Schwartz’s 5 years: Worst for any coach since expansion Bucs


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.

82 responses to “Schwartz’s 5 years: Worst for any coach since expansion Bucs

  1. Poor record, no control over his team usually spells disaster, but from where the Lions were coming from wink wink Marinelli, that was seen as positive.

  2. “…Schwartz’s record doesn’t look so bad when you consider where the Lions were when he took over…”
    Naw, Schwartz record looks bad no matter what sort of prism you look at it through.

  3. Any old school Bucs fan will tell you McKay got a raw deal with NFL expansion back in the day as the talent pool was sincerely crap. And remove his 3 worst years out of his 9 total years as HC: 0-14, 2-12, 2-14 (context- first 2 records were the first two years, 2-14 was in ’83, the year after Doug Williams was shortchanged on salary and left for the USFL and Injuries and no QB doomed him) in all Schwartz you sir suck and isn’t in McKay’s league as a coach.

  4. And the Lions think the man to turn the page on Schwartz’s abysmal .362 record is Tom Cable and his stunning .378 winning percentage.

  5. Remember his bravado and antics in his first several games. Pump his fist at, and mocking the opposite sideline. “Harbaugh, know the rules!” I guess he quickly got humbled.

  6. Of course, it’s the coach. Not the owner who rewards failure. Who didn’t clean out the front office that still has Millen cronies working there like Mayhew.

    The Fords are the problem. Beyond them it’s Lewand and Mayhew. Mayhew is the GM and his drafts outside of top10 picks have been poor enough they brought in a draft expert last year, the former Broncos GM. How great must it be to work for a team where you can acknowledge you’re so bad at your own job that you need to hire someone to take over your primary function? That would be like a CFO saying he’s no good with numbers or a CIO who says he doesn’t understand computers. Only the Lions. The blind loyalty and continued loyalty after failure is why this team underachieves, and that comes from ownership.

  7. he rode that 5 game winning streak for 2+ more years.

    tahe off those 5 wins, add in the playoff loss, and the lions were 24-52. that’s a .315 win percentage.

    even closer to 21-59 and .263.

    it’s really like millen never left.

    and now they want to hire tom cable.

  8. So Joe Thomas’s train of thought, any coach needs more than a year, is a little flawed. Schwartz had 5 and should’ve had. 1. Though I’m betting another coach would’ve had more success than Schwartz, the “look at me” guy.

  9. Can’t blame anyone else but himself. A Playoff caliber team was built for him and he could do nothing with it. The made the playoffs that year by default. Would have made it again this year, but his true nature showed itself.

  10. I STILL wanna know how they hired the imbecile’s imbecile, Matt Milan. Did they not watch him broadcast? Did they not see him in interviews? There’s doing a bad job and then there is stupid. Milan was both.

  11. In reality, Schwartz could be considered the worst of the coaches mentioned. Many of the other bad teams mentioned had no real talent to work with. Schwartz on the other hand had a pretty talented team and still didn’t win.

  12. I was a Schwartz supporter, and he did a good job bringing the Lions back to mediocrity from where they were. He was also learning on the job, and made his share of mistakes.

    As a life-long resident of the Detroit area, I have suffered through years of frustration with this team. In the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s the Lions had good teams. Since then an occasional year of pretty good but not great football.

    I think that typically the Lions get to the point where they are decent and then collectively seem to think that they have “made it” and quit working so hard. This goes on time after time. A good illustration of that was in the early 80’s after starting the season 4-0, they began shucking and jiving and adopted the “Another one Bites the Dust” motto. Other teams quickly showed the Lions what it was like to bite the dust.

    I think Schwartz had his foot on the players’ necks the first couple years, then when they became decent enough to make the playoffs, let off a little and treated them like responsible men. Then the team went backwards. The next coach should not let up – ever. That will be the only way to break the “Same old Lions” routine.

  13. schwartz had the 2nd worst 5 year record thats not the news here the news is he lasted 5 years and its only because the 3 coaches in the 5 years prior to schwartz were much worse just none lasted 5 years good news lions fans anothe 30 years or so with the current rate of improvement and you will have a consistent .500 team

  14. Don’t worry Jim, your record should stand for too long, especially if Dennis Allen has anything to say about it.

  15. I think Dennis Allen has a chance to catch him with 5 years of failure.

    Raiders/D Allen’s future

    2014: 5-11(one game improvement keep him the roster was crap).
    2015: 6-10(one game improvement the roster’s getting better will win more games next year)
    2016: 5-11(the front office finally realizes he can’t coach).

