December 30th, 2013 was known as Black Monday around the National Football League. Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz was fired from the team along with Leslie Frazier of the Minnesota Vikings, Mike Shanahan from the Washington Redskins, and also Greg Schiano of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Although this year wasn’t unprecedented in the number of head coaches fired, these were some significant cuts. Most likely, Jim Schwartz was guilty of doing too little, too late.
In the case of Jim Schwartz, he had been with the Lions for five seasons. He coached them to the playoffs in 2011, but they never again rose to that level of success. The President of the Detroit Lions, Tom Lewand put it rather bluntly when he said, “The simple fact is we have fallen short of the expectations of our ownership, and those expectations are simple. He went on to say that the team’s ownership, “very strongly, wants to bring a consistently winning football team to the fans of the city of Detroit.”
Jim Schwartz has undeniably had a lack-luster few seasons, but perhaps the team’s performance in the 2013 season was the nail in the coffin. Jim Schwartz called a questionable fake field goal during a crucial mid-November game with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers capitalized on the failed stunt and started Jim Schwartz’ career-ending nose dive. The team had the worst turnover statistics in the entire league. The Lions lost the last eight games of the season with enough blame to go around the entire team and coaching staff. Even offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and receivers coach Tim Lappano were sacked on Black Monday.
Many critics of the Detroit Lions feel that the talent is there. They were poised to have a commanding stance in the NFC North, but had some truly depressing outings in the second half of the season. Seven of their last nine defeats were lost in the fourth quarter after the Lions seemed to have the games won. NFL teams are in the business of winning games and coaches like Jim Schwartz get replaced if they fail at that task.