A month ago, Jim Schwartz's Detroit Lions sat in first place in the NFC North. Today, he's out of a job.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Media's Albert Breer reported Monday that Schwartz had been fired as coach of the team after five seasons in Detroit. The team held a news conference later in the day to confirm the decision.
Breer added that according to a team source, general manager Martin Mayhew and president Tom Lewand would be retained. At the aforementioned news conference, Lewand announced that offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and wide receivers coach Tim Lappano were let go as well.
Back-to-back losing seasons doomed Schwartz, who oversaw a Lions team that crumbled down the stretch this season, losing six of its last seven to tumble out of postseason contention.
Schwartz joins the pile of coaches who failed in the seemingly futile attempt to turn around a decrepit Lions franchise. The firing ends the longest-tenured coaching run in Detroit since Wayne Fontes was fired in 1996.
The Lions dismissed Schwartz with two years and $12 million remaining on his contract, according to NFL Media's Albert Breer.
The 47-year-old took over an 0-16 team in 2009 and helped improve the talent level on a team that steadily improved in his first three seasons.
However, his team fell off a cliff the last two campaigns.
The hotheaded coach presided over a team that could never corral its emotions on the field and consistently made boneheaded mistakes. In the last five seasons, only the Oakland Raiders have been penalized more than the Lions' 575 flags.
With the NFC North ripe for the taking this season, Detroit imploded while division opponents shuffled in backup quarterbacks and fought through decimated defenses. The Lions were the only team in the NFC North to start one signal-caller this season, and were far and away the healthiest team in the division.
They still couldn't get out of their own way.
The turmoil with the front office didn't help Schwartz's case to keep his job.
One key issue was Schwartz and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan's inability to help Matthew Stafford improve. Instead the duo insisted upon defending the $76 million quarterback, who regressed as the Lions faltered.
Stafford particularly stumbled in the fourth quarter during the Lions' 1-7 skid to end the season. His stats in that quarter (completion percentage of 36.9, five interceptions and a 31.5 passer rating) reflect the Lions' 2013 implosion.
Schwartz should be commended for taking on the challenge of turning around the worst team in professional sports. However, in his fifth season, he proved not to be the man to get a talented roster to the next level.