Posted December 23, 2013

Jim Schwartz’s outburst at fans after loss typifies a tenure that needs to end

Detroit Lions, New York Giants, NFC East, NFC North
Jim Schwartz is coming to the end of his fifth season in Detroit.

Jim Schwartz is coming to the end of his fifth season in Detroit. (Paul Sancya/AP)

Let’s face it — Jim Schwartz had a tough job ahead of him when he was hired as the Detroit Lions’ head coach on Jan. 15, 2009. The former Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator was taking over a team that had posted the first and only 0-16 season in NFL history the year before, and the franchise had been driven into the ground by Matt Millen’s ineptitude. Schwartz was one of the new wave of bright guys in the league — a man noted for his attention to sabermetrics with a degree in economics from Georgetown, and it seemed that he might have the right balance of old-school toughness and new-school acumen to turn the Lions around.

With one game left in his fifth season, Schwartz has posted a 29-50 record, though the 2-14 record in 2009 was hardly his fault. In 2011, his Lions went 10-6 and made the playoffs — which seemed like it might have been the precursor to greater things. But it hasn’t been. That is the only non-losing season the Lions have had under Schwartz, and even if the team wins its regular-season finale against the Minnesota Vikings, the best the Lions can do is 8-8, and they were eliminated from postseason contention in Sunday’s overtime loss to the New York Giants.

The Lions have frustrated their fans with their combination of high-level talent and low-level discipline, and that frustration spilled over as the seconds ticked down in regulation of the Giants game. With a 20-20 tie, Schwartz’s team came off the field, refusing to play for the win at that point. The home crowd started to boo, and Schwartz turned to express his feelings about that reaction. Suffice to say, it was not pretty. Schwartz appeared to use at least one obscenity — depending on how your lip-reading skills are — and it was one more ding against a man who certainly seems to be on his way out as head coach.

After the Giants’ Josh Brown kicked a 45-yard field goal with 7:32 left in overtime, Schwartz tried to explain his side of the story.

“There was what, 19 seconds, 23, in that situation,” he said about not calling a timeout in regulation. “We didn’t have great field position. We tried to run a trap and hope to break it and try to get a first down right there. If we got a first down we would have been ready to jump on it, but we didn’t, and at that point I liked our odds in overtime as opposed to trying to take a chance. At that point, after the thing right there you have to weigh everything and the chance that we take a sack or have a negative play right there could have ended the game right there. We still ran a play that we thought could break it. We tried to break it out there. I think if he would have gotten a first down we could have been in a position, but after that play didn’t get a first down we were going to go in to overtime.”

As for his response to the boos?

“I was disappointed to hear boos. We were getting ready to go in to overtime right there. Our crowd is great for us and they support us. I thought our team needed a lift right there. We didn’t need to feel bad at that point. We just intercepted the ball that got us to overtime. I thought that just trying to get our team ready and that’s a tough situation when your players are getting booed, you want to keep them fired up and that’s what I was trying to do right there.”

But shouldn’t his focus be on the field at that point? After all, fans frequently boo when their team takes a knee or leaves the field in certain circumstances. And none of his players had that response — as receiver Nate Burleson told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

“I’m not mad at him for doing it because as many times as I wanted to I kind of stopped myself from saying something to a fan or two that I probably shouldn’t have. But it’s frustrating when you hear them boo because the same fan will turn around and praise you when it’s all good.”

Schwartz, however, insisted that his attention was not diverted.

“At that point we were taking a knee and we were just letting the clock run out after we didn’t get the first down in that situation and we were trying to gather the troops and get ready for overtime. I think at that point it wasn’t like we were running another a play in that situation and I was doing that. We were getting ready to go in to overtime. Our fans have been great for us. We needed them on our side in overtime and there was a reason we did what we did at the end of the game.”

That Schwartz couldn’t see the importance of keeping his composure in that situation embodies his time with the Lions, and the Lions themselves during his tenure. There’s always been a lack of impulse control, and whether it’s Detroit’s large number of penalties and plays outside the rules every season, Schwartz’s misunderstanding of challenge rules, his postgame fracas with San Francisco’s Jim Harbaugh, there seems to be a disconnect with Schwartz between what he wants to do as a head coach and what he’s supposed to do as a head coach.

“Speculation isn’t my job,” he said, when asked about his future. “Coaching is enough of a job for me.”

If the Lions fire him at the end of the season, that could sum it all up in one sentence.

