Tuesday, November 29, 2005

So Long Mooch




Well, I hadn't gotten around to writing about the firing until today as I was still recovering from my Florida vacation. And it wasn't until today that I realized how many other people are actually reading my silly little blog. I found out because of several e-mails, along with a few phone calls I received of people asking me what I thought about Mooch getting fired. So, I figure I need to post what my take on the situation is.

In all honesty, I'm sad.

I'm sad because Mooch is a good guy, and I hate to see people lose their job. I'm sad because I had bought into the Mooch hype hook, line, and sinker when he came here. I'm sad because this likely means another rebuilding project for our beloved franchise. And I'm sad because it means that the Lions have officially thrown in the towel on this season.

To be sure, Mooch brought this on himself, if I've read the situation correctly - which I believe I have. I don't buy Dre' Bly's argument that Joey Harrington is the reason Mooch got fired. In fact, what Dre' did in my book is equivalent to what TO did. I like Dre, but that was not the time or the place to go ripping on Joey. To me, that showed a complete lack of class on his part. It's OK to show that you liked the coach, but it's never OK to trash a teammate, especially on a national TV show on the NFL network. Dre', it's time to step up to the mike, and apologize for what you said in public. Say it was just that your emotions got the best of you, whatever. But don't trash your teammate.

I also don't buy that Millen should be gone with Mooch. To be sure, Millen has made his share of mistakes, and his record as GM is horrid. I tend to discount most of the first 2 years, due to the mess that the Lions were that he inherited. I've talked about that before, and you can find my discussion of it WAY back in my archives as What Went Wrong, and The Boss Ross Disaster. But when you look at what he's done recently, he's done a good job of bringing in players that the team and Mooch wanted.

And that really is why I don't blame Millen for the Mooch firing. If there was any indication that Mooch didn't want the players that Millen signed or drafted since Mooch came here, it has never surfaced. In every press conference announcing a signing or a draft pick, Mooch stood side by side with Millen, stating the great job that had been done to bring in exactly the players that Mooch wanted. IMHO, it was Mooch himself who exonerated Millen's player acquisitions.

The one subject where the whole Millen / Mooch debate hinges on is the Joey Harrington discussion. It was pretty common knowledge that Mooch didn't like Joey as his starter, yet Millen believes (still?) that Joey can be the franchise QB the team needs. It's common speculation that Mooch was forced to play Joey even though he preferred Mike McMahon, and later Jeff Garcia. Unfortunately, the evidence doesn't support those statements. McMike never was able to show much of anything here, and when he did play, he looked like he didn't belong throwing passes in the NFL. Sure, his athleticism reminded people of Steve Young, but his arm reminded people of Ryan Leaf. As for Garcia, how fast everyone has forgotten that Joey simply outclassed him in preseason and flat out won the job against him. It wasn't even close. Then when the bad things happened in the regular season, people assumed incorrectly that it was all Joey, and that Jeff would make a huge impact when he returned. Then Jeff did return, and he completely underwhelmed everyone. When we saw him making the same dump offs, the same bad throws, the same checkdowns, it was a HUGE sign that the problem was more likely coaching than the player.

And that's what it all comes back to - the coaching. This team has been a comedy of errors all season. Whether it was:
- the incredibly bad O-Line play,
- the receivers being taught how to catch a brick, but obviously not a football,
- the failure to remember to give the ball to your 1000 yard rusher from last year,
- the silly penalties,
- the questionable development of the younger players,
- the refusal to adapt his offense to the skills of the players on his roster,
- or the totally predictable playcalling, every one of those signs point directly back at the coach. Once the facade of the problem being entirely Joey was gone, Mooch's deficiencies in coaching this team were exposed.

But here's where my analysis gets downright weird - I still think Mooch is a good coach. He's just not the right coach for this team. His system will work if the right players are in it. He couldn't have won as many games in SF in the way he did if his system didn't work. But the problem was he had nearly the perfect players for that system in SF. He had his scrambling QB - a 3 year younger Garcia. He had a good O-Line. He had 2 good complimentary backs in Hearst and Barlow. And he had the superstar WR in T.O. who could take a short pass to the house. He also had veterans, and he could trust them, in the way that his accountability by men philosophy works. Here, he tried to cram the players he had into those roles, irregardless if they fit or not, and most of the players are too young to understand what it really takes to be a great NFL player. iRoy is a dang good receiver, but he's not T.O. - not yet at least. Joey is a pocket passer, not a scrambler. KJ is a stud RB, but Pinner and Bryson are serviceable backups, not deserving of equal PT to KJ. And the O-Line - well, it stinks.

