Time For a Big Change in Detroit
The following year, Schwartz finally had his healthy quarterback for a full season and the Lions became the feel-good story of the NFL, starting the season off with 5 straight victories, including dramatic comebacks against the Cowboys and Vikings (two of my proudest moments as a Lions fan, I might add). Despite an early playoff exit, the season was an undoubtedly a success as a whole.
This season, the expectations were extremely high in Detroit for once. After building on their win totals the past three seasons, the Lions were expected to at least be a playoff team, potentially a sleeper for a deep playoff run. But not only has the young team failed to improve on last year’s success, they’ve actually taken a huge step in the wrong direction. At 1-3 after week 4, things just didn’t look right, and now at 4-8, it’s clearly time for changes to be made. Even though I love the guy and it would warm my heart to see him take down Harbaugh in a no-rules, weapon-of-choice cage match, it’s time for the Lions to move on past Schwartz, and here’s why:
1. Lack of Discipline:
The problem during last season was clear, and the answer was just never delivered. I love the energy Ndamukong Suh brings to the field, but he needs a coach that can control his endless motor, and I just don’t see any indication that Schwartz is that man. Along with Suh, there’s the whole Titus Young debacle and the team as a whole has just never been able to avoid un-timely and costly penalties since Schwartz took over. Two years ago, the Lions had the 2nd most penalties in the league. Last year, they had the 3rd most and this year they have the 6th most so far.
Schwartz needed his team to make a statement this year, a statement saying that this is not the same Lions team that beats itself with stupid penalties, and so far they’ve done nothing but further their unfortunate identity.
The recent dismissal of Young is a promising step, but for me it’s too little to late. What if the move was made earlier in the season? Although Ryan Broyles is now out for the season with a torn ACL, he was healthy at the beginning of the year, but barely saw any snaps, while Young was lining up in the wrong positions on the field and complaining about a lack of targets. Once Broyles started seeing the field, he was instantly a favorite target of Stafford’s and as one of the more humble athletes you’ll ever come across, it boggles my mind how it took the team until Week 7 to actually start giving attention to the NCAA’s Career Receptions Leader.
A true sign of growth for the Lions this year would have been a team that avoided the un-timely penalties of the past and it should have been one of the top priorities for Schwartz this season to make sure the Lions kept the miscues to a minimum no matter what it took.
2. Defense, Defense, Defense:
A former linebacker, Schwartz was brought in to help re-shape a Lions defense that had been one of the league’s worst for over a decade. There are still a couple holes and there have been a good amount of injuries this year, but it’s surprising to me how much this unit has underperformed.
Once Fairley started coming around about three weeks ago, the defensive line vastly improved, but it’s still not one of the stronger D-Lines in the league yet, despite having the potential to be. The linebackers are all strong and Chris Houston’s proven to be a solid number one cornerback, yet the team is just never able to get the stops they need to and always susceptive to the big play – against the Colts, the Lions allowed 4 plays of 40-or-more yards.
Defensive-minded coaches can’t allow their teams to have such consistent mental lapses, and I know I can’t speak for every Lions fan, but I certainly don’t have any confidence when our defense is out there and we need a stop.