Joey Harrington is well known to Detroit Lions fans for all of the wrong reasons. Drafted third overall in the 2002 NFL Draft out of Oregon, Harrington was supposed to be the franchise quarterback. Instead, he was anything but.
In his first NFL season, he led the league with 22 interceptions, and the team went 15-18 in his starts during his first three years.
Harrington conducted an interview last month in which he opened up about his time with the Lions, and pointed to a couple of specific instances that highlighted the troubles of those teams.
“I was looking at a protection and a potential blitz that would come off the back side,” Harrington said, “so I said, ‘Great, so I have this protected, I have this protected. If I get a weak corner and a WILL linebacker, a free safety and a WILL linebacker off the back side, can I just redirect the protection? Do I have a slide adjust on the back side?’ And they said, ‘No, you just have to buy time and make a play.’
“I was like, ‘Wait, what do you mean buy time and make a play? I have an 18-yard comeback out there. I’m not fast. You’re not drafting me because I’m fast. You’re drafting me because I’m smart. You’re telling me I have to make a guy who’s more athletic than me miss? That doesn’t make any sense. Why can’t I just redirect the protection and protect myself and then make a good throw?”
“And the answer to me that I will never forget is, ‘Because that’s not how Bill Walsh did it.’ And at that moment, I should have known this was a sinking ship. Because they were so afraid to move on from the ideas that had been successful 10, 15, 20 years ago that they weren’t willing to let other good ideas into that space.”