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Published: Tuesday, 1/1/2008

Improved Lions still not happy with year

Jon Kitna, getting flipped against the Buccaneers in October, fell short of his goal to win 10 games. The Lions won seven. Jon Kitna, getting flipped against the Buccaneers in October, fell short of his goal to win 10 games. The Lions won seven.

The Detroit Lions won seven games, limping toward respectability with their highest victory total since Matt Millen took control of the franchise in 2001.

It isn't what Jon Kitna had in mind.

The quarterback, who said before the season he would be disappointed if the Lions didn't win 10 games, said the year was a failure after ending it Sunday by getting beat by backups in Green Bay.

Even though Detroit more than doubled its wins from 2006, Kitna said he was disappointed about a collapse that followed a strong start.

"I have a friend of mine that's into psychobabble," Kitna said. "He says that expectations minus results equals your frustration level. So, our expectations were higher and our results didn't match those."

The Lions raised hopes with a 6-2 record, then dashed them with a six-game skid and only one win in eight games.

In the Super Bowl era, about one-fourth of the teams that started 6-2 were relegated to watching postseason play.

"It's unfortunate, even a little embarrassing to start the way we did and then not make the playoffs," rookie receiver Calvin Johnson said. "We have a long time to think about that."

Detroit has not had a winning season since they went 9-7 in 2000.

The Lions are choosing to take their time announcing any possible changes.

Coach Rod Marinelli said yesterday he will meet individually with his staff, but he declined to confirm or deny reports that offensive coordinator Mike Martz would be leaving.

Marinelli, who often took the blame after losses, was blunt during his final address to his players in Allen Park, Mich., at team headquarters.

"You get what you deserve in the NFL," Marinelli told the team. "We have to learn from this season. We had a great opportunity in front of us.

"It becomes a self-evaluation. That's the only way you can look at it in terms of why we failed for those six weeks."

During the losing streak, Detroit blew opportunities to beat playoff-bound Dallas and the New York Giants at home. Marinelli said those games changed the season.

The Lions were 5-3 at home, but struggled on the road and became the first team since 1990 to lose by 30-plus points three times at San Diego, Washington, and Philadelphia.

The Lions plan to stick with Kitna as their quarterback and likely will keep the receiving corps together, led by Johnson and Roy Williams, but all other groups might be shaken up.

They will have the 15th pick in April's draft. Detroit's unrestricted free agents include linebacker Boss Bailey, offensive lineman Damien Woody, and running back T.J. Duckett.

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