Jim Schwartz: Two Parts Mental, One Part Metal

Michael Schottey@SchotteyNFL National Lead WriterMay 23, 2009

ALLEN PARK, MI - MAY 01: Head coach Jim Schwartz of the Detroit Lions looks on during rookie orientation camp at the Detroit Lions Headquarters and Training Facility on May 1, 2009 in Allen Park, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Jim Schwartz, first-year head coach of the Detroit Lions, is a bit of an enigma.

Schwartz was an all-American linebacker and captain of his football team at Division III Georgetown. He also graduated with honors in the economics program as well as being an academic all-American. At both times a whiz kid and a jock, he had it all.

He could be sitting at a desk on Wall Street right now, earning bailout money with most of his graduating class.

Instead, he's preparing for a rebuilding project almost as daunting as fixing the financial industry—the 0-16 Detroit Lions.

Rod Marinelli was Millen's guy. Tough, hard nosed, disciplined—the Vietnam War veteran fit in perfectly with Millen's ideal team structure.

Schwartz refers to people as "dude" and "bro."

Schwartz listens to heavy metal and rock and roll—stuff Marinelli's generation refers to as "that noise." Schwartz called Aerosmith "tight" on a Detroit radio station. He once spent an entire night waiting for tickets for Twisted Sister.

If Schwartz could sing, he admits he would probably be playing guitar at a night club right now.

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He's not Rod Marinelli. He's not even close.

Schwartz discipled under Bill Belichick for three seasons in the mid-'90s. During that time, Schwartz convinced his head coach to stop worrying about fumbles. Good teams, Schwartz argued, fumble just as much as bad teams.

Belichick couldn't argue with the numbers then, and to this day calls Schwartz one of the smartest coaches he's ever been around.

As a defensive assistant and then coordinator for the Tennessee Titans, he became known as the "stats guy," and would later go on to work with Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders, one of football's best statistical breakdown Web sites.

Schwartz knows football.

He has already stated he wants to "manage the game" as a head coach and let his coordinators—Scott Linehan and Gunther Cunningham—call the plays. In Tennessee, Schwartz admitted to working around 100 hours a week, about the same as Titans' head coach Jeff Fisher.

However, Fisher spent his time with offense, defense, special teams, media relations, personnel, etc. Fisher deferred to the defensive and offensive coaches when it came to in-depth planning. Schwartz plans to use the same type of management style. For that reason, the rookie head coach hired two former head coaches as coordinators.

Marinelli took the defensive line on as a pet project. Don't expect to see the same with Schwartz and the linebackers—he trusts and respects Cunningham and linebackers coach, Matt Burke. Burke, a graduate of Dartmouth, is considered the mini-me to Schwartz' Dr. Evil—a brilliant stats junkie.

Overall, Schwartz is going to bring a new direction to the Detroit Lions. Uniquely aware of numbers and averages, he plans to put the Lions in the best position to win from week to week.

He's certainly not Rod Marinelli. He's not even close.

And that, bro, is a good thing.


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