    It’s funny how everybody in the league is campaigning for the Raiders to keep David Shula 2.0 as head coach… Yet if their teams were to hire D Allen as Head coach they would be rioting in the When Tom Cable is mentioned as candidate.

  16. Happy New Year!!!

    Let’s all pretend the ford family doesn’t have anything to do with Continuity of Losing.

  17. If Schwartz weren’t so bloody obstinate, one could predict that Schwartz might learn something from his experience, recognize his mistakes, refine his perspective, corral his emotions and become a better coach in the future, maybe even as a head coach. But he is so bloody obstinate…

  18. Detroit needs to learn how to win. After they a few games in row, here’s what Detroit does.
    Treat a preseason win like winning the SB
    Start talking about having prefect season.
    Start talking about their first Super Bowl Win.
    Put out a video “And Another One Bites the Dust”
    As soon as ANY teams starts this, you just know they are ones going to bite the dust.

  19. What’s most delicious, as far as I’m concerned, is the fact that Schwantz will really only be remembered for one thing, and one thing only…getting slapped by Jim Harbaugh.

  20. Tom Cable will turn Detroit into champions. That guy just has something the linemen, who are the backbone of every team, fall for. They play hard give it their all, kind of like how they do with Rex. He made miracles happen with the Raiders and Jamarcus. I have no idea why he was fired or why he hasn’t been picked up by another team.

  21. How can that be? He was so savvy. His pressers with the media and how he so cleverly disguised injuries. His condesending attitutude towards anyone who questioned his decision making or game plan. His unrivaled knowledge of the rules and willingness to call other coaches out for their lack of it. His manly handshake abilities.

    I’m not sure this record jibes with the ‘Smartest guy in the room’ aura that Shartz possessed.

  22. With a ton of high picks the team should have some stars on their roster and they do. Unfortunately, they consistently do nothing with rounds 2 – 7. Look at the Hawks. Richard Sherman in round 6. Russell Wilson in round 3. Browner, Bennett and Avril in free agency. Marshawn Lynch for a 4th rounder in trade. It ain’t the coach building the roster in Detroit.

  23. Maybe a new coach will finally put this “great young talent that’s under-coached” blather to rest once and for all.

  24. Thing is, with one or two more wins this year to get into the playoffs, and maybe fluking out a playoff win, he gets extended.

    So he could be 31-49 and end the season on a high, and have years ahead on the job.

  25. Yes Patroit42. It is the town. Only place worse is Cleveland. Both are perennial losers no matter who the coach is.

  26. Jim Scwartz has that Suburban feel to him….If he coached Atlanta, he would live in Marietta, if he coached for Boston, he would live in Quincy, if he coached for Carolina, he would live in Concord….You get my drift.

    He is one of those goatee guys. Can’t trust him and his dirty handshakes.

  27. Need to FIRE the Ford’s.Until they stop being the owner’s you might as well forget having any kind of winning team.It will not matter who the head coach is or what kind of player’s you have the real head coach are the Ford’s.They will tell you what kind of record the Lion’s will have.Would be ashamed to say I own them at this time.The Ford’s must Go!!!!!!!!

  28. And as much as I complained about him, I still think he could have been a good coach if he had a good GM and the right support people to help him in the areas where he was deficient.

    Also I would have rather kept Schwartz as a coach than to go with some of the names I have been hearing which frankly frighten me quite a bit.

  29. riverhorsey

    Yet the kid is essentially refusing QB coaching. Wonder if Day-Twa can find a personality strong enough to “convince” him otherwise. Stafford has an amazing arm – but if he refuses a chance to get feedback to get better…. 10 cent head. And an enormous head that is. Payton Manning sized melon. With none of the brains.

  30. McKay did not ‘turn the Bucs around’, he built them up from the ground up. And also Mckay was a great interview, sense of humor and truthful. I was sorry to see him leave USC, it took a while to replace him, all the way to Pete Carroll.

  31. He is one of those goatee guys. Can’t trust him and his dirty handshakes.


    Schwartz wishes he could grow a goatee.

  32. It’s time to just disband the Lions and fold them into the rest of the league. 50 years of fail is enough – and it would help stop the dilution of talent in the NFL.

