1. Competitiveness. How are they competing? They might have a difficult schedule, but I want to see how they compete against the Pittsburghs of the world.
2. Scheme. Last year's defensive schemes were horrible. One gap? Those were huge gaps everywhere. So many long runs where the RB went untouched, made it difficult for the Lions to compete.
3. Matt Stafford's development. This is the most important aspect for the Lions, but they need to compete first. Daunte Culpepper should not matter to the coaching staff, the onus must be on developing Stafford correctly. It will be tough to know just when he's ready, but they also cannot afford to wait too long. He has to be just right, and once he goes in, it must be for good. Don't play around.
4. Development of young defensive players. It is a must that the Lions get value out of the young players in their defensive line, if they're going to compete. Grady Jackson might be suspended, and can only play 15-20 snaps, so the rest of the DT snaps must go to young players other than Chuck Darby. Andre Fluellen has a chance to shine here, as well as Leonard Cohen. They need to provide a solid push that didn't happen last year, but that was a different scheme. Avril must continue to develop as a pass rusher, and it sounds like he'll have that chance. Alama-Francis needs to step up and be productive, because the Lions need to move ahead from Jared DeVries. They need to develop their young linebackers, such as Levy and Dizon, and get value from them. Corner is an extremely important position, since only one corner (Buchanon) has more than one year remaining on his deal.
5. Running Game. They have run well in the past few years, only because they weren't dedicated to the running game, and they threw the ball too often. The average/attempt was ok, but there were far too few attempts. They need to commit to the run, and must develop a running back committee. It's tough to keep running backs healthy for 16 weeks, so it's important they have a nice three man rotation going. It's possible their #3 running back will be Jerome Felton, as he's more of a tweener type than a real FB. He can bang in short yardage situations, and if either Aaron Brown or Antwone Smith show they can block enough to pick up blitzes, then they could very well be used also. I love Kevin Smth, but he and every NFL running back needs help.