The Schwartz Era (2009-13)
Head coach Jim Schwartz went 29 and 51 in five seasons (.363 win percentage), plus one playoff loss. To be fair, Schwartz did the best he could with a cupboard that was pretty bare. This is not the most favorable situation for a first time head coach.
Schwartz was hired by new general manager Martin Mayhew. This is an interesting choice, as Mayhew worked under and was hired by Matt Millen. So, when the Lions finally fired Millen, their first move was to hire his sidekick.
Mayhew followed much the same path as his predecessor, but was still better in comparison. Basically, he wasn’t the worst ever, so he kept his position. When Schwartz was fired, Mayhew was given the opportunity to hire a second coach.
The Caldwell Era (2014-17)
Head coach Jim Caldwell has a 36 and 28 record with the Detroit Lions, plus two playoff losses in 2014 and 2016. His first two seasons were under Mayhew. The final two seasons were under general manager Bob Quinn, who was hired in 2016. His record was identical under both general managers: 18 and 14, plus one playoff loss.
Caldwell’s win percentage (.563) is pretty significant. He has been, by far, the most successful coach in this last three decade stretch. The only coach with a better win percentage (.571) is Gary Moeller, but the sample size is only seven games in 2000.
The bar clearly has been raised for the Detroit Lions. Caldwell produced wins, but his failures to secure the division or win in the playoffs ended his tenure.
It is time for the Lions to have some stability at the top. For me, there are only two times that I’ve been excited by a Lions hire. First, February of 2003, the hiring of Steve Mariucci as head coach, which was a disaster. The second, January of 2016, when the Lions hired Bob Quinn. Outside of that: zip, zero, zilch in terms of excitement.
The Patricia Era (2018-)
We come to Matt Patricia. I truly am excited about this hire, but I have no idea what is to come. The one thing I keep hearing is that Patricia is astute when it comes to football.
Maybe under Patricia, as the saying goes, the Lions start playing chess, while everyone else is still playing checkers.
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is known as the ultimate strategist. When it comes to both Quinn and Patricia, the students must now become the masters.
For Quinn: the cold blooded roster moves, the smart drafting, and the depth of personnel that overcomes the unavoidable injuries.
For Patricia: the in-game adjustments, the innovative schemes, and the personnel adjustments to fit those schemes.
I trust the decision to hire Patricia because I trust Quinn. Quinn fired Caldwell because he didn’t do enough. My hope is that this new Quinn/Patricia combination takes the Detroit Lions higher than they’ve ever been.