Tune into any sports-talk radio station or read the comment section on any sports-related website and you’ll see retribution at work.
“FIRE HIM” or “GET RID OF HIM” or “&%@∞•¶ HIM WITH A #@¶¢™.” Lions fans are no different. The tantalizing tease of 2011 turned into the disappointment of 2012 and 2013 and Lions fans—and pundits and management and ownership and me—aimed their ire at Lions’ head coach Jim Schwartz.
This is for good reason. Some fans spend their time grousing about Matt Stafford, and there is no question that he needs to play a lot better—but Stafford’s struggles need to be put aside for the moment. Stafford will enter the 2014 season with flames under his seat. The quarterback’s closer scrutiny begins after the new guy gets here.
For Schwartz, the day of reckoning passed. He will likely be fired after the season closes in Minnesota. That eventuality isn’t enough for some fans—they want him gone now. Their blood is hot, and they want someone to pay for the pain of the past two months as the Lions went from driver’s seat to familiar feelings of futility.
Here are five good reasons Schwartz hasn’t been fired yet:
1. It was two days before Christmas – You don’t want to be Mr. Potter, do you? It seems like a lifetime ago, but you used to love Schwartz. Even after the last two awful seasons, Schwartz did a decent job digging the Lions out of a ditch. He’s not the worst coach in Lions history. That was the last guy.
2. It’s pointless – If they fired Schwartz on the Monday after the game against the Giants, what would it really accomplish? Sending a message? Does anyone need that message taught to them, that winning is better than losing? Would they be more or less likely to beat the Vikings? A few callers said the Lions would be less likely to win against the Vikings without Schwartz, and losing would preserve or improve the team’s draft position. The Lions have proven themselves quite capable of dropping games when Schwartz is at the helm. If that’s your concern, don’t worry about it.
3. It’s not a good look – The Lions are in the market for a new coach. For the first time in decades they have an attractive portfolio of talent. A quarterback with a great deal of raw ability. The best wide receiver in the game. Arguably the best defensive line in football. An offensive line that has proven itself worthy of mention among the leagues’ best. This will attract good coaches with an eye toward winning now. Firing Schwartz as a pointless PR move might sour coaches who have their pick of the litter.
4. The players seem to like him – Of course, what are they going to say? “We’d win if it weren’t for that guy with the headset.” Sure the fans and media would love that, for pure comedic value but the players have to speak highly of the coach. If it emerges later that players and coaches didn’t get along AT ALL, they must be cordial in the media. Players never know when they’re going to need that connection at the end of their careers when they’re facing a lot of closed doors. Ask Tiki Barber if it’s a good idea to trash a coach. Taking the players at their word, they seem to genuinely like Schwartz. Forcing Schwartz to walk the plank before the final game of the season might turn their opinion against ownership and the Lions don’t need that going forward.
5. Maybe the Lions aren’t going to fire Schwartz – …this would be unacceptable.