First and foremost, I would like to convey apologizes for recent inactivity. It's a frustrating period of the NFL offseason, the NFL draft seems ages away, and the upcoming preseason looks like a small flicker of light at the end of a dark, long tunnel. The Lions haven't done anything spectacular recently, and nothing seems imminent. But there is an air of difference surrounding this post-Millen Lions team. Things are organized, crisp, and professional. This hardly looks like an 0-16 team. (If this post isn't up to my usual form please excuse me, I'm a bit rusty ;D )
With Marinelli the lockerroom and practices were best described as organized chaos. Recent reports from players describe coaches' instructions as contradictory and confusing.
In Detroit, the life of a lineman was maddening. [Jonathan] Scott said the communication breakdowns between the offensive coordinator and his offensive line coach ran rampant. One told him to step left on a play, the other said to step right.
These recent accusations against the former coaching staff is troubling. Normally, everybody from the Head Coach to the towel boy is on the same page. This was not the case in the Marinelli-era Lions. Marinelli and his staff didn't adequately teach our players in the intracacies of playing the pigskin. This could attribute to our numerous busts. With 7 rounds in a draft, it is impossible every draft bust can be attributed to Millen's poor scouting skills. SOME of them had to pan out out of pure dumb luck. I'm assured most of the failed draft picks can be blamed on a poor atmosphere
Atmosphere. Teams like the Steelers and Patriots are masters at creating a locker room where everyone is accountable, and all the players function as a team. The Lions didn't have this, which is interesting. It's common knowledge Marinelli prided himself on straight shooters-prompting some to say he cared more about character than talent. Last year, the Lions had high hopes. They just came off a 7-9 season and the longest rebuilding period in NFL history almost looked to be at an end. The year after however, the Lions go 0-16. The players feel disallusioned, how could such a negative turnaround take place? The fingers can be pointed at the coaching staff. Former and current players have identified the current and former Lions coaching staff with starking contrasts. The new coaching staff is professional, everyone is on the same page. The difference may be miniimal to some, but a good coaching staff and atmosphere can be the difference between 0-16 and 16-0.
Imagine an NFL rookie getting drafted by the Lions. He was highly praised throughout college and is expected to take the NFL by storm. When he arrives in the Lions training camp however, things are not as they seem. The camp is disorganized, and players seem to go by feel rather then what coaches tell them to do. There is no cohesion with the players and coaches. The offensive coordinator tells him to hook his man left, while the o-line coach tells him to simply bull rush. This rookie feels disallusioned, and his play falters. He becomes discouraged when he is eventually benched and begins the long road down being identified as "another Millen-bust" for the rest of his career. This rookie isn't the only victim however, nobody is on the same page and eventually the veteran's play dwindles. Jonathan Scott was in a similar situation. It's frustrating for all players, from the 52nd man on the roster to the all-pro receiver. What the Lions need more than ever is a leader to teach and develop our rookies as well as offer a level of trust between players and coaches.
Enter Jim Schwartz. Since he's arrived at the Lions, everyone's noticed the differences. Whenever a player is asked what feels different about the Lions, it's always the same answer, the coaching staff. The Lions have a level of confidence with Schwartz in the big seat, and it shows in the player's attitudes.
We’ve got new coaches who I really like and everything is different. We’ve got different spots in the locker room, different rules, even different parking spots. With the players we’ve acquired through free agency and hopefully the draft we can be a kind of Cinderella this season.
Last year we didn’t play a lot of football. We gave games away as soon as we went to practice. This year everybody wants to win, we have new players and new coaches and a new attitude.
Both of tthe preceding quotes were obtained from Kevin Smith's blog. Kevin Smith in particular seems excited for the new season, going as far as predicting the Lions to reach the playoffs. A tall order for an 0-16 team, but the new atmosphere surrounding Schwartz's new regime has been infectious, everybody is feeling it. K-Smith won't be the only one drinking the Kool-Aid
The New Regime