In the early afternoon of Black Monday, reports surfaced that the Detroit Lions had parted ways with head coach Jim Schwartz after finishing with a disappointing 7-9 record after beginning the season 6-3.
This is the same Jim Schwartz who took the Lions to the playoffs in 2011, just three seasons removed from the worst record in NFL history, an atrocious 0-16. Schwartz took over a roster left with little talent and progressed steadily, moving the Lions from laughingstocks to respectability.
He came in, he embraced the culture of the city, and he helped to take the team to the playoffs for the first time in how long?
— Living Dead Man (@Reckoner67) December 30, 2013
So what happened? Why exactly was Jim Schwartz relieved of his duties as head coach of the Detroit Lions? Let’s set aside the win-loss records for a moment and ask ourselves: What exact things did Jim Schwartz do that were so bad? Sure, there were questionable moments of clock management. Some may fault him for a perceived arrogance or lack of accountability and discipline. Others point to him yelling at the home crowd as a sign of immaturity and lack of leadership. These are all fair points. So what did the decision come down to? Well, simply put, it wasn’t any of these aforementioned things. It all came down to one word.
Since the playoff appearance in 2011, the Lions have started seasons strong, only to fall flat on their faces (perhaps that’s even an understatement) as the season went on.
#Lions‘ record in the second half of the past 2 seasons: 2-14
— Greg Eno (@GregEno) December 30, 2013
It wasn’t pretty, ladies and gentlemen. Check out how the Lions slid in power rankings as the 2012 and 2013 seasons went on. (2013 Rankings are from SLR, 2012 were obtained from NFL.com)
The number on the y-axis (vertical) is the number of teams they were ranked ahead of. Both seasons we’ve watched Detroit get worse and worse as the season has gone on. That’s just not acceptable, and not how good teams operate. Good teams win late season games, and ideally peak late in the season. Jim Schwartz simply never got his Lions to do that in any meaningful situation.
There have been reports of Jim Schwartz not getting along with Martin Mayhew, which both denied a year ago, and Mayhew again on Monday. My feeling is that there was some tension, but I don’t believe it played a part in the decision to part ways. This was a decision based on the fact that Jim Schwartz didn’t get his teams to play to the level expected.
So, where do we go from here? Mayhew and Tom Lewand have already begun the search for the next head coach of the Detroit Lions. Many names have been mentioned, and speculation will continue as more names are brought up. We know limited details about what the Lions brass are looking for, but anything at this point is still just speculation. There will be connections brought up, like this one.
Martin Mayhew played for Lovie Smith and with Ken Whisenhunt. Hrmmm.
— SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) December 30, 2013
Whatever the case, this is a totally different situation than just a few seasons ago when Jim Schwartz was hired. This job is rated by some as the most appealing of the six NFL head coaching jobs available; the same could not have been said after the 2008 season.
Check SideLion Report often for the latest news, rumors, and speculation as the Detroit Lions continue their search for their next head coach.