KEY QUESTIONS: Jim Schwartz would not label this season a "failure"

Posted Dec 23, 2013

Tim Twentyman takes a look at key questions asked of head coach Jim Schwartz during his Monday press conference following Sunday’s loss to the New York Giants that eliminated the Lions from playoff contention

There will be no playoffs for the Detroit Lions this year after Sunday's overtime loss to the New York Giants.

After starting the year 6-3 and controlling their own playoff destiny as late into the season as Week 16, head coach Jim Schwartz still refused to call the season a failure during his Monday press conference.

"We didn't make the playoffs and I think that's obviously anybody's goal when they go in," he said. "We didn't achieve that goal, but I don't know if I'd be as strong to call it a failure. That was the word you used. I don't know if I'd be as strong to call it that."

Whatever your definition of is, is, it's hard not to look at this season in those terms when describing a team as talented as the Lions.

To have started the way they did, to now potentially having a top 10 draft pick depending on how Sunday's game in Minnesota goes, is quite the collapse.

"As a head coach standing up here, I have a hard time going down into our locker room with our players and calling them and calling us a failure," Schwartz said. "It is not what I believe.

"When I hear the word failure, I hear abject failure. Like nothing goes right. That's the connotation I get from it. Maybe you feel a little bit different, but I don't feel that about our team.

"I'm still proud of our team. Our team comes to battle and they play though the game, we just come up and play short. If somebody else wants to term that being a failure, that's certainly their right to. I'm still a half-full guy.

"Maybe my connotation of the word is a lot stronger than what you guys are thinking. We haven't accomplished what we wanted to accomplish and I'll just leave it at that."

How would Schwartz categorize his whole body of work so far as head coach?

He always says a team is only as good as it's record and his is 29-50 since taking over the Lions in 2009. He was asked about that record on Monday and whether it was enough to continue forward as head coach.

"I don't know, that's not for me to decide," he said. "Everybody else can write it. I don't know if I want to go there. I know where we were when I took over and I know where we are right now. We're still working, we're still battling, we still have another game to play this year."

Schwartz said he's a glass "half full" kind of guy.

He also said he didn't have any discussions with general Martin Mayhew that were out of the ordinary from meetings they have every Monday after a game.

What has been the biggest issue with quarterback Matthew Stafford's performance over the last six games?

Matthew StaffordQB Matthew Stafford (Photo: G. Smith/Detroit Lions)

There is certainly a correlation between the Lions losing five of their last six games and Stafford marred in the worst six-game stretch of his five-year career.

Stafford has 12 interceptions over that span and a passer rating of 66.4.

"I think there were times in this run where he was overly aggressive," Schwartz said. "I think he'd probably even tell you that.

"I don't think that he needs anything other than to keep playing and I think whether you have a slump in free throws or batting slump, or something else, I think you have to stick with your fundamentals. I think he's done a really good job of that. I think you have to practice well, I think he's done a good job of that. His preparation has been outstanding. I think that over the course of time his talent will show. It's been a tough situation. He was playing really well for us this year. He'll continue to play well for us."

Is there any consideration to shutting down Calvin Johnson for the year?

Johnson played just 56 percent of the offensive snaps Sunday with knee and ankle injuries he's been battling all year.

With nothing on the line in terms of the playoffs on Sunday, it might be time to shut Megatron down for the year.

"We'll see where he gets to this week," Schwartz said. "We'll make a decision when we get to Sunday, but I think every one of our players, and it goes for all 53 guys on the team, they're competitive and want to go out and play.

"His mobility and his speed were limited in this game, made it very difficult for him to get away from coverage and things like that. We'll see where he gets to this week, if he's available. He's a competitor, I'm sure he'll want to be out there and if there's no medical reason to keep him out, we'll have him out there."

If we have seen Johnson for the final time this season, he'll finish with 84 receptions for 1,492 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Does Schwartz regret verbally expressing his displeasure with the Ford Field crowd booing at the end of regulation?

The boos rained down when Schwartz decided to run out the clock with 23 seconds left with two timeouts on his own 25-yard line, instead of trying to position for a game-winning field goal.

"I probably should have done just what I did at the end of the second quarter and just kept it in my mind and said "why are people booing with four seconds left in the half?" he said.

"I just wanted to say, 'don't you know what the situation is and the risk reward of doing something other than what we did right there?' That probably would be it if you were to label it a regret. Just don't verbalize it, just keep it back in there.”