Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Change for the sake of Change

Well, we can finally say goodbye to Joey Ballgame. It's now a done deal. In comes Jon Kitna and Josh McCown, out goes Joey Harrington. For a large group of fans, just being rid of Joey will be seen as a major improvement. For another group of fans, it's a colossal disappointment. You can guess I'm probably in the second group, but not because I was a Joey Lover. Mostly because I don't see any progress, I see change simply for the sake of change.

Seriously, is either Jon or Josh really an upgrade over Joey? Nope. Jon has been such a great QB that he has been replaced by a younger "more talented" guy in both of his previous NFL stops. The only advantage Josh has over Joey is that he hasn't yet been booed by Lions fans. Neither one really excites me as the future of this franchise.

I won't get into all the rumor mongering that seems to be getting talked about - the supposed "sabotage". Most of it couldn't be backed up in any case, and even the writers of the stuff - you know, Killer - has already changed his tune about what was said and how it was said. Of course he calls his revisionist history "clarification", but I digress. Until we hear something from the Lions and / or Joey, we won't know the real story. And neither side has spoken yet.

In a lot of ways, I'm sad to see Joey go. It represents a failure of the last 4 years beyond the teams record. We spent 4 years being told he's the guy, and now it just gets thrown out the window. Who to blame the failure on isn't an easy task as equal parts could be pointed at the Ford's, Millen, Mornhinweg, Mooch and Joey himself. The Ford's for wanting a franchise 'face' of the team, irregardless whether he was the best fit. Millen for bowing to their pressure and not taking Jammer. Mornhinweg for teaching Joey the art of the checkdown and throw away too well. Mooch for not supporting and working with him. Joey for simply not being able to run the teams O the way everyone expected him to. It was a comedy of errors to the nth degree.

And here's the worst thing - until they do something to fix the O-Line, the quarterbacking around here won't get any better. The O may be more exciting due to the change in philosophy, but there is still a turnstyle at LT, and they are still missing a LG. No offseason moves have improved these positions which have been so problematic for the Lions in the past few years. Jeff Backus is no Orlando Pace, and even with Pace at LT, QB's in Martz O regularly took a pounding. Now replace Pace with Backus, and let's see what happens - the Lions could set a new league record for most sacks allowed next year. I understand the thought process about why they couldn't afford to lose Backus, but they can't afford to have him at LT for the next 4 years either.

Outside of the two QB's, they signed Corey Bradford, the 2006 version of Kevin Johnson and Shawn Jefferson. It's an OK move, but it won't do anything to really help teach the kid WR's more than KJ or SJ did. They signed Dan Campbell - a blocking TE - for an O that rarely uses a blocking TE. And now they've signed Rex Tucker, an OK Guard who hasn't been able to stay healthy in about 3 years. None of these moves really excites me as being a 'great' move. None of these guys will be starters. None will have a huge impact. And that leaves some gaping holes we saw last year - DE, OLB, LT, LG. Sure, we may be able to fill one or two of those spots in the draft, and maybe Backus will be OK (although history isn't on his side) and maybe our LB's will stay healthy (and history isn't on their side), and things will be fine. Maybe Rod will be able to perform miracles on the O-Line and D-Line. Maybe Martz will truly unleash the potential of our skill position players. Maybe...

As you might be able to guess, that's too many maybe's in my opinion. Too many question marks born of seeing the complete ineptness of the players on this team for the last several years. There has always been potential, but little in the way of results. I promise to keep a wait-n-see approach until after we see these guys in action for a few regular season games next year. But right now, I'm not expecting too much.