105 comments
wolfwarner3
wolfwarner3

Player screws up bench him for a play or 2 does it again bench him again does it a third time bench him longer thats how you discipline then make the whole team do extra practice for 1 players mistake then everyone hates him so he will fix it ive seen better disciplined high school teams and so what if you loose for benching a guy youl loose anyway if their not disciplined and you get an interception every drive or holding or false start or interference I could discapline them better and im 14 do that and the problem fixes itself its all mental no such thing as tired no excuses it aint rocket science look at seatle if you take burleson and suh and farley and calvin johnson and reggie bush and matt stafford tben filled in the gaps with your average nfl player and played the seahawks who would win

6marK6
6marK6

When the main problem with your team is a lack of discipline and composure, you must look to the coach to see if his actions are in contrast to this. His actions actually mirror that behavior. His spiking of his headset constantly and outbursts, he is more of the problem than solution.

JeffreyClinansmith
JeffreyClinansmith

Keep in mind that in 2010, Stafford was hurt. 2009, Stafford was hurt. 2010 was his first real solid full season.  We might be looking at different numbers when describing Jim's career wins and losses as the Lions head coach.

TheDistrict
TheDistrict

Schwartz shouldn't get much credit for the turnaround, if you can even call it that (they did win four games last year and were gift-wrapped a number of wins this year). The league is designed so that bad teams can get better very quickly.If anything Mayhew and Lewand should get the credit. 

streets313
streets313

the whole coaching staff needs to go, the playbook is to simple and predictable and schwartz is scared to pull the trigger when the game is on the line. we need corners, they give up too many big plays down the field. a solid number 2 wr is in need! a true rb is in need, bush is a fumbleholic! and im sick of hearing stafford suck, i think he is pretty good he only been in the league 4 seasons and is finally playing full seasons and yes he threw some picks but i think those wr drops outnumber them picks, big end zone drops 2!

BigDaddyD
BigDaddyD

May the Schwartz be with you

Mark20
Mark20

This guy is way in over his head. With the talent on that team they should be much better. But if you don't have discipline and a good game plan, then all is for naught. Time for Jimmy to go.

ImmaFubared
ImmaFubared

He had a team full of prima donna's who at times had their own personal agenda. A lot of these guys played like demons to get into the first round, got the big money and started to play average ball, waiting for someone else to save the team.

Reminds of a real situation in NYC years ago: Woman was getting stabbed to death on the street at 8 pm one evening and hundreds watched it happen and no one called the police. She died. Later it was discovered that everyone assumed someone called the police. I see this in the Lions, everyone is waiting for the other guy to save them, make the play. 

bornindetroit
bornindetroit

Little Jimmy Schwartz must of been a real pain in the ars as a kid. Even now, as an adult, he NEVER owns up to his screw ups. He spun some garbage story on cussing out the fans! Caught dropping at least one f-bomb on us and doesn't have the balls to admit it!

Canuck
Canuck

The big knock on the Detroit Lions is that their players are so undisciplined.  It's easy to see why, when their head coach can't control his own emotions, either.  If the coach doesn't act like a professional, why should anyone expect his players to?


I don't have any horse in this race, but I live in San Diego and I'm a Chargers and Padres fan, so I know what it's like to support teams that constantly disappoint.  Despite the extreme financial hardships that Detroit has suffered, it remains a great sports city with passionate, engaged fans.  Any city in the country would be THRILLED to have the Red Wings and the Tigers, two top-shelf organizations that remain an ongoing source of pride for Detroit and the entire state of Michigan.

Detroit sports fans know a good team from a bad one, and when they boo the Lions, there is ample justification.  The fact that Schwartz gets his panties in a bunch when the fans call him out for his bad coaching decisions, and the poor, undisciplined performance of his team says everything you need to know about the man.  He needs to go.  Just like the Chargers needed to can AJ Smith and Norv Turner last year.  Sufficient time and opportunities have been wasted, and enough seasons lost.  There is obviously good talent on the Lions' roster, but no one currently on the payroll who can turn all of that talent into a functional, successful team.

ImmaFubared
ImmaFubared

Unfortunately it was the Ford Family in the stands that were booing. LOL 

I'm sure he was on a leash, win this year or else. the team has the highest payroll on any team so everything was on the line. Time for a change when the fans boo and the coach boo's back.

KeysSteven
KeysSteven

Another disappointing season for Detroit, to be sure, and “penalties” (Suh doesn’t do enough to cover) are a concern, but far be it for me or any other writer, Doug, to judge this man and his duties too harshly.  And certainly no need to defend childish boo-birds or Jim Harbaugh, for that matter.  If you (fans) can’t take it, don’t dish it out.


It was that ridiculous snow bowl game (PHI), followed then by Stafford’s INT-fest the next week that seemed to take Lions off track.  But it’s the whole North division that’s been off-track most this season.


Schwartz still has the team, they keep it close, they play with heart and the Lions will be contenders again next season, whoever’s in charge.  I’d give Jim another season, even if he is a saberhead.

