Dec 29, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz looks on during the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Vikings defeated the Lions 14-13. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
In a move many predicted, and Adam Schefter has just confirmed, Jim Schwartz is out as the Detroit Lions’ head coach.
The move comes after a second consecutive late season collapse, in which the Lions failed to make the playoffs by going 1-6 down the stretch, largely against teams with under .500 records. That follows a 2012 season in which the team went 4-12 after losing their last eight straight games.
It may not have necessarily been a “playoffs or bust” season when the Lions opened up their season against Minnesota, but it likely became that way when the Lions led the division at 6-3, and the Bears and Packers were both missing their starting quarterbacks. The Schwartz era has been one of missed opportunities, and this one was the last straw.
Schwartz finishes with a career record of 29-51 with the Lions in the regular season, and an 0-1 playoff record. It’s hard to say whether an 0-2 playoff record might have saved his job, but it’s a moot point now.
While Schwartz is out, Jay Glazer has reported that Lions GM Martin Mayhew will keep his job.
So, where does the team go from here? They’ve built up a talented roster of players, with a (potential?) franchise QB, great RB tandem, the best WR in the league, and incredibly young and talented lines on both sides of the ball. In addition, the Lions’ new head coach will have the 10th pick to work with in the draft. For once, the Lions job looks highly enticing.
But the Lions’ front office is likely to be looking for someone who can build upon the roster’s construction as it is, not blow it up. Schwartz’s problem wasn’t that he couldn’t build a talented roster, it’s that he couldn’t find success after building it. That’s why Mayhew is staying and Schwartz is out.
So begins a new coaching search then. Who wants to come coach a team built for instant success, which also has an advantageous draft positions and superstars locked up for the long term?
We’ll find out in the next couple of months.
UPDATE (12:45 PM): It looks like the firings aren’t stopping at the top.
This should come as little surprise. The underperforming offense was a big reason for the Lions’ failings this season, and the Lions need to be looking for someone who can develop Matthew Stafford out of his bad habits.
Even if the front office hadn’t fired Linehan, it’s likely that the next head coach would have brought in his own guy anyway. It seems the Lions are ready to install a new offensive system.