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 Kitna's absence rendered Colts game meaningless 
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Color Commentator - John Madden
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Post Kitna's absence rendered Colts game meaningless
Mlive wrote:
Kitna's absence rendered Colts game meaningless for the Lions
by Tom Kowalski
Sunday August 26, 2007, 5:09 PM



It started out as an excellent test for the Detroit Lions as they prepare for the regular season, but it ended up being a three-hour waste of time and energy on Saturday night. The Lions were hammered 37-10 by the Indianapolis Colts and head coach Rod Marinelli can bemoan the fact that the run blocking wasn't crisp and the tackling was poor, but that's not what this game was all about.


The original plan was for the Lions and the Colts to go head-to-head for the first 30 minutes of the game. Both teams would play their starters and, while they wouldn't show everything they had, they were going to treat it like the real deal. In fact, Marinelli said earlier in the week that you "couldn't write a better script.'' Both the Lions players and coaches were fired up about testing their team against the defending world champs.

That all changed dramatically when the Lions decided that quarterback Jon Kitna wasn't going to play because he wasn't 100 percent healthy from back spasms he had suffered earlier in the week. The fact that DT Shaun Rogers (knee) and WR Mike Furrey (knee) weren't going to play was bad enough, but it was Kitna's absence that changed Detroit's focus from a high-energy tune-up to a meaningless practice game.

Marinelli will try to tell you publicly that it shouldn't matter if Kitna's in the game. In the regular season, OK, I'll buy that because injuries are a part of the deal. In this situation? No way. You can't tell us that Kitna is the unquestioned leader of the offense and the team and is playing at the "highest level'' and then, in the same breath, tell us that it doesn't matter if he's on the field or not. The whole idea was to pit your best against their best and see where you stand.

The Colts had their guy -- Peyton Manning -- and they came out with guns blazing.

A little background -- Colts head coach Tony Dungy has no use for the preseason except for the first half of the team's third preseason -- or "dress rehearsal'' -- game. Look at the numbers: Dungy is now 5-1 in those games as the Colts head coach and, in the rest of the preseason games, he's 4-14. This game mattered to him and his players.

This was going to be a "big picture'' game for the Lions, or at least the first 30 minutes would be. The Lions knew the only way they'd be able to hang with the Colts is if they kept pace on the scoreboard. You would have to be criminally insane to believe the Lions were going to win a defensive struggle with the Colts on their home turf. With Kitna on the bench, the Lions knew it wasn't a fair fight. They didn't quit, but the focus completely changed. You simply can't tell a group of players "OK, this game is of no importance for the quarterback, but it's very important for YOU.''

Players know better. They know that deep down where their competitive fires burn that this wasn't a competitive situation at all. NFL players will tell you that the intensity level rises significantly from a regular season game to a playoff game. Does that mean the players aren't trying as hard or aren't as professional during the regular season? Of course not. It's human nature -- the intensity rises when the stakes are higher.

You can dwell on the individual things if you wish -- Keith Smith's poor tackling, Troy Walters' lack of focus or J.T. O'Sullivan's shaky performance -- but the fact of the matter is that the Colts were playing the game with an intensity a few notches higher than the Lions.

And this isn't revisionist history. In a pregame radio show, I told Art Regner -- when I knew Kitna wasn't playing -- that this was going to be a bloodbath. It was going to be the Harlem Globetrotters and the Washington Generals. I knew the Lions were going to get slaughtered and it meant absolutely nothing. Anybody who knows this team could see this coming from a mile away.

This game was good for nothing but ammunition for the coaches to show the tape and get after the players for things they have to clean up -- just like any training camp pracatice. As far as what the Lions are truly capable of and as a gauge for how far they've come -- or how far they've got to go -- Saturday's game was nothing but a waste of time and energy.




Believe it or not I actually agree with Killer this time. Whether you like it or not Kitna is the leader of this team and when he's in they think anything's possible.

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August 27th, 2007, 7:45 pm
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Kitna plays in our secondary? :wink:

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August 28th, 2007, 12:13 am
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didnt the defense suit up?

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August 28th, 2007, 9:08 pm
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swirvin wrote:
didnt the defense suit up?

I think thats the point. Everyone knows are defense blows so unless Kitna is out there flinging the ball around we are doomed. The real question is can Kitna fling it for his ten wins? With all his turnovers I think not, but he will keep us close in games....I think.

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August 28th, 2007, 9:31 pm
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I am not sure if I grasp that point.

The Lions' defense got a real audition. We know the secondary sucks rocks.

Kitna was out so we did not get to audition the offense. Still, considering that the defense will be giving up 27 points a game and we cannot run the ball, what kind of numbers would Kitna have to put up for us to be .500?

4800 Yards, 35 TDs, 15 INTs?

Anyway, I do not see how that rendered the game meaningless. We do not know WHAT the offense can do. But unless Kitna has his career year we will for sure be picking in the top 10.

I don't know about anybody else, but I took a lot of meaning out of that "meaningless" game.

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August 28th, 2007, 10:40 pm
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