The Detroit Lions will have to face a tough decision when the season is over. They will have to figure out whether or not if they are going to fire their coach Jim Schwartz. Now conventional wisdom is that if the team makes the playoffs then Schwartz’s job will be safe. Most coaches don’t lose their jobs after a successful season. The thing is not sure how successful this season has been. The Lions are a talented team and maybe need another voice to get them over the top.
In a league of parity the Lions have as good of a roster as the NFL will let you. They are an offensive juggernaut and have a pretty good defensive line and linebackers. They need a little help on the back end of the defense but no team is perfect. What is costing this organization wins is coaching. It’s not what they are doing things scheme wise but their lack of discipline is costing them games. The falling apart late in contest is due to a coach not being able to hold a team together.
Some of the numbers are disturbing with this Detroit team. Last season they started 4-4 and finished 4-12 dropping their last 8 games. Right now they are 7-7 after starting 6-3. After being in firm control of 1st place, the club no longer controls its own destiny. In 6 of the 7 losses this year the team blew leads late in the game. In their 2012 campaign the team fell apart late a lot there too. That kind of lack in focus can be directed at the head coach.
Now team is no longer in the top 2 or 3 teams in penalties but they are still have way too many. This directly points to leadership and lack of discipline. The team is tied for 9th in the league this season for the most penalties with Baltimore and the Jets with 97 total flags thrown against this season. That breaks down to almost 7 infractions per game for a total of 813 yards so far. What team couldn’t use an extra 813 in a season? Not their highest total under Schwartz but the team still has 2 games left. In their most recent loss to Baltimore the Lions had 8 penalties for 89 yards. That is almost the length of the field. In a close game where your defense did not give up any touchdowns this is unacceptable.
The team also turned the ball over 3 times in their last loss. Championship caliber teams do not turn the ball of a lot. Currently the team has the 2nd most turnovers in the NFL at 31 only behind the NY Giants. Only 2 behind the season total of last season of 33. When you are giving the other team 2 extra possessions per game something is wrong. Sloppy play can be attributed to coaches not holding players accountable for their mistakes.
The franchise is 29-47 during Schwartz tenure as head coach. That is a win percentage of 38%. Only in 2011 did the team finish above .500 and that team got bounced in the first round of the playoffs. The team may turn it around but their time is running Schwartz.
Keith B. Holt
Follow on Twitter @Kholtjr