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What the Detroit Lions Front Office Wanting to Fire Schwartz After 2012 Says About Xanders, Ansah


Dec 16, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz during the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions front office reportedly wanted to fire Jim Schwartz after last season. MLive’s Justin Rogers did an excellent job digging up the report that apparently came out last week with little notice:

"Appearing on a SportsCener segment Wednesday morning, Werder speculated Schwartz would be fired if the Lions don’t make the playoffs, referencing that the coach was nearly canned last year as one of the primary reasons.“Then, there’s the fact that Schwartz was nearly fired last year,” Werder said. “Really, the only reason he wasn’t was Bill Ford Jr. felt that the buyout number in his contract was far too high."

That certainly adds a twist to the Schwartz hot seat watch.

The obvious takeaway is that the Lions surely have to make the playoffs if Schwartz is to have any chance of saving his job. Falling short of a division title in a year when everything, inside and out, was set up for the Lions only adds to the list of reasons Mayhew had for wanting to make a move last year. And with one less year remaining on Schwartz’s contract, the Ford family has less to lose financially from pulling the plug.

But let’s be honest, that much is obvious. What is less obvious is the clarity that we might gain on some other events over the last year as a result of this report.

Whose idea was it to hire Brian Xanders?
It’s the question everyone has wondered since it was announced that Xanders would be joining the Lions front office. Was it Mayhew’s idea as a way of strengthening the team or was Xanders forced upon him by an impatient owner? Considering Mayhew appears to be the only impatient one in the ownership-front office-coaching triad, it seems unlikely that Xanders was forced into the equation. The patience of Lions ownership is legendary. Ford Jr. stepping in the way of a general manager wanting to fire his coach isn’t congruent with the idea that he would then hire another front office executive.

The selection of Ziggy Ansah was legit.
The Lions coaching staff got to work one-on-one with Ziggy Ansah at the Senior Bowl, confirming that he was a near-perfect prospect for what they want in a defensive end. Knowing that Mayhew wanted a coaching change after last year means that selecting Ansah had to have been much more than a favor to Schwartz or the defensive coaches. A general manager already wanting to make a coaching change has to be selecting players he wants regardless of who is his coach.