BUT... If Mooch were to get the right team to coach - and as scary as it sounds, the Packers may be a good fit - his system could work again. How bad would it be to see him coach GB next year, and lead Favre and Co. back to the playoffs for one last time? That team is scary close to the perfect fit for his O - scrambling QB in Favre, Walker can do a pretty good T.O. impersonation, Green and Davenport are a good 1-2 RB punch, and the O-Line is 1 or 2 players away from being solid again. The thought of Mooch coaching there with those players should be one that causes nightmares for Lions fans.

After all of that, I doubt we'll see too much radically different for the remainder of the season. Olson calling plays should remedy a few of the problems as the playcalling won't be predictable and KJ will get a lot more touches. In a best case scenario, the WR's get their heads on straight and tear it up, and the O-Line figures out how to block someone. If all that happens, the Lions could close out the season strong, and Dick Juaron could pull a Wayne Fontes and find himself Head Coach here next year. But that's a lot of if's. Too many to make any kind of a calculated bet on.

So in summary, yes, Mooch deserved to get canned. He and he alone created the mess of this season in my opinion. But I think he will coach again, and I pray that when he does that we don't have to see him have success before the Lions do.

Unfortunately, that just may happen.

4 comments:

Uncle Miltie said...

FYI - If you're going to post a comment, don't do it anonymously. I will delete anonymous comments and spam comments...

Uncle Miltie said...

I was also reminded about the real reason I began this blog - to keep an archive about my thoughts on the Lions. Those posts on Bobby Ross and the mess that was the Lions are nearly 2 years old. Still available here in my little blog. Just the way I like it. :)

Anonymous said...

Enjoy reading your takes....I have posted on another forum much the same sentiment though I was never a Mooch fan but I hoped it would work. Unfortunately, it became quite clear the first year after listening to a radio interview that Mooch did not care for Harrington (though I still think Harrington was Ford Sr.s call). Still, Mooch knew what kind of qb Harrington was and instead of throwing Harrington under the bus and encouraging (yes I do believe he is quite slick at manipulation) others to do his bidding for him (like Garcia weekly on the radio and Bly blasting Harrington...this is not the first time-last year and throughout this year he has constantly thrown Harrington under the bus)or through his assistants or off the record....he made it quite clear and he divided the lockerroom...and in my estimation he set himself up for failure because he surrounded himself with yes men who all told him he was correct on his staff and he promoted Garcia as the qb who was going to make a difference and then stupidly had him showboating to try and win over the fan base so he could start Garcia...just like he was pumping things up for McMike in the Indy game.....It was not Harrington that brought Mooch down...it was that Garcia was no different....I will not miss his ridiculous press conferences where he waxed poetically about Martinez value on the special teams, or why Bryson was more important, or that he did not see anything wrong with the OL, ......

I predicted a lot of what came forth....pretty easy to do....

Bly needs to be reprimmanded in private....and the first thing they all need to do is quit running to the media to fingerpoint the blame past themselves....

The defense played most of the season better than the offense but they were hardly top five....

They are mentally weak from division...I have seen it all before...the media in Detroit seem to delight in it....and the fan base seems more concerned with trashing the team than getting them motivated to be winners.(that started last year with the booing of Harrington in the first home game...goaded on by the media).

I disagree though with your assessment that all is lost. I do not want Jauron as the new hc.

The first order of business I would do (besides doing a thorough job getting the right coach)...is get a plan together to build the right OL....no qb will succeed without that.....and building through the draft is the slowest method...so it will need both some drafting for depth and then pouncing on the right fa when they became available (unfortunately we missed a golden opportunity the last two years....Chicago took advantage which is why they went ahead of us as I predicted they very well could this year)...and then shore up some of the defense that needs improving (the defense is not that far off from a top ten defense....

I would keep Harrington (but only at a very restructured contract)with no guarantees of starting, he will have to earn it (probably incentive based on performance)I believe he has two years left on his contract...and check out who is available for a veteran upgrade.

I would not draft a qb til the next draft unless someone great falls in your lap....

I am not sure Orlovsky is the answer...I was not impressed with him at all and he will not be ready to face the defenses of the AFC East next year.

Work hard on the fundamentals getting wr to run precision routes...and we need someone as a coach who will maintain a professional atmosphere- no nonsense coach but also will not be one that throws players under the bus to the media like Ross and Mooch did. I do think there is a happy medium between the two.

It took Chicago two years to build their OL and a rookie is leading them to wins with a top defense...

And I would not trade Rogers...I would approach his contract situation like the Browns did with Winslow Jr. Mike is not fast enough and we actually are getting slower and not keeping up with the speed around the league....

Uncle Miltie said...

OK, so I already strayed and let an anonymous post stand. It was too well written for me to just kill it though...