ALLEN PARK, Mich. Criticism comes in many forms for NFL teams with playoff expectations who start 1-3.
For the Detroit Lions, the latest was delivered by an anonymous NFL general managers quotes in a story in Pro Football Weekly.
The GM reportedly had particularly negative words for coach Jim Schwartz, general manager Martin Mayhew, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and defensive end Cliff Avril.
Lions center Dominic Raiola took it all very personal.
If they had any balls, theyd say who they were, Raiola said of the anonymous GM. Thats kind of like a coward statement to me. Anonymous, thats kind of whack.
That fires me up. Thats taking a shot at the Lions organization. That aint right. Im going to say F em. I cant say the word. But Ill say F em.
If you dont take that personal, youre in the wrong place. They (Schwartz and Mayhew) work hard putting the right talent on the field. They bust their ass doing this.
Its on us to have their back. The best way to have their back is on the field.
The Lions take a three-game losing streak into Sundays game at Philadelphia.
Schwartz was considerably more subdued than Raiola when he was told about the GM quotes.
Anonymous? I cant comment on anonymous things, Schwartz said. Were 1-3. Thats the thing we are right now. We need to go win.
Were judged on winning in this league. Were not judged on popularity contests or what somebody says in cloak of anonymity.
Were judged by the number of games we win over the course of 16 games. Were a 1-3 team thats looking for a win. Thats enough for us right now.
As for the GMs direct quotes, here are a few examples:
They are not as close (to being a Super Bowl contender) as people have tried to make it seem.
They dont have enough good players, and the players they think are good are not that good.
Suh belongs on the All-Hype team.
Avril is not that good -- put on any game and you can watch him get blocked time and time again.
On Schwartz and Mayhew: Theyre both overrated.
Running back Jahvid Best, who hasnt played in nearly a year following a concussion, is eligible to return to practice next week.
First, hes expected to undergo a series of tests this week to determine whether he will be cleared for contact.
Hes going through some return-to-play protocol, Schwartz said. Those arent done by the people here. Those are done by independent neurologists.
Best hasnt been allowed to practice, but he does work out regularly with trainers.
Hes in better shape now than when he was a rookie, Schwartz said. Hes physically stronger. Hes smarter in our scheme. Hes done a really good job being in the meetings. Hes more flexible than hes been.
This isnt a guy whos been on vacation the last couple months. This guys worked extremely hard.
Best, who is currently on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, would be eligible to make his season debut Oct. 22 in a Monday Night game at Chicago if hes cleared by doctors.
We try not to get ahead of ourselves, Schwartz said. Hes doing what he can. When he gets clearance then hell be back.
Avril, who injured his back against Minnesota on Sept. 30, returned to practice Tuesday.
Im feeling good, he said. Im ready to get rolling.
Tight end Brandon Pettigrew didnt practice because of an undisclosed injury. Schwartz called Pettigrew's status day-to-day.