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News » Schwartz must develop players, take his lumps

Schwartz must develop players, take his lumps

Schwartz must develop players, take his lumps
If the Detroit Lions get the No. 1 pick in next year's draft, they should sign Jim Schwartz to a long-term contract.

Imagine, a Lions coach who actually understands. Finally.

No more Rod Marinelli retreads. No more sacrificing development for the attempt at a victory. No more washed-up veterans stealing time from future players just to, optimistically, become mediocre.

The sad part is we may never know if some of the Lions' young players could have become starters or even quality backups. Marinelli and his cronies handled Drew Stanton so criminally, the former second-round draft pick has become nothing more than roster fodder.

There are always arguments that Matt Millen drafted poorly and had a habit of reaching for certain players. Evidence? Let me count the ways. Mike Williams? Jordon Dizon? Brian Calhoun?

But there also the other "busts" who were not reaches, who were selected at the appropriate points in the draft but were never given a chance.

Stanton's grade from Scouts, Inc. coming out of Michigan State was 87. He was listed as the No. 3 quarterback in the 2007 draft. He was picked in the second round, the fifth QB taken.

Conversely, Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman's grade was 85. He was taken in the first round.

Stanton didn't fit the Mike Martz mold and was quickly put on injured reserve, forcing Stanton to miss the entire season for a sprained right knee - an injury that would have kept him out for no more than six weeks.

It gave Martz more time to work with Jon Kitna, J.T. O'Sullivan and Dan Orlovsky. That worked well, didn't it?

Maybe Stanton was a bad pick. Maybe he was the type of player who is better in game action than he is in practice. Maybe he's a career backup.

The crime is that there are too many maybes. Because of Marinelli's love for familiar veterans and desire to get one win, we have no idea if Stanton or Ikaika Alama-Francis or Andre Fluellen or even Dizon can contribute.

Some "experts" will proclaim that they know they can't play at this level. If they could, the reasoning goes, Marinelli would have put them in the game.

That puts an incredible amount of trust in the ability of Marinelli and the rest of his coaches to evaluate talent. Given the evidence, I am not ready to make that leap of faith. I want to see it with my own eyes.

And in those brief glimpses, I saw Stanton scramble and throw a touchdown pass. I saw Dizon actually make a one-on-one tackle in the open field, an accomplishment rarely seen from the 2008 Lions defense.

Does that mean either are NFL players? Absolutely not. But a losing team that continues to give snaps to bad players who are not in the future plans of the organization is destined to remain a losing team.

My hope is that Daunte Culpepper starts at quarterback, with Stanton replacing him in blowout games or when Culpepper struggles. Keep No. 1 pick Matt Stafford on the sidelines, away from the carnage.

If Stanton succeeds, great. The Lions have two good young quarterbacks. If he fails, fine. Cut him.

The same goes with the other positions. At some point this season, I want to see Aaron Brown returning kickoffs instead of Aveion Cason. I want to see Derrick Williams instead of Ronald Curry or Bryant Johnson starting at receiver opposite Calvin Johnson.

I want to see Brandon Pettigrew and Sammie Lee Hill and DeAndre Levy and Zack Follett and Louis Delmas get playing time, even if it means the Lions are 2-14 instead of 4-12.

The new Lions motto shouldn't necessarily become "Just Lose Baby."

I would be happy with "Just Build Baby."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 5, 2009

Leon Joe Name: Leon Joe
Position: LB
Age: 26
Experience: 5 years
College: Maryland
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