2012 NFL Offseason: Detroit Lions' Character Problems Will Doom Them in 2012
Another week, another young Detroit Lion making the headlines for the wrong reasons.
Mikel Leshoure is the latest in a long line of Detroit Lions who have had run-ins with the law, and is now facing league disciplinary action. Roger Goodell has announced that the Lions' rookie back has been suspended for two games.
Nick Fairley, the 13th overall pick in 2011 has had two arrests this off-season, one for marijuana and one for drinking and driving. Leshoure had two problems with marijuana; Johnny Culbreath, a young tackle, had one earlier in the year. All three were guys the Lions drafted in 2011, by the way.
Throw in Titus Young's sucker punch incident, and we wonder if we won't see a repeat of last year where the Lions would make big play after big play, only dooming themselves by giving away yards on silly penalties permeated by uncontrolled emotions.
Head coach Jim Schwartz had implemented a "zero-tolerance" policy for shenanigans like this detrimental to the team.
He disciplined Titus Young by pulling him off the field and banning him from team facilities for a week. How will he react to Leshoure's latest indiscretion? Is the problem Schwartz' inability to be a disciplinarian of young men?
I'm not sure that's the pertinent question at this point.
A team like this needs some stability and continuity in a time where personnel plans are already being disrupted by unsuspected things like suspensions.
Detroit's running game last season was severely anemic, ranking 29th in rushing yards. Leshoure was drafted to be the power complement to the electric Jahvid Best, who is a playmaker but has never been able to stay healthy in a featured role. His concussion issues will come back to haunt him and the Lions if they overuse him.
Kevin Smith performed admirably down the stretch last year, but still, him and Keiland Williams are nobody's idea of top-tier runners that can balance Detroit's explosive pass offense.
The reality is that the NFC North is stacked as it is.
While the Minnesota Vikings might be the worst team in the NFL, if Fairley can't live up to his billing and contribute in the interior for the Lions, and Leshoure can't get his act together to help the run game, the Chicago Bears and defending division champion Green Bay Packers will leave the young guns in the dust.
There is a reason why talented guys like a Janoris Jenkins falls in the NFL draft because of character issues. It's because distractions like these are real and will create an atmosphere in the locker room that manifests itself on the field, like this dumb penalty by Brandon Pettigrew last season.
Your secondary is shoddy enough that Aaron Rodgers is going to throw for 400 yards on you anyway. Can you really afford to end your own drive on something that doesn't relate to a football play, or give him five extra yards?
The last prolific team with talented receivers and a big-armed quarterback, was, fair comparison or not, the Cincinnati Bengals in the Carson Palmer/Chad Ochocinco/TJ Housmandzadeh era.
I'm sure that's not what the Lions are looking forward to for the next five years.
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