The contract extension negotiated last week between Coach Jim Schwartz and the Lions falls into two of those categories. It’s a good deal for both sides, and it’s the only thing that makes sense.
When you think about it, what else was there to think about, except an extension for Schwartz, as he was entering the final year of the four-year contract when the Lions’ hired him as head coach in 2009?
The Lions are a young team on the rise, with a franchise quarterback in
Was there any reason for the Lions to look for a replacement for Schwartz? Or any reason for Schwartz to seek greener pastures in another year?
The answer is an absolute “no” on both counts.
This week’s Monday Countdown focuses on Schwartz’s union with the Lions, where he ranks with the NFL’s coaching Class of 2009 - when 10 teams hired new head coaches - and something that he has accomplished that puts him in surprisingly rare company with other Lions’ head coaches.
With start with Schwartz:
1. Bread crumbs: In following the trail leading to Schwartz getting a new deal, there never seemed any doubt that Schwartz and the Lions would agree on an extension. But the longer it went on without a resolution of what seemed like a slam dunk, the more it opened speculation as to whether Schwartz really is happy with his situation in Detroit.
One clue should have been that the Lions already had extended the contracts of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham.
Lions management must have felt certain it would reach agreement with Schwartz on an extension before adding years to two of his key assistants.
Schwartz and the Lions both refused any specific comment on his contract, and they’ve kept a lid on terms of his deal - both length and salary.
Since Schwartz served three years on the original four-year deal, it would seem that the extension would be for another two or three years. In other words, he will have the same three- or four-year window before another negotiation is in order. That’s my best guess, anyway.
2. Moving on up: The Lions have improved their won-lost record in all three seasons under Schwartz. He inherited a team that was 0-16 in 2008 and produced successive regular-season won-lost records of 2-14, 6-10 and 10-6.
Obviously, he only had to win one game to improve over the 2008 disaster and win three in 2010 to show improvement again.
But getting better steadily is not something previous Lions head coaches have been able to accomplish.
In fact, it has been 49 years since any Lions head coach has done that. The Lions were 3-8-1 in 1959 under George Wilson. They had a steady three-season climb in the next three seasons -- 7-5, 8-5-1 and 11-3.
It should be noted that the Lions made the playoffs four times in five seasons under Wayne Fontes from 1991-95, but their won-lost records declined in 1992 and 1994 from the previous season.
And the Lions had four straight winning seasons under Joe Schmidt
3. NFL Class of ’09: Of the 10 head coaches hired in 2009, Schwartz, Rex Ryan of the Jets and Chan Gailey of Buffalo are the only ones who have survived to coach a fourth season. Gailey has a 16-32 record, without a playoff appearance. The Jets are 28-20 under Ryan in the regular seaso, with two trips to the AFC Championship.
Schwartz is 18-30 in the regular season.
Raheem Morris (Tampa Bay), Steve Spagnuolo (St. Louis) and Jim Caldwell (Indianapolis) were fired after three seasons.
The Colts were 14-2 and lost in the Super Bowl in Caldwell’s first season but went 2-14 last season when Peyton Manning missed the season with a neck injury. Caldwell was let go in a massive rebuilding program.
Jim Mora in Seattle had the shortest tenure. He was fired after a 5-11 in one season.
4. Bill Parcells: Maybe I missed something, but was there one peep about Bill Parcells possibly being a candidate in Detroit if the Lions couldn’t work out a deal with Schwartz? Isn’t Parcells a candidate in waiting for every NFL job?
5. Top 100: The top 10 in a players poll was revealed on the NFL Network last week, and
Quarterbacks belong in a special category, and there is no beef with ranking Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees 1-2, In fact, I was surprised that Tom Brady was No. 4. Based on his record, I thought Brady would be first or second.
But Johnson is the best non-quarterback in the NFL, and being ranked first behind the quarterbacks was accurate.
6. 2007 draft: It might be the best since the 1983 draft that sent first-rounders such as John Elway, Dan Marino, Eric Dickerson and Jim Kelly to the Hall of Fame.
The top 100 poll had four 2007 draftees in the top 10. In addition to Johnson, Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis was fifth, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson eighth and 49ers middle linebacker Patrick Willis 10th.
The ’07 draft also might have the biggest flop of all time - quarterback JaMarcus Russell, drafted first overall by the Raiders.
7. Nick Fairley: Whatever prompted Fairley to attend the rookie symposium in Cleveland, it was a good move on his part. Fairley had two offseason arrests and likely will face punishment from the NFL in the form of a suspension
However, it doesn’t matter what forum is responsible for handing out punishment. One question asked is what you’re doing to improve your life. Asking to attend the symposium, which Fairley missed in his rookie season because of the owners’ lockout, was a good move. It might buy him some leniency.
8. Aaron Berry: If Berry indeed is a first-time offender, which seems to be the case, it’s likely that he will not be subject to suspension under NFL rules.
That doesn’t say anything about his lack of judgment in the incident, but the Lions need one of their better cornerbacks to start the season.