(Photo credit: LOUIS DELMAS waves goodbye to fans and Lions 2012 season. – Andre Smith photo)
As the very interesting NFL Playoffs continue, the road to New Orleans will get clearer and clearer. As I watched city after city compete at the highest professional level, I could not help but reflect on the Detroit Lions
What was painfully clear in the 2012 campaign was the Lions produced an inadequate and poor effort, losing eighth straight games in the season ending, 26-24, loss to the Chicago Bears at Ford Field.
The Lions finished the season an inferior 4-12, tied for the worst record in the NFC and they didn’t even win an NFC North game and got outscored, 95-54, in their final three games.
After a much hyped offseason, which was fueled for the fans following a Lions playoff berth as a result of an impressive 10-6 record in the 2011 season, to come all the way down like the team has put a lot of question on the table.
One interrogative I get from friends and readers is should the Lions fire head Coach Jim Schwartz and/or general manager Martin Mayhew? Especially, in light of the surprising firing of coaches in all the Professional leagues, it is not a stretch when to suggest that Schwartz should be canned after this beyond disappointing season.
After the season closing loss to Chicago, Schwartz was drilled by the media asking him if he thought his job was in jeopardy, and, be simply told all it is a private conversation with the Ford family: however, he did say: “The thing I’m most concerned about is getting this team back to where we all want it to be. When the story of the season is written, it’s going to say 4-12 and nobody’s happy with that – players, coaches, front office, ownership, everybody. Everybody’s in the same boat with that. But we’re all focused on getting that right. There’s nobody happy with that. And whether you’re a player or you’re a coach in this league, it just comes with the territory, and particularly when you have a season like we did.
“I’ll say this, I’m not proud at all of our record; there’s things that we can do better. But I am proud of this team. I’m proud of the way that they’ve fought in this game, but I’m not proud of our record and we’re very determined to get it right.”
Since Schwartz and Mayhew have improved the Lions record for three consecutive years, this woeful season is no reason to fire them both. Sure I concur that 2013 should be a season on the edge, and, a much improve record will likely be mandatory.
Looking at the 2012 Lions, I saw a lot of close games, and, at least four of those should have been victories. Maybe another four were right on the edge.
Many believe the Lions are far away from being a winning team, but if a team goes 10-6, with many of the same players, maybe with better coaching, a few more breaks, and a few valued additions they surely could get the team back to its 2011 success.
This offseason will be very interesting as a noteworthy number of players have their contracts up.
Said Schwartz about his core players: “There are a lot of things that go into the NFL, job security goes in – that’s players, that’s coaches; everybody’s in that same boat. There also are the challenges of salary cap era and free agency and things like that. I think we have 18 guys whose contracts are up. It’s going to be a challenge, but it’s no different than last year. Last year was a challenge also. We had to let a couple guys go. We weren’t able to get any free agents. We know what’s ahead of us. We know that we’re going to have to work very hard. We can do it.”
In the 2012 offseason Mayhew retained defense end Cliff Avril and linebacker Stephen Tulloch, and, drafted offensive tackle Riley Reiff. Not bad. I say. However, the 2013 offseason will be a do or die effort from the Lions hierarchy
Detroit started the season with dreams of competing for a Super Bowl, but injuries to the secondary, defensive line and receiver crops knocked the team off its base.
“Even with all the injuries, as unexpected as they may have been,” Schwartz said, “the coaching staff needed to do a better job adjusting. We didn’t do a good enough job managing it. Injuries are just life in the NFL and you need to be able to adjust.”
Leland Stein can be reached at email@example.com or Twitter @LelandSteinIII