Lions head into bye with glass half-full and half-empty viewpoints Print
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Thursday, 11 October 2007 13:29
NFL Headline News

 ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) -Jason Hanson is playing in his franchise-record 16th season with the Lions. That gives him a unique perspective on Detroit's 3-2 start heading into its bye.
Hanson knows some, such as coach Rod Marinelli, have a glass half-full opinion of the start because the Lions are only a game out of first place with as many wins as they had last year.
The standout kicker also has heard and read the skeptical viewpoints, which pin pessimism on a 34-3 loss at Washington last Sunday and a 56-21 setback in Week 3 at Philadelphia.
Frankly, Hanson agrees with both schools of thought.
``We haven't leapfrogged to another level because you can't play good one week and get throttled the next,'' Hanson said. ``But we have put ourselves in a position where we're playing for something, so that should be an incentive.
``Getting throttled two times should tell us: `You thought you were good? Take another look.' We're still a team that is scratching and clawing.''
Detroit has provided mixed messages, showing the resolve to rally in each of its three wins over Chicago, Minnesota and Oakland and perhaps a lack of talent in two embarrassing routs.
``We're 3-2 right now. That's the only trend I see: one game behind the leader,'' said Marinelli, who was feisty at his weekly news conference. ``We're right in it.
``That's what I see and that's what I'm driving at. I look at all five. Negative sells, so does positive. You go negative, that's fine. I'm going positive.''
Marinelli is also going to do everything he can to take himself out of the headlines after the break when the Lions host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who employed Marinelli for a decade before Detroit gave him his first shot at being a head coach last year.
``It's just another game,'' he insisted. ``You can believe that.''
Everyone, including Marinelli, believes the Lions need to be much more consistent on both sides of the ball.
Detroit's offense contributed three touchdowns to an NFL-record 34-point fourth quarter in the win over the Bears and scored 36 points in the season-opening win against the Raiders. But in nine of the past 10 quarters, its once-vaunted offense hasn't scored a TD.
The Lions have struggled to maintain a groove because they can't run the ball effectively and their line has had problems protecting, giving up 10 more sacks than any other team that has played five games.
Detroit has tried to run the fewest times among teams that have played the same number of games, and it leads just two teams in yards rushing.
Running back Kevin Jones has played the last three games after being out with a foot injury, and seems to be frustrated with how slowly the team is bringing him back. He had season highs with 11 carries and 48 yards rushing against the Redskins.
``I need to be in there consistently, getting touches so I can get in the rhythm of the game,'' Jones said.
The Lions have also been slowed on offense since receiver rookie Calvin Johnson hurt his back in Week 3. After scoring in each of his first two games, the No. 2 pick in the draft missed an entire game and was limited in another.
Like the Lions' offense, inconsistency has been a problem on defense.
Detroit had 11 sacks and nine interceptions in its wins. It had just three sacks in the losses and didn't pick off a pass.
The uneven play hasn't stifled confidence in the locker room or led to one unit blaming the other for anything.
Quarterback Jon Kitna still feels good about saying he would be disappointed by anything less than 10 wins, and he has plenty of teammates following his lead.
``We're a playoff team,'' defensive end Dewayne White said.
Detroit went into the weekend only a game behind the NFC North-leading Green Bay Packers and is the only team without a loss in the division.
``We have to think about the big picture, sitting second in our division with more wins than losses,'' offensive tackle Jeff Backus said. ``Even though we had a disappointing loss, we have to move on and think about the positives.''
Marinelli agreed, standing at the same podium where he boldly said the previous week that Detroit had a chance to be an elite team in the league if they cleaned a few things up.
``I talked to them and made sure they understand the belief I have in them and that the expectation has not changed,'' he said. ``We are a good team. We're 3-2.''
 

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