If nothing else, Lions coach Jim Schwartz accomplished this during his tenure in Detroit: He stayed on the job far longer than most coaches with his record.
In fact, for Schwartz to last five years while compiling a record of 29-51 is almost unheard of: According to ESPN, the last coach to make it through five full seasons with a winning percentage worse than Schwartz’s .362 was John McKay, who took over the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976 and went 22-53-1 in his first five seasons.
In NFL history, only five coaches have made it through five full seasons on the job with a worse record than Schwartz. In addition to McKay they were Bert Bell in Philadelphia (10-44-2, 1936-1940), Tom Landry in Dallas (18-46-4, 1960-1964), Bill McPeak in Washington (21-46-3, 1961-1965) and Bart Starr in Green Bay (26-47-1, 1975-1979).
That’s actually not a bad list to be a part of. Landry is a Hall of Famer as the Super Bowl-winning coach of the Cowboys, and Bell and Starr are Hall of Famers, too, although Bell is in the Hall of Fame for what he did as an owner and NFL commissioner, and Starr is in the Hall of Fame as a quarterback, not a coach. McKay eventually turned the Bucs around and got them to the playoffs. McPeak, like Schwartz, was fired after his fifth season.
Schwartz’s record doesn’t look so bad when you consider where the Lions were when he took over: Detroit was coming off an 0-16 season, and the Lions were better in Schwartz’s five years than they were in the five years before he arrived (21-59).
The real problem for the Lions is they’ve been consistently terrible for more than a decade now. Since Matt Millen arrived as team president before the 2001 season, the Lions are 60-148, by far the worst record of any team in the NFL during that time. Schwartz is far from the only coach to fail with the Lions. Detroit needs to find some coach who can, somehow, turn it around.