“In any moment decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing”- Theodore Roosevelt.
Thank you Schwartz – The Decision to cut ties with the fearless leader
Detroit Lions GM Martin Mayhew needed to respond quickly in order to save his job. No one will blame Mayhew for letting Jim Schwartz go. A kudos the coach. He did not have fear in a difficult place to win. While we are all frustrated, including yourself, I think Detroit will always wish you the best on his endeavors, because that is the type of city Detroit is. Unfortunately, a 2-14 record in the second half of the last 2 seasons was enough for me. I won’t even mention the lack of discipline or the drops…oooooh, the drops. It was time. So the trigger was pulled…now what? Was this really the way to go? Does this really make the Lions better?
Short answer; Yes, this needed to happen. Schwartz did his job, and pulled a 0-16 team from laughing-stock to playoff-stock…back into merely a frustrating tease.
I am a supporter of Schwartz and am wondering if the last 5 years were a waste? Schwartz brought attitude and a selective enthusiasm to a team that needed fire. Schwartz brought a Napolean complex to a position that most coaches would have likely hung up on when the Lions’ GM called. You cannot fault Schwartz for that attitude. Personally, it was refreshing. When everyone is laughing at you the only response is to pick yourself up, not care what others thought, and simply be better. Let’s face it, the Lions could not have gotten much worse.
So now here the Lions stand; Coachless. An amazing fan base and talented athletes uncertain of the direction their trusted leaders will take them. The immediate future is misty, but bright at the same time. Let’s call it Schrodinger’s team (for you Big Bang Theory fans.) Until the future arrives the team is both alive and dead. We won’t be able to “open the box” until next season.
Let’s analyze where it all went wrong, shall we?
The Lions downfall started to show during the Buccaneer loss at home. The Steeler loss was forgivable. A loss on the road against a struggling yet traditionally successful team…that’s fine. But the lowly Buccaneers, whom also fired their coach on Monday, found a way to edge past the Lions. Now there was concern.
A Thanksgiving blowout win against the Pack was a sign that maybe things will be ok. The following week the Lions’ fans started to murmur, “is this the same ol’ Lions?” as they hand 28 points in the 4th quarter to a Philadelphia Eagles team that was on the ropes and hapless for 3 quarters…a sigh simmered over Detroit for 8 days.
Still, with QB injuries within the division the Lions still controlled their own destiny. Call it luck. Call it an opportunity. The need for short term memory was dire on Monday night against the Ravens. Jim Schwartz and the Lions had an opportunity in front of the country, the NFL, Detroit, announcer Jon Gruden (wait for it), and most especially their fans. The disappointed, frustrated yet utterly loyal fans who still have faith. Then…Legatron happens. Justin Tucker, kicker for the Ravens booted 6 field goals, Lions’ control of their own destiny, Jim Schwartz job security and the hopes of Lion fans.
When Tucker snuck that 60 yard field goal through the uprights I immediately found myself on the ground. I didn’t cry. I probably complained. More so, I found myself laughing. I remember thinking, “I wish I could quit you, Lions.” There were so many missed opportunities in the game. I do believe that kick was the moment Schwartz knew his career in Detroit was about over. But wait…
Week 16 the Lions are given a gift. Oh, sweet redemption, you reach out your arm. If Coach Schwartz can guide the Lions to a victory and the Bears and Packers lose you control your own destiny again! But by 4:30pm on Sunday, the Lions had thrown an interception for a touchdown, missed needed first downs, took a knee with 2 timeouts on the board and let the Giants scuttle to a field goal that gave them a 23-20 lead. Now…it was official. The Packers and Bears had done their part, Coach Schwartz fell short on his. I get it, there are other teams in the NFL that want to win regardless of their situation. Your team has the talent to get past them, and you turn and question the frustration of an intelligent fan base. I’m sorry, Jim…it was time. Your support was gone.
So Mayhew made the decision.
There are several ways this could have gone. Fire now and hope the right coach comes along. Announce your support for Schwartz, say that things need to change, but the right pieces are in place and HOPE the team builds, and learns from their many mistakes. Or finally, do nothing and wait for the Ford’s to escort you out of the building.
The firing is still not a victory, although fans like myself may have that initial response of cheer and relief. Honestly, there will only be a small handful of coaches that the Lions hire where the fan base screams, “YES! That’s what I’m talking about! Now we’re headed somewhere!” Even though a high profile hire does not a guarantee success (see Mariucci, Steve. Although I do believe he was a product of Hurricane Millen.)
Jon Gruden would make Detroit doe-eyed fans have hope again. The Superbowl XXXVII champion coach could be teasing on a return. He would likely be the choice if fans had their way. A perfect balance of fiery, disciplined, personable, knowledgeable and charming…he would be numero uno in this town, and could take the Lions to the next level. His smirk on that decisive Monday night against the Ravens makes me think he knows it, too.
Lovie Smith? He knows the Lion foibles and can definitely bring experience. Mind you, Schwartz currently has 5 years of head coaching experience. It wasn’t pretty, but the team won’t be interested in finding a fresh faced coach. It is time to find someone who has “been around the block” so to speak. Fans wouldn’t be disappointed in Smith.
A head coach that has been linked to the Lions recently is Ken Whisenhunt. He has taken the Arizona Cardinals to the Superbowl as a head coach and won it as an offensive coordinator for the Steelers. He has 5 years of head coaching behind him, and would be a decent hire…if the others are not interested in signing.
Other honorable mention candidates would be Bill Cowher, and Brian Billick. Plenty of success and Superbowls behind them, but have been out of coaching for quite a while.
The beauty of the situation is anything can happen. It was vital for Mayhew to act right away regarding Schwartz. Fans are with the GM, but there is much work and research to be done. Interviews to be had. Questions to be asked. Blame to ponder.
The firing of Schwartz forces everyone to take a good hard look at themselves in the mirror. The team leaders especially. I am talking to the Fords, Mayhew, Lewand, Stafford, Suh (whom had a great year as a leader), Delmas, Levy, and especially Calvin Johnson. It has been exciting watching Calvin. I think his humility and calm demeanor is a wonderful example of how athletes should handle themselves on and off the field. However, it pains me to say, Calvin needs to step up. Calvin needs more fire and a demand for himself and his team. You need fire and a killer instinct. This can be accomplished without him telling everyone he’s the greatest receiver in the NFL. Johnson and Stafford need to stick your middle finger up to all those doubters, and all the teams that try and stop you, knock them down, pick them up, and say…here I come again. I love that the dynamic duo is humble. Now it’s time to get angry. Not at the fans. At everyone. It is Detroit against the NFL world, and it’s time to finish what you have started.