The Detroit Lions and head coaches have a funny history. Funny as in the fact that they haven’t had a coach with a winning record since Joe Schmidt quit 40 years ago (Gary Moeller doesn’t count). They finally have a coach that other franchises wish they had, and the Lions treat the signing like they would as if they had signed a nobody off the free agent wavier wire. Ho-hum.
This whole contract negotiation between the Lions and Jim Schwartz was strange from the get-go. Then, they announced it on a Friday, late in the day, when everybody was already heading up north. I know that Schwartz wanted to stay with the team that he built from a rag-tag team that couldn’t have beat most of the teams playing in the Canadian Football League, to one that I think has a legitimate chance to WIN the Super Bowl in a few short years. He’s done an incredible job. So how come the Lions act like they had a gun to their heads, and reluctantly signed him to an extension?
Just as I’m sure coach Schwartz wanted to stay, I’m positive the Detroit Lions wanted him back in the worst way. Yet, there was always this negative undercurrent to the negotiations. The Lions did a very unusual thing when they re-signed the offensive and defensive coordinators contracts first, long before the Head Coach signed his Friday. Was this their way of pressuring Schwartz to sign sooner than later?
We know for sure that there wasn’t any news coming from Coach Schwartz on that subject. Whenever someone asked him a question about his contract negotiations, he would get that face, like the one when he felt slighted by Jim Harbaugh’s lack of sincerity. He wasn’t going to say a damn thing about it, period. I feel like Coach Schwartz seriously thought about rolling the dice and waiting to see what happens this year. Another playoff appearance or, dare we say, a Playoff WIN would greatly enhance his bargaining power, but in the end, he thought the distraction would outweigh any gain he might have gotten in waiting.
We have no idea what was going on at Allen Park’s closed doors regarding retaining the best head coach the Lions have had in 40 years. I would guess they did everything short of Mr. Ford himself stopping by his office on a daily basis asking him to sign on the dotted line.
The Detroit Lions have come a long way since the days of Darryl Rogers in 1988, sporting a 18-40 win-loss total, claiming “What’s it take to get fired around here?” Nowadays, the head coach is worth his weight in gold because he knows how to win and he has the support of competent personnel people behind him.