Jim Schwartz's Biggest Mistakes as the Detroit Lions Head Coach
After a short successful glimpse of the 2011 playoffs, Schwartz has earned himself a spot on the hot seat. Since finishing the season with a 4-12 record, the Detroit franchise has fallen back to the shameful label of the "same old Lions".
Schwartz's 22-41 four-year record with the Lions has been disappointing, but going beyond the numbers is alarming. The way the Lions have responded and act under Schwartz is more disappointing than the record itself.
While Schwartz is on the hot seat, it's too soon to talk about replacing him. Firing a coach who managed to lead a franchise to the playoffs for the first time since 1999 a year later would be blasphemous.
With that said, Schwartz is on a tight leash. After the immature antics on and off the field from the team, one can't help but wonder if Schwartz really has control of the Lions.
Here are the biggest mistakes from Schwartz that have lead to this position.
1. The Infamous Handshake
I had no issue with Jim Schwartz taking offense to how San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh reacted to the Niners' 25-19 victory over the Lions last season. There's nothing wrong with a coach showing emotion after a win, but how Harbaugh smacked Schwartz on the back and barely acknowledged him was disrespectful.
That being said, that scenario started as Harbaugh being a jerk to Schwartz, making himself look crazy.
There's nothing wrong with Schwartz wanting to call him out, but chasing him down the field creating a bigger scene? That doesn't set a positive leadership message to your team. It was selfish and made the team look bad.
If Schwartz wanted to call him out in the media and then let it go, that's fair. Considering the game was already chippy and tempers were flaring between players, Schwartz's action only escalated it to an undignified level.
2. Handling of Summer Suspensions
The Detroit Lions' 2012 offseason was well documented, but unfortunately had very little to do with football.
Four Lions were arrested for a grand total of seven incidents this summer. It took until the seventh arrest for Schwartz to make a statement, which was cornerback Aaron Berry's assault charge in Pennsylvania.
Schwartz might not believe in "sending a message to his team", but shouldn't the leader of his team step in at some point sooner than the seventh arrest? A football team takes on the personality of their coach. What kind of personality did the Lions take after all these issues occurring?
Schwartz is usually quiet in the public when discussing personal team matters. However, when players have had good games, Schwartz usually takes a confusing approach of downplaying the good play and nitpicking at other issues. Running back Joique Bell's touchdown celebration at Green Bay is an example of such.
The Lions must be held accountable for everything they do at this point, and it starts with Schwartz. There's a reason why Detroit averaged over six penalties a game. Considering the lack of leadership on the field, it starts and ends with Schwartz for the team to be held accountable.
3. Thanksgiving Challenge Flag
This Thanksgiving episode turned the tide of the game and exposed the true colors of the Detroit Lions.
Going up against the Houston Texans, the Lions had control of a third-quarter lead at 24-14, until everything changed with an improper ruling. Running back Justin Forsett scored on an 81-yard touchdown run. The points shouldn't have counted because Forsett was down by contact, and the play could've been reversed.
It wasn't overturned however because Schwartz negated the automatic scoring review by throwing a challenge flag. Every scoring play in the NFL is reviewed by the officials, unless a challenge is thrown resulting in a penalty and loss of a review.
After losing out on that opportunity, the Lions lost control of the game and victory going down 34-31 in overtime against the Texans.
The NFL should take a look at this rule this offseason considering how it can turn a game around. It gives unnecessary power to the officials so head coaches don't "show them up" on a questionable call.
With that said, Schwartz has to know the rules and can't be caught up int he moment. He admitted to "overreacting" and making a mistake that cost the Lions a wave of momentum. It's not uncommon for players to lose their cool on a questionable call, but a head coach? Not acceptable on Schwartz's part.