Schwartz needs Lions to win now

Posted Nov. 24, 2010 @ 6:41 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

I was watching the campy but memorable movie "A Few Good Men" the other night which, overacting aside, has its share of scenes that stick with you.

One sticks out today as I ponder the current state of the Lions. It's the scene where Kevin Bacon's character, the prosecuting lawyer, delivers his "these are the facts in this case, and they are undisputed" opening statement at the trial.

And with regard to the Lions, here they are: They are 2-8, the same as they were at this point last season. Head coach Jim Schwartz knows he needs to win. And that winning has to start very soon.

Although the faithful has yet to turn on Schwartz, the local papers are starting to bear down and chirp a little. Recently, there have been polls on their Web sites, asking where the blame be placed. It's about 50-50 right now.

When asked about that record being the same as in last year's two-win season, Schwartz danced a little.

"Are we a better team? Yeah. It's pretty obvious we're a better team," Schwartz said. "Our record's the same. ... And that's about all that we have to go on.

"Bill Parcells said: 'You are what your record says you are and nothing else matters.' That's what we'll keep on going with. Every week we'll try to win that game, and there's nothing else that matters other than doing that. So, are we a better team? Yeah. Is our record the same? Yeah, it is.

"So, you are what your record says you are. We're a 2-8 football team."

It's a tough act to keep up with because most people would agree that the team is in far better shape than it was one year ago. But why haven't there been more wins? For one, injuries have hurt. There's no question. And there was no way Schwartz could say this and come off as anything but an excuse maker, but you know he thinks it.

Schwartz also knows his season changed on a dime when the Lions couldn't finish off the win against the Jets. Or, if you want to get more specific, when Matthew Stafford went down and Schwartz called for a curious pass (with Drew Stanton at QB) late in the game and they were trying to run out the clock.

It's an example of a coach outsmarting himself. Bill Belichick can get away with this. Schwartz can't yet. And of course, who did Schwartz cut his coaching teeth under? Yeah, the guy he'll face Thursday. When asked about working for Belichick in Cleveland, Schwartz said something interesting.

"Whatever it is, whether it’s travel, whether it’s meals, he touches every single thing. Everything that affects the players is important to him," he said.

And you almost have to wonder if Schwartz isn't spreading himself too thin with his team right now. Only certain guys can pull that off, very few in fact.

What he must focus solely on is getting wins. Otherwise, he might face the undeniable fact that he'll have a two-year record on par with Marty Mornhinweg, who was fired after 24 months on the job, going 5-27 with the team in that stretch.

The progress Schwartz was talking about? It's there. The team was outscored by a whopping 232 points last season. This year that number is three right now. After three straight seasons of a 32nd-ranked defense, it's now 13 spots better. They're in most games until the end.

But a quick look at that schedule is daunting. Try to find more than one winnable game (at Miami? Minnesota?) to avoid the dreaded 5-27.

The good cheer can return with a Thanksgiving Day win. The Lions have dropped nine straight on the day, and the last six have come by a combined 139 points. Give the fans something to cheer about, or better yet, something to believe in. They see the team, they know it's better than last year, but the record says otherwise. Remind them they do have something to be thankful for.