keep trying to play one snap at a time, you don't think about all that. You play the snap. That's my goal. If I can get you to play the snap you're in at that moment, you don't think about mental blocks - you don't think about all that. You think about what you're doing at that moment; how hard can I play that play. No matter what the clock says, no matter anything - play that play. Then put it over here. Play this play again. Really get wired into what you're doing. It's kind of the cycle of the snap. Just understand your call, listen to the communication, communicate correctly, get aligned properly, read your keys, whatever that may be and play that snap as well as you can. And then - good play, bad play - you put it over here and you replay again. And when you can do that, all your problems shift away; all your problems have a tendency to shift away. But it's just something very hard to do. Not many people can do that. You've really got to be mentally tough and mentally strong to do those things. So that's the thing we will continue to concentrate on."

Whether - if everyone is doing what they are supposed to - if it ultimately comes down to talent and if that is becoming a problem: "We've got to be able to do; if we execute and we keep our proper arm free right here, and you're running the ball right here, then we'll make the play. It's about execution, that's exactly what you said. If we both do it right, and a guy gets off the block the best or the tackle or the turnaround tackle, some of those things. But it obviously is a game - people say a game of talent. We've got enough talent, we've just got to be able to make sure our talent's executing."

On the difference in fourth-quarter execution: "Our offense moving the ball well and doing those things. I don't know if it's anything - we got on a roll I thought very well offensively; Mike (Martz) called a great game - called a fabulous game and we had some guys really making some just great plays coming down the line. Furrey on that fourth-down play; he was tremendous on the touchdown he caught and Kevin played big. So it was just hopefully it's just playing one snap at a time and all those things and defensively we've just got to get a stop. We've got to get a stop when we need one."

Whether wanting to go back to the basics is due to the number of injured players returning and how big those returning players are: "To answer your first question, it's always a transition of fundamentals - always. It's not going back to them, we've never left them. But it's constantly working with those areas and understanding them. It'll be big; those guys have got to get going. Just because they're back doesn't mean they're going to play good right now. So they've got to come back, get back in the rhythm, get back to practice, their footwork and their details and then we'll be fine."

Whether, from this point forward, this team has the capability of having a winning record the rest of the way or whether he is just searching for improvement: "No, I'm looking to have a winning record; that's what we want. To tell a man to go out there and bust it everyday and that we're not looking for a winning record to me that would not be smart. I'm interested in coming out and improving and winning and winning our next game. So, the No. 1 thing, we've got to keep improving over the bye, improve during that next week and take advantage of our bonus day that following Monday and improve and get a win."

On WR Mike Furrey: "He's just a guy … he's a ballplayer. That's the best I can say. The one thing with him, he brings the same level of intensity, the same production every single week. He's a guy that always shows up, is always working, makes tough catches - this guy can really catch the football at critical (times) - those are critical plays. He kept us in the game at the end. He's just a very good football player that he's not a role player or his role - he's a good player on this team. We're lucky to have him."

Whether, in the fourth quarter, he tells the players they need a rally or whether he leaves that up to the unit coaches: "Even though it's the fourth quarter, I still go back to that one snap at a time. We've just got to keep playing the snap we're in. That takes care of everything in football. Just play the snap you're in. You shouldn't even know you're in the fourth quarter. All you're worried about is that next snap; how well we can play that snap. You know, the mental toughness no matter if there's a crowd there, if we're ahead, behind, it doesn't matter. It's playing the snap we're in. I've just got to do a better job of relaying that and teaching it."

 

COURTESY OF THE LIONS

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