If Lions fail to win division title, Schwartz should be fired

In his 4 1/2 seasons as head coach of the Detroit Lions, Jim Schwartz has a 29-47 record.

In his 4 1/2 seasons as head coach of the Detroit Lions, Jim Schwartz has a 29-47 record.

The last time the Detroit Lions won a division title the most popular movie in America was Jurassic Park (the first one); the World Wide Web had just been invented (but no one knew what it was really good for); and Jay Leno was just taking over the Tonight Show (that time from Johnny Carson).

Much has changed since 1993, and Lions fans have endured a lot, mostly losing and losing, and more losing. But now, the Boys in Honolulu Blue have some very good players and they are in a good position to win the NFC North title. Their game on Sunday in Philadelphia against the Eagles will have a lot to say about whether that possibility becomes a reality. If it doesn’t there need to be consequences.

Jim Schwartz should be fired if the Lions fail to win their division.

One month ago the Lions beat the Chicago Bears, 21-19 at Soldier Field to sweep their season series against their rival. Their record was 6-3 and they stood atop the division, clear favorites to roll to a title and the playoffs. With Calvin Johnson having another amazing season catching hard-thrown footballs from QB Matthew Stafford, and Reggie Bush adding a dynamic element to the offense that hasn’t been seen since Barry Sanders, the Lions had the players and seemed to have the momentum to roll to a big season. Then came losses to Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay, which allowed the Bears and the Packers to squeak back into the picture. A win over the Pack on Thanksgiving probably put an end to Green Bay’s hopes of a division crown, but despite the Lions 40-10 shellacking of their opponent on Turkey Day, there’s an all-too familiar feel of dread surrounding this football team.

Linebacker Travis Davis has been suspended for the final four games of the season for violation of the league drug policy. Bush has criticized teammates for lack of focus. A former Lions player has come out against Jim Schwartz, calling him a liar. A member of the Packers said that Schwartz is basically a bad coach who isn’t respected by his own team. Few if any current Lions have come to their coach’s defense. The team is also holding auditions for the kicker job, as veteran David Akers is on the hot seat due to his inconsistency.

But even without the off-the-field distractions and the personnel issues, the Lions always seem to be on the verge of taking a tumble. It’s no wonder the fans are fickle about this team, one of the only teams to never play in the Super Bowl. The only team to ever lose all 16 games in a single season, a team that’s always ready to break their hearts.

Schwartz has had five seasons to change the culture of this football franchise from the field. He has one playoff appearance, two years ago when the team won 10 games before being thumped in a wild card game by the New Orleans Saints. There are few teams with as many playmakers such as Johnson, Stafford, Bush, and on the defensive side, linemen Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. Yet, the team plays an undisciplined brand of football, frequently drawing penalties at the wrong time.

After having his team at 6-3 with a soft second-half schedule, Schwartz was in the cat bird’s seat to win the Lions’ first division crown since the Clinton Administration. Instead, the Lions find themselves just a smidge ahead of the Bears and in a battle with the Eagles and other NFC teams in the complicated playoff chase. If the Lions end up missing the playoffs, Schwartz has to be axed, but even if they lose their division title and make the playoffs as a wild card, he must go. Five years is enough time to have exorcised the demons of the Matt Millen era. Schwartz, for all his bravado and sideline strutting, has for the most part been all-talk and no-walk. There have been too many excuses, too many mistakes, too many close losses. In the Schwartz era, the Lions are 16-20 in games decided by a touchdown or less. That includes a miserable stretch in 2012 when the team lost their last 8 games of the season to finish 4-12, several of those losses by a razor-thin margin. A number of the games the Lions have won by a touchdown or less have been a result of comeback wins, but Schwartz-led teams seem to have a knack for coming up short in tight spots.

This team was supposed to erase the stigma of SOL (Same Old Lions) and replace it with an aggressive, fun, physical brand of football. Instead, they have earned a reputation as the dirtiest team in the league, while underperforming, losing to bad teams like the Steelers and Buccaneers. Three of their four final opponents have a playoff spot to play for, so Schwartz and the Lions won’t have an easy road to the division title.

Lions fans are tired of the talk and the waiting. They have some great players and some exciting stuff to cheer about, but if the W’s are outweighed by the L’s, and the playoffs are just a once-in-a-while, one-and-done thing, the fan base will continue to drift. Jim Schwartz came to Detroit to change the Lions, to make them winners. If they fail to finish first this season, he has to be let go.

14 replies on “If Lions fail to win division title, Schwartz should be fired

  • Steve Cox

    Absolutely. I am 44 years old and i deserve to see a winning season. My fathers time expired before it happened and i do not want my son to post the same in 20 yrs! GO LIONS!