RobertJacke
RobertJacke

Schwartz if you put a better team on the field the fans won't have booed, This Sundays game will be your last game coaching the Lions.........

AnthonyJPetroff
AnthonyJPetroff

The team, collectively, is a head case.


Like others, I thought if they would just stop beating themselves with stupid, ill-timed penalties, the talent would easily shine them through to the playoffs.


Amazingly, it appears they now find ways to lose; that makes them a collective head case, and that is probably something instilled from a mixed coaching message--kind of like a parent who wants to be their son's best friend instead of their parent.

RaymondSmith
RaymondSmith

Hey dummy - In case you haven't learned yet - You never attack your fan base. Worst HC in the NFL. 

riley8
riley8

A coach should never engage in fighting with the very people who pay his salary.  Sure this team was 0-16 a short time ago but this kind of action does not inspire confidence.  Especially when this team has enough talent to make the playoffs year after year.  

Mel
Mel

Schwatz is disappointed at the boos? Wonder if he considered that the fans are disappointed about the season....

Chuckster
Chuckster

As strange and unlikely as this sounds, Rex Ryan would be a good fit for HC with his focus on "D".  Bring in an OC that fits the Stafford needs and Detroit will with the North.  They have the tools in place, they need someone that can mold that talent together.   

DavidMcKinney
DavidMcKinney

First hire someone with a track record of hiring good coaches. They've screwed up the coaching hires since the 50's. You need someone that is innovative like Mike Marntz and plays to win. I have  never minded when they make mistakes of aggression but  if you keep making the same ones over and over when your playing not to lose that is crazy.

dodders
dodders

Our "D" is needs improvement...sorry I don't have a proof reader in my back pocket, but you get the point

Marty2
Marty2

Lions:  Sign a lean, hungry coach who feels the need to prove himself on the NFL level.  One that has some connection to Michigan - one who watched the Lions growing up.  One who can instill discipline and class to a team sorely in need of both.

dodders
dodders

One note here: did we not have leads in the 4th in those games? Stafford may have not taken the game over and might have even given a couple away with picks, but the "D" didn't do their job.


Our "D" is needs improvement, our Quarterback needs to learn how to concentrate for a whole season, Our coach and G.M. need to be held accountable for their actions or lack there of, and the Fords need to finally do what is needed to produce a winner.


I am just disappointed in this team, the owners and the staff, Every year Fords sell their product to be more than it is and every year we buy into it, they seem to be putting training wheels on a Mustang with this team.

dodders
dodders

I really wish i could find stats to back this up, i am sure they will show what i am saying to be true

dodders
dodders

Did you know....i seen a stat last night on the games where it was the last few years or whatever they showed fourth quarter comebacks and i think it was Romo that was number 1 and Stafford tied for number 2, Romo had 14 and Stafford had 10.


I am not saying Stafford is not to blame for the recent losses, just saying we cannot have dramatic comebacks every game.


As far as Stafford (having watched him the whole year) , I believe the talent is there for a winner, but in the end of the season he seems tired every year, seems he makes alot more mistakes after the half way point of the season than he does at the beginning. I am not sure what the answer is I just know he is good enough not to have that sort of meltdown every year at the end.




WayneWasserman
WayneWasserman

dodders....the Lions may be wasting Calvin's career...but Stafford is wasting his own career. His poor decision-making game after game (inaccurate throws, 2-3 turnovers seemingly every game) are destroying their chances to win close games. They have blown SIX fourth quarter leads. His turnovers in critical fourth quarter situations have cost them at least three or four of those games. Stafford clearly folds under pressure (at least as much as Tony Romo). Sadly, because of his monster contract, we Lions fans will be stuck with Stafford for at least another 3 or four years - if not longer. Now THAT really hurts!

dodders
dodders

What did the last team they called nasty do?...i think they won the championship, (Ravens) as far as the coach, he didn't stand a chance from the beginning, until the Fords hire a G.M. with rings and is proven the coach will not matter; no matter how good he is...can you see Gruden, trying to take this team anywhere?


Here is what will happen, first off the G.M. will get in the way with his input..(i still think it was the coach that got us to a point where our "D" is not laughable) then the owners, the Fords will give the G.M. the power to override the coach...so the ineptitude will be there no matter who we hire.


The solution is give us a winner as a G.M. one that is proven, give him 3 years (with the talent on this team it should only take that long to win a championship) and let him bring in a coach that is proven.


