Forget the press conference last January. Forget the draft in April. Forget all the mini-camps and OTAs and even training camp.
Opening day in New Orleans? Pfft! The first win, against Washington? Puh-leeze.
Jim Schwartz officially became a Lions head coach Sunday, in the steady rain in Baltimore, his hometown. 48-3, Ravens. This is how they treat the native sons in the Crab City? It was the worst homecoming since Benigno Aquino was gunned down on the tarmac in the Philippines.
Schwartz was a Lions coach in name only—like a titular head—for the first 12 games of his tenure. But yesterday he was indoctrinated. He earned his mane.
It took until the 13th game, but there Schwartz was—at the post-game podium—madder than a wet hen.
“I hope you’re not going live with this,” he warned the electronic media folks. “If you are, you might want to make sure you’re on a delay.”
It wasn’t quite “See you at the cemetery” or “I don’t coach this stuff!” or “I’m the ‘Big Buck’,” but Schwartz was just getting started.
“That’s not us,” he seethed. “And it won’t be us. I thought we were ready to play football today, and I was wrong.”
Then this: “There will be accountability, and it goes beyond benching.”
Legendary Red Wings coach and GM Jack Adams used to keep train tickets to Edmonton—the team’s minor league affiliate in those days of the 1950s—plainly visible, sticking out of the breast pocket of his jacket. The implication was clear, even to the bumpkin hockey players of the day.
Schwartz threatened, basically, to excise some players forthwith after Sunday’s manhandling by the Ravens, in the city of Edgar Allan Poe, and even old Edgar never penned anything so horrific.
It was a dark and stormy afternoon…
Schwartz is now a Lions coach. You can remove the training wheels now. Tear up the temporary permit and give him his permanent license. His baptism is now complete.
Schwartz joins Monte Clark, whose morbid reference to being buried in Anaheim after a 1-4 start became legend around town—especially since the Lions turned things around and finished 9-7 and won the Central Division.
He joins Marty Mornhinweg, who drove away from training camp in disgust on his motorcycle one afternoon.
He joins Bobby Ross, who threw a tantrum after a road game, trying to convince us that he really WAS a good football coach, despite evidence on the field to the contrary.
He joins Wayne Fontes, who tried to become a human lightning rod, declaring that he was “The Big Buck” and all critiques should be addressed to him, thank you.
And, Schwartz joins Rod Marinelli, whose weekly metaphors made him sound like your crazy uncle.
You’re a Lions coach now, Schwartzie! Congratulations.
I’m surprised it took him this long, frankly. Maybe it’s fitting that his first post-game slow burn came in Baltimore, about six miles from where he grew up. Something about being embarrassed in front of friends and family, who normally don’t get to see the Lions play.
Schwartz gave the players the day off today, so that he may pore over film and pick out the miscreants. Kind of like a video version of a police lineup.
“There, officer! THAT’S him! THAT’S the man who waved at Ray Rice with a feeble tackling try!”
The above line could be repeated about half a dozen times, all about different defenders.
The Lions stepped onto the field in the rain in Baltimore and then played like they were made of sugar. They “tackled” like it was touch football.
The Lions lost 48-3? Eastern Michigan University ought to sue for copyright infringement.
It could have been worse, had Ravens coach John Harbaugh not pulled his starters after three quarters.
Oh, and about that….
The Lions lost RB Kevin Smith, who was having a decent year, for the season and maybe beyond to a serious knee injury. The play happened with the Lions losing by gobs of points, early in the fourth quarter. Schwartz might want to save some of the vilifying for himself. Why was Smith in the ballgame at that point?
And while we’re at it, why was Daunte Culpepper in the ballgame—during the opening possession?
Culpepper is so out of Detroit, it’s not even funny. He has as much chance of returning to the Motor City as Stroh’s. Yet not only was he starting, he stayed in the game for all 60 minutes. And poor Drew Stanton, who must have done something horrible to someone in the organization, couldn’t even get into a 48-3 game?
That’s a great confidence builder—the coach is afraid you might screw things up with your team trailing by 45 points.
But losing Smith to an injury that may affect his career, when he had as much business being in the game at that point as me, and last I looked I’m not even on the practice squad, is a tough pill to swallow. Schwartz says there’ll be accountability; he might want to start with himself.
Will Schwartz cut players today? This week? It would seem to be one of those closing the barn door after the horses are out things, but I still think it would send at least a modicum of a message. Hey, he’d be the first Lions coach to actually do that, so there’s something.
The Lions are three games away from another off-season full of hole-patching and four months away from their annual appearance in the Top Three picks of the draft.
And Jim Schwartz finally, FINALLY, officially became the team’s head coach yesterday, nearly a year after being hired. I’d shake his hand, but it’s going to be affixed to a video machine remote control all day today.
I wonder how long before he presses charges?