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Thursday, December 19, 2013

12th Man Report: Lions players publicly back Schwartz

Posted By on Thu, Dec 19, 2013 at 5:22 AM

Over the past three or four weeks, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz has been under fire. Whether from fans or the media, questions have obviously been directed at the team’s leadership during this recent collapse.

In an interview with the Detroit Free Press this past week, Ndamukong Suh rhetorically asked, “Am I playing for Jim’s job? I think that’s a part of it.” Theoretically, every player is always “playing for their coach’s job,” if you think about it. But for Suh to say that (and for the reporter to ask the question), it means that Schwartz’s job isn’t a sure thing.

Should this be an issue, though?

There’s no doubt that Schwartz helped turn around this team. I mean, hell, he actually got the Lions back to the playoffs (albeit just once), which was no small feat. But if you look at trends within the Lions franchise during Schwartz’ time in Detroit, there are some if’s, and’s and but’s.

For example, how the Lions rarely finish a game well. If losing the close games and blowing leads in the fourth quarter were an indicator of whether a team’s coach should be fired, Schwartz’s job would be in a lot more jeopardy than it evidently is. The Lions may be the most un-clutch team in the league — not even an exaggeration.

“You look at all the losses we’ve had, (and) it’s came down to plays we didn’t make,” Nate Burleson said. While that may be true — or just a player sticking up for his coach — the issue needs to be addressed. And there’s no doubt that it’s an issue. Losing games down the stretch isn’t acceptable for a coach or for a player.

When you look at this season, the Lions on paper should be a lot better than 7-7. General Manager Martin Mayhew has put together a very solid team — one that I’ll even go as far as calling a “winning team.” Which begs to question, why aren’t they winning?

There’s a reason I’m a writer and not a general manager though — I don’t know whether or not Schwartz should be fired at the season’s end, no matter what happens in these final two games. But I do know that a lot better, more-esteemed coaches have been sacked for far less in the NFL than Jim Schwartz. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, and if you don’t win in this league, you go.  


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