Lions Hire Schwartz As Head Coach

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

The Detroit Lions agreed on a four-year deal Thursday with Tennessee defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz to be their coach.

Schwartz will attempt to lead a turnaround for the NFL's first
0-16 team. The Lions fired Rod Marinelli two weeks ago and
interviewed several candidates, including Dolphins assistant head
coach Todd Bowles.

Schwartz will be introduced at a news conference Friday at Ford
Field, the home of the Lions.

The 42-year-old Schwartz just finished his eighth season as the
Titans' defensive coordinator and his 10th on their staff. He
interviewed for a second time with the Lions on Monday.

"After an extensive search that included several highly
qualified coaches, we are thrilled that Jim Schwartz will become
our team's head coach," team president Tom Lewand said in a
statement. "(General manager) Martin (Mayhew) and I believe that
Jim's qualifications and vision will lead this organization on the
field toward our goal of becoming a championship football team."

ESPN first reported the hiring.

The chance to lead an infamous team only seemed to motivate
Schwartz to get the job. "I don't shy away from a challenge," he
said during a news conference earlier this week.

Detroit interviewed Schwartz after the regular season and had to
wait for Tennessee to be eliminated from the playoffs to speak with
him again. The Titans lost to Baltimore on Saturday.

The Lions also showed some interest in Giants defensive
coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie
Frazier and Chargers defensive coordinator Ron Rivera.

Before being hired by Tennessee, Schwartz spent three years on
the Baltimore Ravens' staff. He also was a college and pro scout
for the Cleveland Browns and that experience might be valuable in
Detroit.

The Lions have the No. 1 pick in April, along with first- and
third-round picks from the Dallas Cowboys, and need to find players
to spark a turnaround.

Schwartz had an idea of what to do with the first pick.

"It's probably time to find a replacement for Bobby Layne,"
Schwartz said Monday, showing he knows at least a little about the
history of perhaps the NFL's worst franchise.

Lewand doubled over, then composed himself enough to avoid
bursting out with laughter.

What isn't a joke, though, is how bad Detroit has been and how
often it has failed to draft or acquire a viable, long-term option
at quarterback.

Since winning a title in 1957 with Layne under center, the Lions
have the same number of playoff victories as Pro Bowl QBs: one.

Detroit will count on Schwartz to use his background to come up
with ways to improve a defense that ranked last in the league and
gave up 517 points - threatening the NFL record for points allowed
(533) in a season set by the 1981 Baltimore Colts.

"There's no better feeling than turning a situation around,"
he has said.

Schwartz played linebacker at Georgetown, where he earned a
degree in economics. He started his coaching career as a graduate
assistant at Maryland in 1989, later had the same position at
Minnesota and went on to become a secondary coach for North
Carolina Central and linebackers coach at Colgate.

The Baltimore native became a candidate to be a head coach
because of what he's done in Tennessee. His resume and style led to
interviews in previous years with Miami, Atlanta, Washington and
San Francisco.

The Titans ranked in the top seven in yards allowed each of the
past two seasons and finished second in points allowed per game at
14.6 in 2008. His 2003 defense ranked first in the NFL in rushing
defense and led the league in third down defense at 27.7 - the
lowest since the 1998 Oakland Raiders.

The avid chess player analyzes football-related statistics,
looking for tendencies, then has the ability to relay what he has
learned to players.


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