Here is what will happen....The Fords will fire who they fire, re-hire lack luster G.M's and coaches and we will fall short again, They (the Fords) will then start the "hype machine" for next year and all the fans will buy in and the disappointment will continue. They wasted Barry Sanders career here and they will waste Calvins and Staffords. (no rings)


The ONLY constant here is the Fords...It's time we start putting the heat on them

DrewS
DrewS

Any other team Jim Schwartz would be fired after the season he had but this is Detroit. They don't like to fire coaches or GM's. Won't be shocked if Jim returns for another year.

wolfwarner3
wolfwarner3

Just have stafford throw it 20 feet above the groud to calvin who else can jump that high

wolfwarner3
wolfwarner3

You should win some kind of award for that

JeffreyClinansmith
JeffreyClinansmith

@TheDistrict They lost 5 games while winning late in the 4th. Gift wrapped wins where handed out by this team too. It could have just as easily gone in the other direction. The little intangibles, or "thats the breaks" type of stuff were not played up to properly by many people on the team and on the field.

mystafugee
mystafugee

@ImmaFubared Yes, I totally see the same thing with a woman being stabbed to death and the Lions mediocre season.  

JeffreyClinansmith
JeffreyClinansmith

@Canuck This team does not suffer. They have the highest payroll in the NFL this season. The have one of the most luxurious stadiums in the NFL. The owners have been forking out money hand over fist. So please understand that this team does not suffer in or even with Detroit.

bornindetroit
bornindetroit

Well said. And look how Rivers improved with the coaching change finalllllly made by the Chargers. I suspect Ford gives Schwartz another year. $12 mil to buy him out today...

hry
hry

@KeysSteven Our problems go back a lot further than the Philly game, which was always going to be a tough one never mind the weather. The Lions were 6-3, Rodgers and Cutler were out, and they lost to the Steelers and the 1-win Buccs on consecutive weeks. A team with this much talent should have been 8-3 and shut down all discussion about who takes the division after that. Even 7-4 would have made it damn hard for the two other banged-up sides to come back. Both those games had all kinds of dreadful game management in them before Stafford imploded late in the season.


I can appreciate what Schwartz has done. He's turned them into a team that people can't push around any more, that other sides won't look forward to playing as an easy team. But he's not going to take us any further, that is the obvious takeaway from 2013. The Packers and the Bears had all kinds of injury troubles, we had virtually none, and we still blew it. He's gone.

JeffreyClinansmith
JeffreyClinansmith

@RobertJacke They booed because he took the team off the field with just under 30 seconds left to play and all you had to do was make a good play or two and kick for the win. He played for the win/loss/tie instead. How the Ford family does not fire this coach after that decision, with the entire season on the line, is beyond comprehension for me whom expects a winning attitude on the field.

Chuckster
Chuckster

@AnthonyJPetroff Typically, the ill-timed penalties with a talented team like the Lions can be attributed to frustration in many cases (not all).  Flip the page and if the Lions are playing like they are capable of playing, the penalties occur less frequently or ill-timed.  Young aggressive teams that get frustrated are very prone to penalties.


Also, it's not so much they find new ways to lose as it appears they are playing not to lose.  Teams like the Pats (and I can't STAND the Pats....avid Jets fan here) play to win and even when they play with inferior talent find a way to win more than lose.  The Lions issue is a coaching problem, not a player problem.

KeysSteven
KeysSteven

@RaymondSmith You must have your local Police Dept. on speed dial.  That's a pretty broad use of the word "attack," Ray.

Chuckster
Chuckster

@MelYeah..... just a tad arrogant or possibly naive to wonder about that.   There were high hopes in MoTown and they came up WOEFULLY short of those hopes.   The boos are warranted for Schwartz and staff.   They underachieved.

Canuck
Canuck

@JeffreyClinansmith I didn't mean to imply that the Detroit Lions franchise has suffered (or done without every advantage).  But I feel very compassionate for the ordinary *people* who live in Detroit, the regular folks who have had a hard time of things since the '08 economic collapse.  THEY are the REAL sports fans, not the rich corporate types, and those real fans deserve a helluva lot better than the Fords and the Lions have delivered.

strawwalker
strawwalker

@hry @KeysSteven The Lions lack discipline I agree but what is needed is a QB coach, Stafford with an empty backfield at 3rd and 1 in field goal range, facing an all out Blitz throws an interception.. Stafford should of called a time out...which he never does, and get the right play called in. That would mean a QB coach. Stafford NEVER throw the ball away, instead he throws it completely out of balance and it  intercepted. Stafford needs hands on coaching, stop making undisciplined plays and forcing them to work, when they cannot possible work

AnthonyJPetroff
AnthonyJPetroff

@Chuckster @AnthonyJPetroff 


.......with a team this loaded with talent but lacking focus, a good fit would be Shanahan or Gruden.


They say Gruden is considering Oakland, but it seems like Detroit has similar issues but much farther along with better talent.


Please don't offer Lovie.