POSTED 9:33 a.m. EST; UPDATED 10:15 a.m. EST, December 5, 2005
by Mike Florio

For anyone who thought the Lions would be better without coach Steve Mariucci, think again.

Despite a final score and a final drive that made the game seem more competitive than it really was, the Lions lost in the first game of the post-Mooch era -- marking the eighth straight defeat to their NFC North rivals from Minnesota.

But for the play of Detroit line-clogger Shaun Rogers, the Lions might have lost by 30. But for a poorly-timed roughing the passer against Vikings toiler-clogger Pat Williams, which wiped out a pick-six by Minny corner Brian Williams, the Vikings would have been up 28-9 with roughly 10 minutes to play.

The end result (a 21-16 defeat) was still a loss, and an ugly one it was.

Adding ugly to ugly was the deactivation of receiver Charles Rogers, who actually got some reps at the "Z" position in practice last week before being shut down again on game day.

"Ain't nothing changed with me," Rogers said, according to The Detroit News. "I've been practicing hard, doing what I'm supposed to do. I've done everything in my control, in my power that I can control."

Tight end Marcus Pollard agreed with this assessment. "I don't know why [Rogers did not play]," Pollard said. "He's a talented player. He comes to work every day. That's the coaches' or management's decision why he's not playing. It's hard not to see him in uniform because I know what kind of competitor he is."

Meanwhile, some league insiders strongly believe that the real problem with the Lions is a horrendous offensive line -- one of the absolute worst in the NFL. Because of the line's inability to buy time for quarterback du jour Jeff Garcia (editor's note: "du jour" does not mean "is gay"), Garcia rarely got the ball down the field. Instead, he was looking for the short passes almost exclusively.

Many of the short passes were badly thrown. And when the short passes weren't badly thrown, they were dropped. And when they weren't dropped, the guys who caught them were tackled quickly.

Back to Mariucci, some might disagree with the notion that he's better suited to coaching veteran teams. ESPN's Chris Berman, for example, explained over the weekend that Mooch helped mold a young 49ers team in the post-Steve Young era.

The difference is that Mariucci was already in place when San Fran brought in youngsters. In Detroit, there was already a nucleus of newbies that was naturally less inclined to respond to the new guy. And youth in and of itself isn't a bad thing; in the Lions case, many of the youngsters are also complete turds.

So it all falls back to CEO Matt Millen, who hired the coach and collected the caa-caa. Whether the head coach's last name is Mariucci or Lombardi or Halas or Kotite or Steckel, the Lions stink -- and the guy ultimately responsible for it is the guy who should be politely invited to get the F-150 out of town.