  33. sdsmooth says: Jan 1, 2014 11:46 AM

    Just like the Vikings … does it really matter who the next coach is?


    duece5 says:

    Obviously, you are clueless, or a packer fan-envious of our dominance in the division since our inception since 1961:

    Vikings div. titles: 18
    pukes: 12
    lions: 3

    Vikes are already on their way up, and finished with a 4-3-1 mark the 2nd half of the season, and did NOT quit on their coach, who was appropriately fired.

    Though 4-3-1 is not stellar, it was the best record in the NFC North the 2nd half of the season.

    There endeth the lesson!

  34. kerzondax:

    Lombardi was on TV all the time, and to me that made it obvious how lousy of a GM he would be, but he actually got the job because the owner of an NFL team thought the exact opposite. It doesn’t matter if you are sold out on somebody, all it takes is one NFL owner to have a different opinion and you can get paid millions without having to back up any of your claims! Lombardi basically bragged about how awesome of a GM he would be, but he never actually had to prove it.

    Also nice read by dapell above, I like seeing a concentrated focus on the key areas that need to be examined and overhauled. Lewand and Mayhew is exactly where the lens needs to be focused.

  35. I am a Packer fan but, one thing to overlook is that Schwartz’s bad record is extremely front loaded. He started off 4-24 in his first 28 games.

    Now in a lot of cases that would get you shown the door. However, the second year featured:

    – A backup QB playing most games
    – A lot of very close losses (e.g. The Megatron non-TD)
    – A decent 4 game win streak to close the season

    They then made the playoffs the next year, which was a pretty good effort considering that everytime they would get an RB playing well, he’d get hurt.

    2012 they were back to being bad, but again had a lot of close games as well as a secondary that missed a ridiculous amount of starts. A great D-line doesn’t help when you are starting #3, #4, #5 type guys in the secondary.

    2013 was finally the year where there could be no excuses. GB and CHI lost their QBs, you are 6-3 and only need to win 3 of the last 7 games against some middle of the road teams to win the division. You are relatively healthy, and finally have the RB position shored up.

  36. I think Schwartz is a terrible head coach, but this is a bit misleading. He did take over the first winless team since the expansion Bucs. That’s not exactly a situation that you turn around overnight.

  37. Punk coaches, punk players, morally and financially bankrupt atmosphere. Even Uncle Roger carrying them with a punk schedule couldn’t even get them in the playoffs. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of guys.

  38. Not a supporter of Schwartz, but come on. He’s gone. Move on. Nothing like kicking a guy when he’s down to start off the new year, eh? Nice piece PFT.

  39. Not that I follow the lions in a regular basis , but I didn’t know it was that bad , I assumed it was closer to a 500 pct , at least it appeared that way with all of the talent the lions have

  40. Can anyone here truthfully say that they remember when the Detroit Lions were a powerhouse team? Does anyone remember them ever being a perennial contender in the playoffs? If you can, your memory is better than mine.

  41. He took an immature Stafford and did not evaluate Staffords mental preparation for the game. Stafford was his and the Lions downfall. Way too inconsistent, bubble headed plays, and not leadership qualities. He costs Scwartz his job but blame Scwartz for not taking the kid aside and straightening him out.

  42. I believe three current teams have never been to the Super Bowl: the current Browns, Jaguars, and the Lions.

    The Lions have been around decades longer than the other two.

  43. boyfromoldflorida says:
    Jan 1, 2014 11:40 AM
    And the Lions think the man to turn the page on Schwartz’s abysmal .362 record is Tom Cable and his stunning .378 winning percentage.


    To be completely fair, he is only 1 of 2 coaches to secure 8-8 for the awful Raiders in the last 12 seasons.

    And that other coach inherited his team.

  44. in order to help fix the curse?

    Ford family patriarch Henry Ford – brilliant businessman, anti-semite, nazi sympathizer. Look it up.

    Lions last NFL championship – 1935, prior to ownership of Ford family.

  45. @lionsdraftguy

    So glad “classy” Harbaugh was the catalyst to your teams downfall! Ever since that “pat” on the back. The Lions have never been the same. *fistpump*

  46. Landry and McPeak coached in the pre-mass media and internet eras…..seems impossible that a guy could last that long anymore with a record like that. Schwartz got a lot of rope due to the train wreck he inherited, and the fact that by Year 3 things seemed to be on track. But the last two years gave new meaning to the old adage about “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory”……

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