Q. Schwartz under review: On ESPN’s 97-hour, 158-member panel pre-game show, Chris Mortensen reported that franchise owner William Clay Ford and his son, Bill Jr., could be weighing the coach’s future with the team, even though he signed a contract extension before the season.
According to Mortensen’s report, the issues that trouble ownership are the team’s image and Schwartz’s management style. How much validity should be given to the report?
A. Mortensen is legendary for his sources throughout the NFL, and they are at every level – players, coaches, upper management, agents and the players union.
However, one thing is certain in this report: he has not spoken to William Clay Ford.
However, that does not mean Mortensen hasn’t been given information from people with insights into the inner workings of the franchise. In short: this isn’t something that he is making up. It comes from his sources.
Q. What about the future of the head coach being reviewed? Should it be?
A. I would be surprised if it isn’t. When a team falls as far short of expectations as the Lions did this season, everything has to be looked at, and it doesn’t start with the ball boys, or travel plans or the color of the uniforms.
It has to start with the head coach. He’s the boss.
Q. Should Schwartz lose his job? And will he lose his job?
A. No to both. The Lions were on a steady upswing in his first three season – 2-14 to 6-10 to 10-6 and making the playoffs.
This season has been an implosion. The Lions hit the skids at the halfway point and never stopped the slide. It was just the opposite. It gained momentum, and that’s why reports have surfaced about tension in the front office, and Schwartz being on the hot seat.
My opinion on one issue is that the offseason arrests did not sit well with the Fords, and they shouldn’t. They are embedded in the southeast Michigan community more than other owners. Their name is a part of the fabric, and they take personally anything that tarnishes that name.
Q. Turnovers: How much did they hurt the Lions against the Bears?
A. They’ve been the story of the last four games.
A fumble return for a TD started the Packers on the way to a comeback win four weeks ago. On the road against the Cardinals the next week, two interception returns for touchdowns were part of a blizzard of turnovers that handed the game to a woeful Arizona team.
And last week, the Falcons didn’t need any help but got plenty in a one-sided 31-18 win.
Four of Chicago’s scoring possessions that covered 9, 10, 1 and 3 yards. The Lions aren’t good enough to overcome giveaways that set up the opponent for easy scores.
A. Bell had one nice kickoff return but the fumble canceled that.
Q. Yards battle:
A. It would have been better if one or both had reached their yardage level, but in terms of saving any part of the season, it didn’t really matter.