The Jim Schwartz Era Has Begun for the Detroit Lions

Keith SheltonAnalyst IJanuary 15, 2009

Here we go, Detroit—are you ready for a new coach? Jim Schwartz has been hired to be the next head coach of the Detroit Lions.

The Lions will hold a press conference on Friday to formally announce the hiring.

My first impression right off the bat is, well, thank God his last name doesn't start with an M!

All joking aside, though, this was a very important hire for the Lions. It was perhaps the most important coaching hire this organization has made since Bobby Ross came into town.

Jim Schwartz will be the man charged with the monumental task of bringing the 0-16 Lions back to the playoffs.

Of course, this was high-hype time for Schwartz. His Titans just completed a season where they had the best record in the NFL, largely because of their outstanding defense.

Schwartz had some outstanding players on that defense, like Albert Haynesworth and Cortland Finnegan.

If you're looking for the equivalent of that on the Lions, the closest you're going to come is Cory Redding and Travis Fisher. Not exactly inspiring.

Schwartz might be a great defensive coordinator with the right pieces in place but somehow I don't think he's a miracle worker and what the Lions need in order to have a quick turnaround is nothing short of a miracle.

So, we've established that Schwartz cannot be judged solely by his ability to morph the Lions defense into superstars in just one year.

Here's what Schwartz can be judged on, almost immediately.

His ability to hire solid coordinators.

Rod Marinelli did a horrible job of picking credible coordinators. Mike Martz undermined Marinelli's authority at every angle and had to be fired. Joe Barry was Marinelli's son-in-law and just provided a good example of why not to hire your family to run a team.

The only decent position coach on that team under Marinelli was quarterback's coach, Scot Loefler, and I say that because of Dan Orlovsky's noticeable improvement under Loefler.

Schwartz will need to hire credible coordinators who have had experience, not only so that the offense and defense can be run correctly, but so in the event that Schwartz must be fired, there will be a solid position coach who is able to move in and take his place.

If the Lions realistically could have fired Marinelli midway through the season, you can be sure that they would have. Who would have taken over for him though? Coletto? Barry? Yeah right.

You can also judge Schwartz by this draft. Yes, drafting is ultimately the job of the General Manager, but Martin Mayhew is also a rookie in his first job running a football team. Schwart's input should weigh heavily on Mayhew's decisions.

This coming draft in April will be just as much Schwartz's as it is Mayhew's.

Was this a good hire? Off the bat, I can say Schwartz seems like a better hire than Todd Bowles or Jason Garrett. Mike Shanahan or Bill Cowher certainly have more experience and credibility, but they were never realistic possibilities for the job.

So given the circumstances, yes. I think Jim Schwartz was the right hire for Detroit.

He seemed confident, with a plan for this team, when speaking to the media the other day, but that doesn't mean much.

Only Schwartz's actions will validate him. We've heard flashy talk in Detroit for the last decade and that's all it was, talk.

The appeal of the Lions job has always been the high risk, high reward factor. The man who can come in here and turn this team around will be a hero, and he will be highly sought after by every bad team in the league.

If you fail? Well, you're one and done. We all know what happens to former Lions coaches.

Schwartz's legacy will be defined with the Lions. Only time will tell which direction he will go.