By Eric Thomas
People said before the Ravens game, “If the Lions don’t beat Baltimore, Jim Schwartz won’t be back next year.”
Then Monday happened.
Now, “If the Lions look bad against the Giants and Vikings, it’s over for Schwartz.”
“The Lions have a chance to make the playoffs, even despite everything else. If Schwartz can get this team into the playoffs, he might keep his job.”
Really? After all that? Not to be condescending, but if that slim—SLIM—scenario manifests itself, that the Lions win the NFC North after compiling some of the worst belly-flops in professional football living memory, IF that happens how does that reflect positively on Jim Schwartz at all? Seriously?
What’s the new battle-cry for the 2013 team? “The Lions: they got around to it eventually!” or “The Lions: a team of destiny so much they didn’t even try!” or “The Lions: we saved it for the playoffs, and there’s a lot left!”
Why were we drawing lines in the sand before the Baltimore game, if we had no plans on adhering? Can’t we evaluate the team and Schwartz now as different entities? The players, locked into contracts and offering ample evidence of talent amid this putrid season, are going to stay. The coaches need to think about their upcoming opportunities with other teams.
The Lions’ place in the division, in that they could win it, has very little to do with them. They’re the only team in the NFC North that wasn’t decimated with injuries. Calvin Johnson has sat out a single game, and yet they’re poised to lose the division.
Players pointed the finger at themselves. That’s what they should say. That’s how they should think. We as Lions fans, who’ve been amazingly patient with the head coach considering our history, can take a different tack. We see the scene from the stands. Vegas continues to favor the Lions due to their talent level. We have an outside perspective and long memory that they aren’t afforded. We’ve seen when a team is done before. This staff is done.
Schwartz has a rich future. He turned an 0-16 team into playoff possibility. He becomes the Lions version of Rick Carlisle, and his gathered experience he gained from his years here will serve him well in his next opportunity (wouldn’t it be ironic if it was Dallas?).
It doesn’t matter what happens in the next two games, when the Lions face two of the worst teams in the NFL. Put the measuring stick away. We don’t need it anymore. Firing Schwartz with two games left will produce nothing positive, we can wait two weeks.
Let’s be honest folks, it’s all over but the crying. Reports on the NFL Network are grim. Ownership seems ready to wipe the slate, and that’s a sourced report. If the Lions lose the Giants, watch for all Hades to break loose. There will be finger-pointing and leaks the likes of which you’ve probably never seen before, as upper management and coaches try to save their legacies.
Watch the next two weeks because you like football. This off-season will be fun. Lions news will be jumping all year with the changes ahead of them, and hopefully not due to any off-season arrests rearing their head again, but changes are necessary. The die has been cast. Let’s not pretend that Sunday’s game against the Giants should have any bearing whatsoever on what the team does going forward.