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Tom Lewand: Detroit Lions coach is best available job

The Detroit Lions' front office believes it is primed to win now, and a lack of success was the reason behind firing coach Jim Schwartz.

"I think this will be one of the most, if not the single most, attractive head coaching openings in the National Football League for a lot of different reasons," Lions president Tom Lewand said Monday. "I can verify that by the number of calls we have already gotten since the announcement was made at noon today."

Schwartz went 29-51 in five seasons after taking over a 0-16 team devoid of talent.

General manager Martin Mayhew said Schwartz was handed a tough task, but didn't finish the job.

"There isn't much of a comparison between where we were in 2009 and where we are now," Mayhew said. "... but we are trying to get to another level."

On offense, the Lions boast quarterback Matthew Stafford, playmakers Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush and a young offensive line. Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and the improved DeAndre Levy are building blocks on defense.

"We certainly think our talent level is approaching the point where we should be contending and we're not there now," Mayhew said.

That Mayhew kept his job and Schwartz was fired will suggest that the Ford family agrees with that assessment.

As for a coach who can get them "over the hump," both Lewand and Mayhew spoke in vague generalities. Mayhew did say that a "coach's ability to change the culture" would be one characteristic the team looks for in its next leader.

On the ever-important issue of helping Stafford improve, Mayhew said that wouldn't be the main criterion in searching for a new coach, but it will be a focal point of the offseason.

"I think every team in the league, all 32, want to have a detailed quarterback coach, somebody that is good at coaching quarterbacks," he said. "And that is certainly part of the equation, whether that's that head coach who has that responsibility or somebody on his staff."

The Lions cut loose offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and receivers coach Tim Lappano along with Schwartz, but kept the rest of the staff under contract for the time being. The move could be construed as a message that the disappointing offense -- including Stafford's regression -- will be of chief concern in the coaching search.

The latest "Around The League Podcast" recapped all of Week 17's wild action.

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