Key Questions: Jim Schwartz on his future and the future of his coaching staff

Posted Dec 31, 2012

Jim Schwartz also answers questions regarding free agents, offseason discipline and wide receiver Titus Young.

Lions head coach Jim Schwartz held his end-of-the-season press conference Monday and the No. 1 question on everyone's mind was the immediate future of his job status on a day appropriately coined as "Black Monday" in the NFL.

Schwartz admitted that 4-12 wasn't good enough and that he's ultimately judged on wins.

Here are key questions answered during Schwartz's season-ending press conference:

Will Jim Schwartz be back in 2013?

Schwartz said the Ford Family is heavily involved in the season wrap-up evaluation process, but did not want to comment on any specific conversations he's had with owner William Clay Ford or vice chairman Bill Ford.

"You know, I think I'll just stay where I was yesterday on that and just take an approach of not commenting on job status, contract and stuff like that," Schwartz said.

"I think part of that whole thing that came yesterday was, you know, trying to get people to comment on it, including me. I think I'll just stay with what I believe in keeping my focus on working to get this team back where we all want. Ownership, coaches, players, fans, everybody wants this team to be successful. If our focus is on that, then we're focused on the right thing."

Schwartz is signed through 2015 and there's no indication he won't be back next season.

What about changes to the coaching staff?

Expect some changes, especially at the assistant coach level.

Schwartz said those evaluations will come over the next three days.

It's probably needed to mix up the coaching staff after a 4-12 season in which some young players didn't show a whole lot of progression.

"That's always a work in progress," Schwartz said. "I recognize that some people would like to advance and there are going to be opportunities for some. I've always taken the approach that if they have an opportunity, particularly coordinator jobs or quality control guys that can get position jobs, if we can't fill that career advancement here, I certainly want our guys to advance.

"That stuff you just have to handle as it comes along, but our end of season sort of system, it'll be over the next three days or so. You know, we have a lot of meetings and evaluations of, you know, everything that happens with a coaching staff, players, to you name it. We're just starting all that process right now."

Schwartz later said that continuity would go a long way to helping quarterback Matthew Stafford take the proper progression forward, which says a lot about the future of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and the likelihood that he'll return for a fifth season next year.

Both Linehan and defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham are expected to be back next season, but the final decision will be made over the next few days, according to Schwartz.

Nearly half of the players on the roster are unrestricted free agents. Who stays and who goes?

Make no mistake about it, the roster is going to look significantly different next season, and that's not particularly a bad thing after 4-12.

The Lions are just in the infancy stages of that process, though, according to Schwartz.

The core pieces are in place - Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Ndamukong Suh - but decisions have to be made on the complimentary parts.

"Take them all as they come," Schwartz said. "We really don't have a particular timetable for it. I mean, there' s a long time before guys become free agents before the new year comes as far as cap and things like that. I think that's a good thing because it gives you time to work through all the dynamics and all the different things that go along. You don't have to make rash decisions."

Schwartz said a lot of those decisions would come when the coaches reconvene after a break and look at the cut-up of the season again and re-evaluate players.

"As we approach these next couple days we'll look at a lot of different areas, things they need to improve on, things they, everything else, what their production was and stats. Then, when we come back, we go through all our cut-ups and watch the whole season again from a different point of view after having a couple weeks off, stepping back from and watching the entire season.

"(Some) evaluation changes. Maybe somebody had a really good finish to the season but struggled early in the season and you felt better about them today than you did a month ago. Or maybe it's the opposite. Maybe somebody started off strong and then faded at the finish and your evaluation didn't take really into consideration.

"I think that the freshness of the season, the disappointment of our season, is something that we need to temper with an objective approach."

Did the negative headlines of last offseason have any affect on this team?

The Lions were branded the "Bad Boys" of the NFL last offseason when Mikel Leshoure, Nick Fairley and Aaron Berry were each arrested multiple times. Berry was eventually cut, Leshoure was suspended two games by the NFL and Fairley is still working through the judicial system in Alabama.

Schwartz was asked Monday what his message to the team would be before everyone headed their own ways.

"Everybody has personal responsibility," he said. "We've seen what happens when guys don't take care of their stuff. It can affect the team. It can also affect them personally and their professional careers. Every situation is different but as a team, off the field incidents are extremely detrimental to what we want to do. We will make every effort as a team to prepare to move on from people that make bad decisions.

"I think that you can't prepare for everything, but when people prove that they can't make good decisions, then as an organization we need to prepare to be able to go without them."

What does the future hold for exiled receiver Titus Young?

Schwartz didn't close the door on the possibility that Young, who dealt with injury and disciplinary problems, could still play for the Lions in next season.

"Yeah, he's still on our roster and everybody that's on our roster is still on our roster for a reason," he said. "There's some guys that started the season with us that are no longer with us that have been released. So there is still a window there.

"There is a process involved there. He's a very talented player. Obviously he made a difference when he was on the field. Particularly with the way their injuries went, with Nate Burleson and then later [Ryan] Broyles. It affected the team not having him out there."