The Detroit Lions have their man. Tennessee defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is the sucker who has signed his name to a contract and agreed to take over this mess of a franchise. This is such an interesting situation that it raises all sorts of thoughts and questions. Instead of weaving them onto a cohesive narrative, I’m just going to be lazy and throw them all out in point form.
1. What the hell is Schwartz thinking? The guy is talented. He’s been with the Titans for 10 years, and he put together a pretty darned good defense this year. I can understand wanting to move on, but he was in a good place, so he didn’t need to jump at whatever came along. You could say that he is lucky because he can only go up from here. That’s ridiculous, though. Schwartz will inevitably face unrealistic expectations to win, and he’ll have everything stacked against him doing it. He has a stunning lack of talent on the roster, and one draft and one free agency period isn’t going to be near enough to do anything about it. He has an owner who seems to be an idiot. He has a front office staff that replaces the worst front office in football history. The only problem is that this staff was part of the last staff. An internal hire is ridiculous in this situation, and strengthens the opinion of the idiot owner. The attitude of the team is toxic, and no one in Detroit knows anything about winning. There is one player – Calvin Johnson – on the entire roster to build around. In short, this is a terrible, terrible job. I’m not just saying that to be funny or to sound like I agree with everyone else. I say it because I truly believe it. The only job that is worse is Oakland, and the gap isn’t nearly as big as it should be.
2. I’m not sure what the Lions were thinking, either. I hear that Schwartz is very impressive and that he interviewed very well. He clearly knows his stuff. Detroit is really poised on the precipice here, though. They need to get this ship turned around, and they need it now. That’s going to take some serious faith and buy-in from the players. No matter how good Schwartz is, it might be harder for players to listen to what a longtime assistant who has never coached before has to say. Especially when that coordinator has stayed in the same comfortable job for a long time instead of pushing himself. And especially when that coordinator has not won anything tangible in his time with his former team. A more visible, more experienced coach would probably have made more sense.
3. But then the problem is probably that no coach with any experience at all would be dumb enough to take this job. Steve Mariucci is a good coach, yet this franchise ate him alive. And they weren’t nearly in as bad shape back then as they are now.
4. I wish Schwartz luck, and I respect him for taking on the challenge, but I remain very bearish on ths team. Rod Marinelli was another defensive guy with a solid reputation and a long history with a respected team, and look where that got him. Schwartz doesn’t have Matt Millen to deal with, but there is no proof as of yet that he is any better off.