Are the Detroit Lions Becoming the NFL's Most Embarrassing Team?

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystMarch 29, 2013

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 22:  Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions throws a second quarter pass to Calvin Johnson #81 while playing the Atlanta Falcons at Ford Field on December 22, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. Atlanta won the game 31-18. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Sometimes, the light at the end of the tunnel just turns out to be a truck headed straight for you.

At least that's what it must feel like to be a fan of the Detroit Lions most of the time.

After a 2011 season that saw the team win 10 games and make the playoffs for the first time in over a decade, it appeared that finally, mercifully, the Lions were finally headed in the right direction.

Then the team lurched through a terrible offseason marred by repeated player arrests, a 10-win 2011 was followed by 12 losses in 2012 (including defeats in their last eight games), and here we are again, with the Lions picking in the top five of the 2013 NFL draft.

Not only that, but this offseason hasn't been especially kind to the Lions either. Whether through release, retirement or free agency, the Lions watched both of their starting offensive tackles and both of their starting defensive ends leave town.

There's been some off-the-field trouble, too, although it isn't nearly as bad as it was a season ago.

As Dave Birkett of The Detroit Free Press recently reported, safety Amari Spievey was arrested in Connecticut and charged with felony assault after an altercation with his girlfriend.

An ill-fated appearance on the reality show Splash (Seriously. There's a show about "celebrities" diving into a pool of water. That's what America's come to.) left defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh with a bloodied lip and lucky that he wasn't hurt worse.

Is that what the Lions have become (again)? A reality show? An embarrassment?

I wouldn't go that far just yet, but the ice under the team isn't getting any thicker.

On the field, some of the losses either were unavoidable or weren't necessarily losses at all. The loss of both starting offensive tackles hurt, especially since Jeff Backus waited so long to decide to retire, but there wasn't a lot to be done about either his departure, or Gosder Cherilus leaving in free agency.

Ditto for defensive end Cliff Avril. Batterymate Kyle Vanden Bosch was an over-the-hill cap casualty, and the team has already taken steps to bolster the defensive front with the addition of Jason Jones, who is a solid—if unspectacular—pro.

Continuing to address the holes up front will all but certainly be a priority for the team in the 2013 NFL draft, and it's vital that the Lions make wise use of the fifth overall selection.

As far as the off-the-field junk, it's past time that it stopped, and a message needs to be sent.

I get that these players are grown men and shouldn't need babysitters, but there's been more nonsense involving players over the past couple in seasons in the Motor City than seemingly in the rest of the NFC North combined.

Actually, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune, the Minnesota Vikings lead the division in brushes with the law over that stretch.

Regardless, at least some of that is on head coach Jim Schwartz, just as some of the blame in Minnesota should lie with Leslie Frazier.

Unless Spievey is completely exonerated, he should be released.

Given Suh's annual salary, it should be made abundantly clear that the only thing he should ever be diving near is an opposing quarterback.

You would think that Schwartz would understand that. He should realize that another woeful season in Detroit will probably cost him his job.

Unfortunately, 2013 doesn't look especially bright for the Lions.

Yes, the addition of running back Reggie Bush should add some balance to the offense that hopefully results in improved play from quarterback Matthew Stafford, who regressed badly in 2012, with his touchdown passes dropping by over half from 2011 and his passer rating plummeting nearly 20 points.

However, as I said earlier, both lines remain a big question mark, and while the team has taken some steps to improve a porous secondary last year, they're also still embroiled in a seemingly constant search to find a reliable second wideout to pair with megastar Calvin Johnson.

In a division that fielded two playoff teams last year, and with a schedule that includes the always tough NFC East and an AFC North that includes the defending Super Bowl champions, it's very hard to see the Lions cracking .500 in 2013.

With that said, while there may not be any silver and Honolulu blue parades in the near future, at least fans of the Detroit Lions can take solace in one thing.

They don't root for the Oakland Raiders...or the Cleveland Browns...or the New York Jets...or the...

You get my point.