Report: Detroit Lions fire Jim Schwartz after fourth losing season in five yearshttp://www.mlive.com/lions/index.ssf/20 ... hwart.html
Kyle Meinke | firstname.lastname@example.org
By Kyle Meinke | email@example.com
on December 30, 2013 at 11:57 AM
ALLEN PARK -- Jim Schwartz won 10 games during a surprising run to the playoffs in 2011. But he won just 11 more over the past two seasons, and the Detroit Lions ran out of patience.
The club wasted no time executing the inevitable, and axed Schwartz on Monday morning just hours after his 51st loss in five years, according to ESPN. The move was widely expected after presided over a second consecutive collapse.
He was the sixth head coach to be served his papers, following Tampa Bay's Greg Schiano, Washington's Mike Shanahan and Minnesota's Leslie Frazier on Monday; Cleveland's Rob Chudzinski on Sunday; and Houston's Gary Kubiak during the season.
Schwartz finishes his tenure 29-51 overall, the worst record of any coach in his first five years since John McKay of the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
He reportedly has two years and more than $12 million remaining on his contract, which Detroit must still pay. But the Lions became willing to shell out the big bucks after the Lions' once-promising devolved into an ugly and mistaken-riden 1-6 finish.
The collapse cost Detroit its first division title in 20 years.
Schwartz's final game was a 14-13 loss in Minnesota on Sunday. The Lions concluded the season 7-9, their fourth losing season in five years under Schwartz.
He said after that game he was unaware of his fate, and remained hopeful about his future.
"I certainly would like to be back," he said. "I think we have unfinished business this year. We've come a long way in these years, but we still have some ground that we can make. And I'm anxious to be able to have a chance to do that.
"We're confident in the way that we work, and with what we're doing as a team. Obviously we didn't win enough games this year. And there's no standard to judge other than that. I understand that."
The Ford family, which owns the Lions, gave Schwartz his first head coaching job in 2009. The long-time Titans defensive coordinator won two games his first season, then six, then 10 in a playoff-bound 2011 season.
But the Lions' meteoric rise was followed by a spectacular fall from grace. They were just 7-17 in their past 24 games.
Schwartz's era was marked by increased competitiveness, but riddled with too many mistakes -- especially penalties and turnovers -- to consistently close out games. In 2013 alone, Detroit lost seven times after holding a fourth-quarter lead.
Schwartz called the Lions' ability to play opponents close, even in defeat, a "hallmark" of his tenure. And aptly so.
Another inescapable hallmark was his acerbity. He was often combative with the media, developed a reputation around the league for being difficult to work with and even appeared to feud with fans in his home finale last week against the New York Giants.
Schwartz had on-field drama as well, most notably chasing San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh after a postgame handshake in 2011.
He was fired because he didn't win enough, though his unlikeability -- including a plummeting approval rating among fans -- certainly didn't help matters.
Now the Fords must hire their 16th coach since William Clay bought the team 50 years ago, and their seventh since 2000. They haven't had much luck, either, with just two of the 16 -- Joe Schmidt and Gary Moeller -- completing their tenures with winning records.
William Clay Ford, now 88 years old, remains chairman after all these years. But he's believed to have ceded much of the primary decision making, including coaching decisions, to son Bill Ford Jr.
Early, trendy candidates have included San Diego offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien, though O'Brien has been linked to Houston in the past days.
Both men are highly regarded throughout the game for developing quarterbacks, and that's a trait thought to be high on Detroit's wish list.
NFL teams go only so far as their quarterbacks take them, and the Lions hitched their wagon to Matthew Stafford when they guaranteed him $90 million.
But Stafford's growth stagnated this season. He finished with 19 interceptions, just one off his career high, and was among the least accurate quarterbacks in the game.
Detroit can't fire Stafford, after doling out a lucrative three-year extension last offseason. But it could fire Schwartz.
And so, another chapter begins in the Lions' heretofore tortured existence.
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