The end of the regular NFL season always marks the end of a few jobs. Coaches with losing records all line up to the chopping block to hear the final verdicts. Within a day of the season ending, a total of five coaches had their contracts cut and were booted out the door. Don’t feel too bad; with the money promised from their contracts, they’ll be living a happy, golf-filled retirement. Among those sing their jobs lie Detroit’s Schwartz, Washington’s Shanahan, Minnesota’s Frazier, Tampa’s Schiano and, shockingly, Cleveland’s Chudzinski. We’ll throw them out to sea and explore the “implications” (Always Sunny in Philadelphia reference) involved with each of the coaching situations. This’ll be a five part series that explores each of the coaches individually. WARNING: this article is largely based on opinion. Deal with it.
MAY THE SCHWARTZ BE WITH YOU
Lions coach Jim Schwartz successfully dragged the NFL’s joke of a team out of the mud and turned them into a Super Bowl contender. Unfortunately, roster decisions seem to have been Schwartz’s only prideful coaching decision. The team is stacked. Even former Indianapolis Coach Tony Dungy remarked on The Dan Patrick show that, if he ever came back, the Lions are by far the most promising team. They have it all – a franchise quarterback, the best receiver of all time, a solid run game and great pass rushers. So how did Schwartz let that kind of team down? A lack of discipline from himself and his players. The Lions are known for their penalties. It seemed like Schwartz lacked the ability to give them a good ol’ fashion spanking. The lack of discipline is also on the coach’s end. I’ll dig up a fossil and remind everyone of the Lions and Texans game in the 2012 season. Schwartz, frustrated about a Texan touchdown, threw his challenge flag despite the fact that all touchdowns are automatically reviewed. Apparently the consequence for his actions is that the touchdown would no longer be reviewed. Schwartz allowed the Texans an 80 yard touchdown run from a player who had clearly been tackled. Later in the game, Schwartz opted to kick a field goal on a third down instead of gaining some yardage. The field goal was missed. Such is the terrible decision making that has cost his team season after season. If I haven’t been clear enough on my view yet, I say good riddance!
The Lions have a slew of fantasy super-stars who will all remain relevant next season. It would behoove you to draft any one of Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford, Reggie Bush, Joique Bell and maybe even their new red zone threat Joseph Fauria (pronounced for-YAY). Megatron, regardless of team, coach, quarterback, or laws of physics, will always be a fantasy stud. Stafford, on the other hand, has been in a steep decline since his stellar 2011 season. The coaching change should be interesting and, depending who comes in, will likely benefit his game. It’s a plus that the team seems quarterback focused on their coach hunt as their first interviewee was Jim Caldwell, i.e. Peyton Manning’s former quarterback coach. I’m not saying that Stafford will throw Peyton-like numbers next season, but at least expect him to improve his crummy passer rating. As far as the runners go, it seems like Bush morphed into a sort of mentor for Bell this season. Even with a coaching change, I’d expect Bell to share the load pretty evenly and become a (nearly) week to week fantasy starter. With the improved passing game that is likely to come, the run game will certainly improve to open up the field. Hopefully we’ll see a drastically changed Lions team emerging next season no matter who takes over the helm. This isn’t a drastic, Kansas City-esque change; it’s one of NFL’s most stacked teams finally hiring a leader.
Next up, we’ll explore why the league will miss the entertaining Shanahanagans…