The Detroit Lions have been the talk of the NFL this past year, not always for the best reasons though. In only three years, the Detroit Lions turned a group of misfits who couldn't buy a win in 2008 to one of the best teams in the NFC last year. This also included the first playoff berth for the Lions since 1999.
On the other hand, four run-ins with law enforcement and a fight between players during practice have unfortunately reinforced the reputation the Lion's have created through the past year.
From Suh's two-game suspension for stomping on a Packers player on Thanksgiving to committing 11 penalties in a single game against the New Orleans Saints, the Lions have been known as a dirty team who doesn't care for the rules of the NFL.
Head coach Jim Schwartz has issued public statements saying the team will follow NFL directives, but here are a few things Schwartz can do to bounce back from this troubled offseason.
If Jim Schwartz wants to lead this team to a Super Bowl and away from these troubles, the best option is to lead by example.
It's very difficult to coach a team and tell them to remain calm when other teams push them if the coach can't do that exact same thing. The best example of this came at the end of the 49ers game when Jim Schwartz went after Jim Harbaugh following a postgame handshake and pat on the back.
The role of coach is to lead and direct the team. While I admire and enjoy watching the excitement and passion that Jim Schwartz coaches with, it can lead to incidents such as the one with Harbaugh.
If Jim Schwartz can hold his temper back and show the team how to act professionally, the Lions can begin to mature and perform together as a team.
Roger Goodell's word is law in the NFL. And while we wait to hear what fines and suspensions will be handed down to the select few players who have had trouble with their private lives and the law, all we can do is speculate.
While fines may not be as big of a deal, considering the multi-million dollar deals rookies are given after the draft, the inability to play up to four games in the regular season can be detrimental to a young team whose defensive line has been the most involved with this offseason's troubles.
The best option for Jim Schwartz is to use these problems as examples. By showing the rest of the team what reckless lifestyles and disobeying laws can cause, the Lions can work to improve their image and team chemistry.
The more the Lions can work together as a team and help each other stay away from the problems they faced this past year, the better.
The best part of the new season is exactly that: it's new. Last season is in the past and it's a fresh chance for the Lions to be even better. Each member of the Lions who has been in trouble in the offseason needs to serve the time dealt to them by the NFL and learn from it.
The Lions need to walk onto that field each and every week ready to perform to their best, and to be held to their best by their coach. Jim Schwartz doesn't need to rehash what happened in the past year, but instead push his team to be better. The Lion's could have easily made it farther than the first round in the playoffs last year.
With one extra win, the Lions would have traded places with the Falcons in the playoff seeding and faced the Giants. While it is nowhere near a guaranteed win, it would have been a much better overall matchup than against a destructive Saints offense.
Detroit can build off their past season, but they must not dwell on the losses. Instead, they should use them to learn from mistakes and be even better than last year.
The only real statistic that can be pulled from the trouble the Lions have had is they all involve members of the 2011 draft class. This past draft class has been one of the most unruly and problematic in a while.
It was known that the players drafted by the Lions had suffered personal problems in the past, but no one believed it would add up to this. These players are now exiting their rookie years. They need to act less like reckless kids who don't care about what they do and more like the professional athletes and role models they are.
Kids look up to these players, and when they see professionals acting like this, there is the chance they will mirror these actions. The last thing professionals need to do is influence kids to commit felonies and act like they do.
These players are in the public eye, and while it is their choice to disobey laws, they need to understand what the ramifications can be. If Jim Schwartz can hold his team to a higher standard, he can continue the success the Lions had last year.