Lions fighting crisis in Week 1

September, 8, 2008
9/08/08
5:21
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

There won't be any finger-pointing in the Detroit Lions' locker room, quarterback Jon Kitna told reporters in Detroit on Monday.

"This locker room is the tightest locker room I've ever been a part of," Kitna said. "That's not going to be an issue. Everybody looked at the tape; everybody owned it after the game. I mean, there wasn't anybody who was pointing fingers one way or another -- we all said, 'Man, I wish I'd have done something more.' This locker room is tight and, like I said, that's not going to be a problem."

It's a little early for those kind of statements, but maybe it's to be expected after the 34-21 thrashing the Lions took Sunday in Atlanta -- a game that effectively wiped out a summer's worth of good tidings in Detroit. Coach Rod Marinelli had to dig deep into his optimist's bag of tricks Monday to provide damage control.

Speaking Monday in Detroit, Marinelli said his team's problems -- most notably its horrific tackling Sunday -- are "correctable." (Of course, the angle of the leaning tower of Pisa could be corrected, but that's part of its charm).

We were as guilty as anyone of ignoring the Lions' defense while focusing on their re-balanced offense and star receiving duo of Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson. The Lions added a handful of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who run the same defense Marinelli does, with the thought of fielding a more instinctive defense.

But as Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com wrote, it doesn't matter how well-schooled a defense might be, it still has to have the physical skills to hit, tackle and run. It's a little early to pass judgment against any defense, let alone an entire team, but it is now evident why Marinelli was so eager to sign free agent linebacker Takeo Spikes during training camp.

Marinelli had some preseason concern about his front seven and saw Spikes as someone who could improve it. As it stands, the Lions opened Sunday's game with oft-injured Paris Lenon as their middle linebacker, flanked by Ernie Sims and Alex Lewis. Rookie Jordon Dizon saw extensive action following in-game injuries to Lenon and Sims, and it will be interesting to see whether the Lions accelerate Dizon's learning curve and get him into the lineup sooner than planned.

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