We all saw this coming months ago: Jim Schwartz was going to be let go as Head Coach of the Detroit Lions as soon as the season was completed. Apparently, some in the Lions front office saw this coming last year, but didn’t want to eat three years of Schwartz’s contract. I guess two years is digestible to them, and they put those of us in Lions Nation out of our misery by doing what was obvious to the entire NFL world; Jim Schwartz had to go.
The evidence was overwhelming that Schwartz had lost control of the team. It’s no wonder that players pleaded with management to retain their head coach; the inmates were running the asylum. During his five years in Detroit, Schwartz’s teams were the most undisciplined in the NFL and were legendary for putting the pigskin in the hands of the other team. The worst indictment of his coaching regime was the team just couldn’t finish anything; games, seasons or handshakes. The fact that the Lions held second half leads in 13 of the 16 games and finished 7-9, is nowhere near as bad as finishing last year on an eight game losing streak, and finishing an unacceptable 1-6 this year. The only thing worse than all of that was the lifeless play the team showed in the last three games of the season. You could tell they just weren’t responding to their head coach anymore. They’d heard enough.
It’s time to sum up the what we’re going to remember Jim Schwartz for around here in Detroit. Some people might remember him for the way he got the Lions to the playoffs just three years after going an embarrassing 0-16 season. Some might remember how he instilled a new ferociousness to the toothless Lions when he got here. We forget now how lame the Lions looked on the field in 2008, before he got here and changed the culture to the one you see now. For better or worse, the reputation the Lions have is due to Schwartz. Some people might remember him for the way the Lions seemed to shoot themselves in the foot every chance they got. A lot of people are going to remember his team’s undisciplined play. For most of us though, he is going to be remembered for chasing down Jim Harbaugh after Harbaugh hurt his feelings during “The Handshake”. How embarrassing.
I’ll save for another day how Matthew Stafford greased his slide out the door, but for now it’s time to say goodbye Jimmy.
I’ll never forget that afternoon a couple of years back when I met you at your son’s team picture function, and we talked for about 20 minutes about a lot of things Lion related. It was a week after the draft, and you gave me some juicy inside stuff that I’m still not able to print here. Being a lifelong draftnik, it ranks as one the top moments of my life. I can’t tell you how special that was to me.
Like I said last week, The Lions are a crowded bus of rowdy guys, and that bus just stopped to drop off Jim Schwartz. It’s sitting there idling with the doors open waiting for the next driver.