Detroit Lions

What Must Jim Schwartz Do to Keep His Job for the Detroit Lions?

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 28: Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwarts reacts after a fourth down penalty during the game against the Seattle Seahawks during the game at Ford Field on October 28, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images
Dean HoldenAnalyst IOctober 30, 2012

If you need more proof that the NFL is a "what have you done for me lately" kind of league, just listen to sports radio in the Detroit area.

They're faint, but there are whispers that Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz needs to be on his way out of town on account of the team's disappointing 3-4 start.

Just so we're clear, this is the man who coached and built an 0-16 team into the playoffs in under three years. And that wasn't ancient history or anything. That playoff game was 10 months ago. This is the next season.

Now, to be fair, I can understand where some of these fans are coming from, despite how irrational they are. The Lions under Schwartz have a history of taking bad penalties, discipline problems on and off the field, and disappointing losses in winnable games.

Schwartz was under a lot of pressure during the offseason, during which four of his players got arrested a combined seven times.

That pressure from the offseason has combined with a disappointing start to the season to bring some heat on the head coach, and I get that. I understand the sentiment.

When an apparently talented team underperforms, it's highly tempting to put the onus on the coach, because it's hard to process the idea that a talented player plays poorly.

But at times like this, it's important to remember that the Lions just played their first playoff game in a decade, largely because of the man whose head is being called for.

Let's back up for a moment and discuss what Jim Schwartz is actually, tangibly, doing wrong.

Are the Lions currently mired in a quarterback controversy, on account of Schwartz's knee-jerk reaction to start his backup quarterback after a couple strong games?

Nope, that's Andy Reid. And Ken Whisenhunt, who broke the bank on the byproduct of that decision.

Did Schwartz inherit a reasonably successful and talented team, only to drive it into the ground in three years?

Nope, that'd be Rex Ryan. Schwartz went the opposite direction.

Did Schwartz make personnel moves that turned the Lions into a tabloid sideshow?

Nope, Ryan again.

Did Schwartz spend hundreds of millions of dollars on free agents to build a barely mediocre team?

No, that's Reid, Ryan, and Chan Gailey.

Has Schwartz completely lost his team to the point that players are going to the media to implicitly complain about the locker room atmosphere?

Nope, that's Ryan again.

Is Schwartz just a talking head at the mercy of his overbearing owner/GM?

No, that's Jason Garrett

So someone explain this to me. Why is it that we're even talking about this, again? Why is the most successful Lions coach in two decades under fire for a near-.500 start, while coaching a team that hadn't even been .500 for a decade before him?

Realistically, he isn't, and he shouldn't be. It's fans with a penchant for overreacting talking about this, not the Lions organization. The only coach whose seat is even comfortably warm is special teams coordinator Danny Crossman, and his units have played much better since the catastrophic Vikings game.

Schwartz and all three of his coordinators just signed contract extensions before the start of the 2012 season, so it's silly to think the team is close to giving up on any of them at this point.

Especially for a team in the thick of the playoff hunt.

So what does Schwartz need to do to keep his job this year? Not much, really. He needs to make sure he doesn't lose his team, which does not appear to be even a minor issue, and he should probably make sure the team doesn't finish 3-13.

That aside, he should be pretty comfortable right where he is... aside from his seat being a little cold.

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