"NFL Total Access" has continued this week with its "32 teams in 32 days" series. We decided to score some brownie points by writing an accompanying post each night. We'll focus on one goal that each team needs to accomplish before Week 1.
Lions must leave off-the-field issues behind
The Detroit Lions are coming off their first postseason appearance in ages, but you're not hearing much buzz about the team being primed to emerge as an NFC powerhouse.
Instead, the Lions are saddled with the narrative of a team in turmoil, thanks in large part to five prominent offseason arrests.
"Detroit is so young, they don't have the vets to tell the young guys to knock it off," one NFC personnel executive told NFL Network's Albert Breer last month. "In Pittsburgh or Baltimore, they can take guys, because there, in those places, they can't act up. They're put in that brotherhood, and they know if they do it, Ray Lewis is gonna come after their ass. When you're young and stupid, and there's no leadership, it can be a problem."
This is the challenge that faces the Lions as they approach Week 1 against the St. Louis Rams. They are perceived as an undisciplined team with the capability of self-implosion. Around the League asked Cliff Avril on Tuesday about the stigma facing Detroit.
"It's not right. It's unfair that you would put the whole thing on the team," said Avril, who is still looking for a new contract. "The guys that have gotten in trouble are fairly young. It's a learning curve for these guys, understanding that you can't do these things because it affects not only your teammates but your family, and so on. I think once the guys get an understanding (of) how this thing is run, they'll be all right. But it's not fair to make it a reflection of the whole team."
There's no doubting the Lions' potential. The offense is capable of greatness with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson leading the way. Strides need to be taken to fix a defense that fell apart late last season, but the Lions have reason to be upbeat about their future. The team just needs to leave some of the offseason's ugliness in the past.