Jim Schwartz has been fired as the coach of the Detroit Lions after five years with the organization.
Despite winning six of their first nine games this season, the Lions crumbled down the stretch, finishing 7-9 and missing the playoffs.
After the Lions lost their season finale Sunday to the Minnesota Vikings, Schwartz said he would like to return to the team for a sixth season, but was unaware of what the future plans would hold for him.
Schwartz inherited a Detroit team that set an NFL record for futility in 2008, when they became the first team in league history to go 0-16. Schwartz coached the Lions to the playoffs in 2011, but four of his five seasons in Detroit — including each of the last two years — ended with a losing record.
“I know the way this business is, we all do, but we can’t worry about decisions that we don’t make,” Schwartz said after Sunday’s loss. “We’ve got to try our very best week in and week out and if we do, we can accept any decision that is made.
“I’d certainly like to be back. I feel like we have unfinished business here. We’ve come a long way in these years but we still have ground that we can make, and I’m anxious to have a chance to be able to do that.”
After a 4-4 start in 2012, the Lions lost their last eight games of the season. This season, Detroit started 6-3 and was in control of the NFC North before losing six of its last seven games to nosedive out of the playoff picture and into a meaningless game by the end of the season.
This season particularly stung for Lions players because of the way it ended. For Dominic Raiola, one of the few Lions still with the club from the team’s 0-16 season, the way this one ended was worse.
“To me, it feels worse because we had a chance to have a home playoff game and it just feels like we didn’t take advantage of that opportunity,” Raiola said. “It feels like everything that needed to happen or could of went our way, went our way. And we did not take advantage of those opportunities.”
Schwartz’s frustration seemed to boil over during a Week 16 loss to the New York Giants when he appeared to yell at Detroit fans for booing near the end of regulation. The Lions lost in overtime, ending their postseason bid.
The 47-year-old Schwartz went 29-51 and reached the postseason once in 2011, when Detroit posted a winning record for the first time since 2000.
- Previously covered University of Michigan for ESPN.com and AnnArbor.com
- Also covered Notre Dame for Fort Wayne Journal Gazette