The tumultuous Jim Schwartz Era is over.
Following a disastrous end to a once-promising 2013 season, the Detroit Lions decided to send the often-brash head coach on his way after five up-and-down campaigns, the team confirmed on its website.
The news was first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter:
Lions let go of Jim Schwartz.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 30, 2013
Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press continued:
Linehan and much of the offensive staff have been let go, too— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) December 30, 2013
Fox Sports' Jay Glazer reports the Lions will retain their general manager Martin Mayhew:
Lions GM Martin Mayhew is staying.— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) December 30, 2013
The writing has been on the wall for a while, and after a Week 17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, Schwartz campaigned for another opportunity, via the Associated Press' Jon Krawczynski via the Star Tribune:
I'd certainly like to be back. I think we have unfinished business here. We've come a long way in these years, but we still have some ground that we can make and I'm anxious to have a chance to do that.
His argument fell on deaf ears.
Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman reports insight from within the organization:
Lions source on Schwartz: "He lost all control of the team."— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) December 30, 2013
After helping the Lions to 10 wins and a postseason spot in 2011 just three years after the team's infamous winless season, Schwartz's squad took a major step back in 2012, going 4-12.
It appeared as though he had figured things out in 2013. The Lions started 6-3, had a pair of wins over the Chicago Bears and looked like a terrific bet to win the NFC North.
Then the collapse came.
Detroit dropped six of its last seven, including an embarrassing home defeat to the New York Giants in Week 16 that assured an absence from the postseason.
With the NFL's premier wide receiver in Calvin Johnson, a dynamic one-two punch in the running game with Reggie Bush and Joique Bell and one of the most ferocious defensive lines in the league, Schwartz took a large chunk of the blame for the debacle.
That's not exactly surprising, either, as many of the team's problems seemed to stem from poor coaching leadership. As Guyism's World of Isaac pointed out, the Lions were a horrendous fourth-quarter team:
Check that: The Lions held a 4th quarter lead in 13 of 16 games this season. Finished 7-9.— World of Isaac (@WorldofIsaac) December 29, 2013
Moreover, according to WXYZ-TV's Brad Galli, they amazingly haven't won a game in December in two years:
#Lions started 6-3. They finish 1-6, and haven't won a game in December in two years.— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) December 29, 2013
After going 7-9, Schwartz finishes his career with the Lions at 29-51 with one playoff appearance and no playoff wins in five seasons.
His teams constantly tallied yards and lit up the scoreboard, but were often riddled by undisciplined play and turnovers. During three of Schwartz's five seasons, the Lions finished in the bottom six of the league in giveaways. In 2013, they were tied for 30th.
This team has loads of talent on both sides of the ball, and as Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch notes, replacing Schwartz will be a sought-after position:
The Lions head coaching job, assuming it opens, is a very good one for the right candidate. Schedule will be favorable next year.— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) December 29, 2013
It will be compelling to see where the Lions go from here. They have the pieces in place to build a strong contender, and the goal is now finding someone to help bring the team together.