Detroit Lions: The 5 Biggest Media Misconceptions About the Lions

Chris MaddenAnalyst IIJuly 2, 2012

Detroit Lions: The 5 Biggest Media Misconceptions About the Lions

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    The Detroit Lions have certainly received their share of media attention since the end of the regular season. While it might seem that most of it was negative, they've received high praise as well. They're an up-and-coming team with several high-profile players.

    As a result, the media has been fairly positive regarding the Lions outlook for 2012.

    With that said, when four different players commit drug- and alcohol-related crimes in one offseason, there's bound to be negativity. The media was all over those stories, and for the most part, the negativity was warranted.

    As is often the case, the media didn't get everything right though. In fact, there are a number of media misconceptions out there about the Lions.

    Here are five of the biggest ones.

5. The Lions Are a Dirty Team

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    The Detroit Lions had to endure the media's "dirty team" label the entire 2011 season. While the fervor may have died down, it's not completely gone.

    Their legal troubles this offseason only encouraged detractors to toss the label around again, even though one doesn't really have anything to do with the other.

    As with most misconceptions, this one was born from overgeneralization and exaggeration. The media targets the Lions because they commit a high number of personal fouls, and there have been some high profile incidents.

    Ndamukong Suh, who was involved in most of those high-profile incidents, is also the perfect villain. The media loves the good vs. evil storyline and has pounded the story into the ground.

    Here's why they're wrong.

    The Lions aren't dirty. They simply play hard and push the limits of what's allowed. That's not dirty; that's just trying to win. They play through the whistle. Teams who don't, or want to take plays off or give less than 100 percent, don't like that.

    The Lions are undisciplined though. They lack control, and many of their personal fouls last season were retaliation. Examples include Brandon Pettigrew and Titus Young's penalties in New Orleans and Suh's stomp for example.

    The media is labeling the wrong team dirty. Other teams routinely goad the Lions into reacting, and they do. The media should report on how immature, undisciplined and emotionally reactive Detroit is.

    In reality, the Lions aren't any dirtier than every other NFL team. The only difference is their youth and lack of self control. If players like Young and Suh can make major improvements in that area, the "dirty" tag might finally disappear in 2012.

4. Matthew Stafford's Numbers Are Inflated

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    Matthew Stafford has been included in several lists and rankings this offseason, and in each one, he was undervalued.

    In the NFL Networks list of Top 100 NFL players Stafford was No. 41 and in Ron Jaworski's QB Countdown he was No. 14.

    This is far too low for someone who threw for over 5,000 yards and 41 touchdowns.

    One reason given for such a ranking is Stafford's relatively small sample size. Last season was his first starting all 16 games, so there's validity to that argument.

    One argument that isn't valid is that his passing numbers were inflated because of Calvin Johnson. In other words, Megatron was so great that any quarterback could've put up elite numbers.

    That is simply inaccurate. Every quarterback's passing numbers are, in part, products of their receivers. You really can't have one without the other. If you discount one signal-caller, you have to discount all of them.

    Tom Brady was one of two quarterbacks who actually threw for more yardage than Stafford last season. He had two receivers—Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski—who accounted for over half of his total passing yards.

    They also accounted for nearly 75 percent of his touchdown total.

    Is the media discounting Brady's season because of his receivers? No, they're not. That's because Brady has been great for years. That's why Stafford cannot be considered in the same class as Brady yet.

    It doesn't mean Stafford's numbers aren't legitimate though.

    The media can talk all they want about Stafford's small sample size, but when they undervalue his performance because of Calvin Johnson, they lose credibility. 

3. The Lions Won't Make the Playoffs Because the Chicago Bears Will Be Better

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    OK, this is probably more of a prediction than a misconception, but it's wrong so I've included it.

    About one week ago, this article appeared on ESPN. In it, John Clayton predicted which 2011 playoff teams wouldn't repeat.

    The Detroit Lions were included. Clayton estimates that the Packers are still No. 1 in the NFC North, and the Chicago Bears made more offseason moves and are therefore better.

    As Lee Corso would say, "Not so fast my friend!" While it's true the Bears did bring in some high-caliber free agents—Brandon Marshall and Michael Bush—that doesn't automatically make them better than the Lions.

    How many times have we seen teams bring in big-name free agents only to crash and burn? The 2011 Philadelphia Eagles anyone?

    Let's not forget that Marshall is a wild card. His antics could potentially cost the Bears team chemistry, and ultimately, wins.

    The Lions returned 21-of-22 starters, so they didn't need to play the free-agent game. That doesn't mean they won't have valuable additions this year. Mikel Leshoure and Jahvid Best are healthy and will give the Lions a running attack that could be one of the best in the NFL.

    The Lions also improved their secondary with an under-the-radar signing—Jacob Lacey—and through the draft.

    Perhaps, most damaging to the Bears' chances is the status of their best player: Matt Forte. He's unsigned, and a holdout could be eminent. Bears players won't admit it, but if this happens, it could be a distraction all year and seriously affect their chances for success.

    I guess Clayton forgot to mention that.

2. The Detroit Lions Can't Unseat the Green Bay Packers

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    It seems to be a foregone conclusion that the Detroit Lions will again battle for the wild card in 2012. The reason for this is a nearly unanimous feeling that the Green Bay Packers are untouchable.

    Granted, the Packers have Aaron Rodgers who has been arguably the best quarterback in the NFL the past two seasons. He led them to a nearly undefeated season in 2011 and won the Super Bowl in 2010. His average QB rating during that time was an amazing 111.

    Green Bay has had the Lions' number over the years as well. They defeated Detroit three out of the last four meetings. However, there's no doubt the gap has shortened.

    Detroit was a healthy secondary away from splitting the series with them last year.

    Detroit will be better this year. The secondary will be improved, and they'll actually have a running game to balance out their offense. In fact, with Nick Fairley pairing up with Ndamukong Suh up front, the pressure on opposing quarterbacks should be significantly better as well.

    To simply pencil in Green Bay as NFC North champions based on prior seasons is misguided. The division as a whole will be better, and the Packers won't win 15 games again.

    At the very least, that means it will be a much closer race.

1. The Lions Are out of Control and Need to Be Punished

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    In light of all the legal troubles four players found themselves in this offseason, there's been no shortage of Lions stories in the media.

    Every Detroit fan has heard the rallying cry to punish the franchise for the misdeeds of several individuals.

    In fact, Mike Florio of cbssports.com has led the charge. In this article he rants about the Lions failure to take action against the players in question and surmises that they're simply hiding behind the CBA.

    He mentions several instances where NFL teams suspended or terminated players in similar situations. Similar but not the same.

    Each one of those incidents occurred during the regular season. Detroit's quartet of criminals did their business during the offseason. Prior to training camp even. Florio and other's demand the Lions take control, but in reality they don't have a lot of control right now.

    If these incidents had occurred during the season, these players would have been benched so hard they'd be picking splinters out of their....well you get my point.

    Besides, when will the media realize that NFL teams are in the business of winning football games not employing choirboys. DUI's are obviously not good, but teams aren't motivated to "make an example" out of somebody that helps them win games.

    In a separate article, Florio suggests that the NFL begin penalizing teams such as the Lions by taking away draft picks. He believes this will encourage teams to shy away from players with "off-field troubles".

    If that happened than the NFL Draft would only last 10 minutes. There would be no players to draft and no one to draft them.

    This rash of arrests is concerning, but in reality the Lions are no different then every other NFL franchise. They're not going to overreact and they're giving the players the benefit of the doubt to change.

    The number and close proximity of the arrests simply created a media frenzy and the Lions are left to face the music.