THREE AND OUT: Lions own worst enemy in Suh aftermath

FIRST DOWN

Has there ever been an 11-win, playoff team more frequently belittled during the next offseason than the Detroit Lions?

I doubt it.

Much of it has to do with losing All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in free agency, which is understandable, but many of the sports-radio rants have gone completely overboard for a team coming off a pretty good season.

The rage is largely the result of years of built-up frustration toward an organization that’s won just one playoff game since 1957.

Still, the overall anger around here this offseason is usually directed at four-win teams, not those that made significant strides under a first-year coach the previous season.

The Lions’ front office is to blame for some of the non-stop criticism being heard, simply because of the way it handles its business publicly at times.

President Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew led fans and the media to believe that there was a good chance Suh would return. Lewand made it sound as if a re-signing was almost imminent during a television interview on Super Bowl Sunday.

Somewhere it all broke down and when it did, Lewand and Mayhew would have been smart to address the issue as soon as possible.

Instead, they waited for two weeks and then didn’t even answer any questions for much of the local media, choosing instead to wait to talk until they were in Phoenix for the NFL owners meetings.

What’s more, Mayhew spoke one day and Lewand the next.

That’s just dumb PR.

If there’s a story in which you’re going to face criticize, get it over with as soon as possible. The Lions turned what could have been more of a one-day story into multiple days of ridicule back here.

It was the hot topic when Suh made his decision. It was the hot topic again when the Lions traded for his replacement, Haloti Ngata. And it continued to be the hot topic after Mayhew and Lewand finally spoke.

Some of the verbal attacks toward the Lions were coming and unavoidable under the circumstances, but it didn’t have to be dragged out so long.

Next time, guys, just get it over with as soon as possible.

It will help calm some of this rage directed at you and your team, which deserves a little more credit than it’s getting right now for a decent season.

SECOND DOWN

Oddsmakers either anticipated Suh’s departure or they’re not reacting as strongly to what some consider a tremendous blow for the Lions.

Detroit was 33-1 to win the Super Bowl on Feb. 2, according to the Bovada sportsbook, and it’s still 33-1 following the free-agency frenzy around the league.

Of the 32 NFL teams, 22 have had their Super Bowls odds adjusted, either higher or lower, during that time.

The Lions currently have the second-lowest odds among NFC North teams, behind Green Bay at 7-1, and ahead of Chicago and Minnesota, both of whom moved from 40-1 to 50-1.

Season-win totals won’t be released until after the NFL schedule is officially announced next month.

THIRD DOWN

Coach Jim Caldwell recently confirmed that Riley Reiff will play either left tackle or right tackle this coming season, putting to rest rumors that Reiff could be switched to guard.

The fact that Reiff might be moved from the left side to the right, however, suggests that the Lions will seriously consider drafting an offensive tackle in the first round.

Daniel Jeremiah, an analyst for the NFL Network, is currently projecting Florida offensive tackle D.J. Humphries to the Lions with the No. 23 pick overall.

"Humphries is the top pass-blocking tackle in this draft class, and fills a need for the Lions," Jeremiah said.