Jim Schwartz is all but certain to not return as coach of the Detroit Lions and his expected demise will be because of one player: quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Others will argue that Stafford isn’t the only player to blame for the disappointing state of affairs for the Lions, who all but had the NFL‘s North Division in the NFC sealed a few weeks ago, prior to losing games they should have had. Sunday’s overtime loss to the New York Giants, who have been struggling mightily themselves, was obviously the last straw. Schwartz is likely to be a goner but his successor most likely will have to deal with Stafford, who has plenty of money tied up in his contract. Because his contract is so expensive, the Lions won’t be able to get rid of Stafford as easily as they will Schwartz.
When he came to the Lions five seasons ago, Schwartz did what most NFL coaches do in trying to turn a franchise around: determine who his quarterback will be and then sink or swim with him.
In his third year, when Schwartz took the Lions to the playoffs after Stafford had a decent season, his coaching career was definitely swimming. But with poor production from Stafford and the Lions the past two seasons, Schwartz has been slowing sinking to his demise. Stafford’s late fourth-quarter interception, which the Giants returned for a touchdown to tie the game and send it into overtime, was further indication how badly Schwartz has handled his quarterback and his team from a disciplinary standpoint. After the Lions fire Schwartz, they have to find a coach who can turn Stafford into a consistent winner.
It won’t be easy, but the Lions have no choice now but to start from scratch.