On My Side Of The Plate

The Honolulu Blue and Silver has done it again!

To go along with the new stadium which opened this year, the Lions now have themselves a new coach for the 2003 season with Steve Mariucci returning home to Michigan to become Detroit's fourth head coach in as many years.

According to published reports, the Lions will be paying the Iron Mountain native $25 million over five years to try and bring the boys from Detroit back to NFL respectability, after the team went a miserable 5-27 during former head coach Marty Mornhinweg's two-year stint at the helm.

Steve, my friend, I wish you luck, you're sure gonna need it!

Even though $25 million will make a person rich, I'll give him about two years before he begins wishing he was back in Iron Mountain where the wind blows cold off Lake Superior and it's winter nine months of the year, rather than being lost in depths of the black hole which is Detroit Lions' football.

Being a Michigan native myself and having followed, sort of, the misfortunes of the Lions over the years, I can't remember how many "good" players and coaches have been sucked into the Detroit vortex, never to be heard from again.

It seems like forever since the Lions have fielded a decent team which was able to put together a winning record during the regular season, and then do anything in the post-season playoffs.

The Lions' front office always seems to be coming up with "great ideas" and innovations, (like hiring Matt Millen as chief executive who had never managed anything connected with the NFL but was a "name"), and spending a lot of money in an effort to turn things around, but nothing ever seems to work.

Apparently the ownership hasn't realized that good intentions and changing coaches every couple of years isn't going to win you games.

To be a successful team in the NFL it takes talented players, plain and simple.

Talented players, and someone in the head coaching position who is a motivator.

Notice I don't say great players, just guys with talent who understand that they are professionals and are willing to play the game and conduct their personal lives accordingly, unlike the Portland Trailblazers.

The bottom line is the Lions' players are not very good and pale in comparison to some of the other teams around the league, and Mariucci and his staff have a lot of work to do.

Even though the "West Coast" offense won a lot of games in San Francisco, there is no way Mariucci is going to have anywhere near the success he once had with the players the Lions currently have on their roster.

Although I was never a 49ers fan, and I'm even less of one now having read about how the front office treats the players and staff, (just ask Jerry Rice and Mariucci himself what the team did to them), and I got a little sick and tired from time to time of hearing Joe Montana this and Joe Montana that when he was the star performer.

It takes more than one player to make a team and in my opinion humble Joe-baby wasn't, but I have to admit they did have some talent in San Francisco.

After Montana, the team had Steve Young as the quarterback, (another one lacking humility, and who cares if you're perceived as being a danger to the Mormon church seeing that you're in your 30s and unmarried), and the boys from City by the Bay continued to win games.

Like the Ambassador Bridge being compared to the Golden Gate Bridge, the new head coach of the Lions is going to find out in a hurry that things are a whole lot different in the Motor City.

Oh sure, the Lions drafted Joey Harrington as their "savior" quarterback last year, providing his heart problems don't hinder him, (I expect seeing Warren Sapp coming at you full-bore after someone on the offensive line misses a block would tend to make one's heart palpitate), but the Lions are going to need a lot more than one player and a new coach to achieve league-respectability.

The facts are Detroit hasn't had a running game since the days of Barry Sanders and Billy Simms before him. Harrington had better wide receivers to throw to when he played at Oregon and the Lions' offensive line leaks like the proverbial sieve. So it doesn't take a whole lot of smarts to realize why the team has been having a difficult time winning games for several seasons.

Combine that with a defense that has problems stopping anyone and, well - you get the picture.

No question about it, Mariucci will have a daunting task ahead of him in Detroit, and will probably end up having to start from scratch in his efforts to rebuild the program.

Another new head coach who will also have his work cut out for him trying to return a team to the days of glory is Bill "The Tuna" Parcells, who has taken over the reins of the Dallas Cowboys.

The former "America's Team" is another one which is low on talent and seems to have lost its winning attitude, and Parcells' problems are compounded by having to deal with an owner, Jerry Jones, who sometimes gives people the impression of having lost touch with reality.

My only wish is that the management of both teams gives their new head coaches the time and the backing to get things done, and give them several years to turn things around before they think about throwing in the towel. Their past performances in the NFL have earned them that right.

Anyone with comments about "On My Side of the Plate" can contact Tim Adams by calling 575-0710 or by e-mail at tim@bluemountaineagle.com.

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