  • Larry

    If they win the division, but lose the first playoff game, my vote would still be to fire him. A great coach should win a game or two a year, by virtue of their coaching…Schwartz seems to lose a game or two a year by virtue of bad calls. The fake field goal stands out this year, last year it was the challenge when you can’t challenge. Does “taking the wind” ring a bell.

  • Bill Mason Sr.

    If you did your homework for this diatribe you would have found out that the Lions did not have a linebacker on their roster named Travis Davis. I can’t give you any credibility for this “hatchet job.”

  • Otto

    Coach Schmaltz will hang on through the end of contact no matter what. Mr. ford is loyal to a fault. Always has been.

  • DDoctor Dan

    Huh? “Instead, the Lions find themselves just a smidge ahead of the Lions and in a battle with the Eagles”

  • Mike Patton

    We’ll written article! They clearly have enough talent. I do think Stafford could improve under the direction of a good mentor. He seems to lack touch, has only one speed…fast, and takes a lot of chances by just throwing it in the vicinity of his receiver with the hope that his guy will win the battle!

    How much influence does the coach and his staff have on a game?

    I grew up south of Flint but moved to south Louisiana in 1980. I’ve since become a Saints fan. In 2012, without Sean Payton, the Saints were terrible. This year, with basically the same talent, Sean Payton is back, plus a new Def Coordinator, they are much improved. Why? The coach and staff make the difference by making adjustments during the game. The Lions seem to be out coached, especially in close games near their end.

    Yes, they certainly have the talent. But do they have the right coach? I don’t think they do. Sorry Jim, but as I watch the opposition adjust and begin to conquer, I don’t often see the same thing from the Lions bench. Good talent + mediocre coaching = losing close games and losing games you should and/or must win! That’s just the way I see it! I’m still rooting for you though!

  • Mark Erfive

    You’re far too harsh and care about the wrong things. First, a wildcard isn’t happening. To get a wildcard, the Lions would have to lose two games, and a 9-7 team isn’t getting a wildcard in the NFC this year. Second, wildcard teams have gone to and won the Super Bowl many times lately. Your firing criteria should be on winning playoff games, not winning the division.

    Now that that’s said, please proofread before posting. In reverse order: “dirties team” should be “dirtiest team”, “exercised the demons” should be “exorcise the demons” (unless your demon is an overweight WR), and “a smidge ahead of the Lions” should be “a smidge ahead of the Bears” (Seriously, how did you miss that one?). Proofread.

    • Dan Holmes


      Thanks for your comments. I stick by my assessment that the Lions underperform under Schwartz.

      Apologize for the proofreading errors, and thanks for pointing them out!


  • Rick

    Hey Dan lots of great material but my vote would be if the Lions lose the division the league steps in and makes the Ford’s sell them. The mediocrity of the Lions sits at Mr. Ford’s feet! They have been the laughing stock of the league for over 50 years! He has made MILLIONS over the years and given the fans of this state NOTHING in return! I tell people all the time this is a football crazy state. If people think we get behind the Tiger’s, Wings, Pistons, Spartans or Wolverines just imagine how this state would be if the Lions were ever good? They would blow the lid off of this state! Ford watched as the Silverdome sold out for years and put none of that money back into the team. Great player’s left great coach’s were let go (Shula, Knox) and all under one person’s watch! What happened a few years back when junior got involved and wanted to fire Millen? The old man pulled him back. Remember the uproar when the league wanted to take the Thanksgiving game away? I for one was all for it. I was tired of them always being blacked out and Ford never cared. I laughed when they said it was THEIR game because of tradition. WHAT tradition? They just won the other day for the first time in 10 YEARS on Thanksgiving. The tradition they have with Ford as owner is simple. Laughingstock and Loser’s. So again, if they do not win their division the league should make them SELL the team.

  • Bruce Mason

    Mark: I wanna know why you “care” so much about a football team. I’m sensing some rage and anger in that post, brother.
    Do the Lions mean that much to you? Why? They are a FOOTBALL team. If Calvin Johnson signs an autograph today, you are forgotten five minutes later. Seriously. Five minutes later. So why do you care to the point of anger?

  • bill craig

    His smug attitude rubs many the wrong way. But he’s the smartest coach we’ve had – with a low bar in that department.

    Ford’s ownership of the Lions was a ploy to get him away from any substantial role with the car company. Yes – he chaired the Finance committee for years but he was mostly a figurehead who left the heavy lifting to the subordinates.

    Purchased for 4.5 million – the team is now worth close to a billion. Not a bad investment.

  • larry

    Next year at this time the Lions will be in the same position they are now . The Ford family does not see a reason to change anything !!!

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