The Detroit Lions continue to stay competitive with very good teams through twelve games in 2010. There are patterns emerging and the big question that everyone wants the answer to is why they can’t finish games. What is happening that makes this team hang with the NFL’s leading teams late into games and then collapse? We can see it happening before our eyes. You can point to a few plays every week that completely undo the Lions. Ultimately they come up short almost every week.
With all the losing happening here, there has to be some question about Jim Schwartz’s job security. While I think it is too soon for this kind of speculation I can understand why those that look at the win/loss column would speculate. It is obvious that Jim Schwartz feels this also and yesterday he tied his fate directly to Matt Stafford.
In his Monday press conference Jim Schwartz said “Nothing is going to take away from where we’re going as a team. This team has great things ahead of it. There’s no question in any one of our minds that this team has great things ahead.”
“There are a lot of keys to this league, he said. “I got up here two years ago and said ‘Obviously, the most important player on the team is the quarterback and I think we picked a very good one and we’ve developed a very good one.”
“We haven’t been able to keep him healthy. When we do, that’s going to be a big difference on this team. He makes a big difference. That’s no disrespect to Shaun Hill or Drew Stanton but there’s a reason when we took Matt (Stafford) No. 1 overall and a reason we chose him to lead this team.
“And there’s a reason that when you play teams that have quarterbacks like Jay Cutler or Tom Brady or Peyton Manning or any of those guys, that it makes a big difference on your team. Do we still have work to do? Sure we do. There’s no question we do.
“I’m not trying to justify our record. We’re not happy with where we are. But it’s not going to cause us to change course.”
When pressed about the number of losses and why he thought there were great things ahead he pointed directly to Matt Stafford. He said “The questions I was getting were more about the long-term future of this team and how I could have confidence in where we’re going to be in the long-term future of this thing … let me tell you how I have confidence in the long-term future of the thing is No. 9, that’s how I have confidence in the long-term future of this team.”
In doing so he tied his fate as the head coach directly to Matt Stafford’s ability to stay healthy and his development as a player. Make no mistake about it, there will be no room for another long absence from Stafford next year and another poor showing in the win/loss column will lead to Schwartz losing his job.
This is a ballsy move for Schwartz because an injury to Stafford is only one play away. If that happens, Jim Schwartz will have to shoulder the blame for having an injury prone quarterback as the reason to be confident about the long term success of this team.
He also stands to benefit from Stafford’s success. If Matt Stafford can come into 2011 healthy, if he can stay healthy, if he is what Schwartz (and others) thinks he is and most importantly if they win games then and only then will Jim Schwartz be secure.