Below is the transcript of Jim Schwartz's press conference via the Lions.
Head Coach Jim Schwartz opening statement: "I recognize some faces from the airport last night and some from Monday. You've seen both of my suits (laughing) so if we have another one of these, bear with me a little bit. I apologize for being late today, I wanted to wait until my wife and kids were able to make it here to see this.
"To start out with some thank yous - it feels a little bit like the Oscar's up here. I want to extend a thanks for the confidence in me from the Ford family, from Mr. Ford all the way down. This is a tremendous responsibility and I won't let him down. I also want to thank my wife and my kids for allowing me to chase this coaching dream and the changes that (will) occur for them. I would like to thank Tom (Lewand) and Martin (Mayhew). I interviewed for five head coaching jobs and it's interesting to see the different procedures that GM's and personnel directors and team presidents take and the thing that struck immediately is that I said to myself, 'You know, if I was a General Manger, if I was a team president or an owner, I would try to run the search the same way.' I know it frustrated some of you (the media), not being able to get information, but believe me it was the right way and I have a tremendous amount of respect for the way they ran that operation.
"I don't want to get too far into thank yous, (but) I think there are two people who have mentored me in the past that I need to recognize and that's Bill Belichick, who gave me my start in the NFL in 1993 and allowed me the ability to grow in this business; and then Jeff Fisher in Tennessee who I had the distinct pleasure to spend the last 10 years with, including Super Bowls and the best record in the NFL a couple of times and including some bad times and some salary cap purges. (With Jeff) I went from being a quality control coach, to being a position coach, to being a coordinator and the confidence that he had in me is special and I wanted to acknowledge that.
"The last couple of days when things started rolling a little bit I started getting some emails and some voice messages from a lot of college friends, some guys I haven't talked to in 20 years, and I wanted to share one with you. One of my college teammates at Georgetown lives in the Metropolitan Detroit area and he sent me a message that said, 'Hey, I'm hearing your name a bunch, I'm not sure if it's true, but I wanted you to know that you'll love living here. It's a great place to raise your family.' That meant a lot to me. He also sent a little attachment and he said, 'If you want to find out about Detroit, read this article.'
"He attached Mitch Album's article from (Sports Illustrated) from a week or so ago. As I read it, he left a little note and he said, 'There's nobody from Detroit that reads that article that doesn't get a tear in their eye.' I've had some tears in my eyes, but growing up in Baltimore one of nine kids and my dad was a policeman and most of my friends dads were union workers, steel workers, blue collar guys and I couldn't help but identify with that. Like I said, this is my second suite, this is all I have. I'm a football coach. I'm a blue collar kid and I'm glad to be here in Detroit and hopefully we'll put a team on the field that Detroit will be proud of. You'll be proud of the way we play."
On facing the adversity of taking over the Lions: "You know I interviewed for the San Francisco job in 2004 and from 1999 until 2003 we had the best record in the National Football League in Tennessee. We had won a lot of games, we had been to the playoffs four or five years, but we really hadn't gone through bad times. There's an old adage that you find out a lot about people in the bad times. We went through a salary cap purge, we knew we were going to go through it. We had 30-some million dollars in dead money and we knew what the results were going to be, but we stuck with it. Watching the team sort of - you know, we lost the Steve McNair's and the Eddie George's and the Jevon Kearse's and the Kevin Carter's and Samari Rolle's - we saw the nucleus of our team disappear and we were left with a lot of rookies, a lot of low price players, but it didn't last very long. We were able to get out of that and I think that perspective has helped me in huger challenges, having lived through that, having been able to survive through that and just learn through bad times rather than experiencing success every year."
On what he liked about Mr. Ford during the interview process: "By the way, Nick (Cotsonika) scooped everybody last night and bought a ticket so he could get into the gate to be able to scoop everybody. Part of the interview process was them asking questions of me and trying to get a feel for me and then also me trying to get a feel (for them). If you're going to make a decision of some place where hopefully you'll spend the rest of your life, you need to respect the guys that you're going to be working with. I've been very fortunate in 16 years in the NFL to make a lot of contacts and to have worked for great people. I've exhausted all of them trying to ask more questions. The things I came back (with) made me very comfortable - not just meeting with those guys, but just the thoughts from other people, whether it's been former players that have played with Martin, people on the business end that have worked with Tom, they let me know what kind of men they are, what kind of football guys they are and it made me at ease with this decision."
On why he would want to come to an organization that has defied logic over the past years: "I can't speak of the past. I'm here right now; I'm not here to exercise any ghosts and those kinds of things. I said on Monday that my dad would be very disappointed if I backed away from a challenge - that's in our blood. There's no better feeling - we talked a little before about our salary cap year - there's no better feeling in football than turning a situation around. That's what drives me here. When we left Nashville on Monday I left the players a note, we had a very disappointing playoff loss, we had the best record in the National Football League this year and we had high hopes and we lost a close playoff game. The note I left the players was, 'One day we're going to hold the Lombardi trophy and it will be that much sweeter because of this loss and the perspective that this loss gives us.' I think it's the same thing that applies here. Our success will be so much sweeter here because of 0-16 and because of the past."
On his interactions with Mr. Ford: "Mr. Ford made me feel incredibly welcome when I met with him on Monday and I spoke with him today and I think that it's important for the head coach and the owner, not just to have a strong professional relationship, but to develop a little bit more of a personal relationship and I look forward to that."
On what he does and doesn't do with stats: "There's not a coach in the United States - high school, college or NFL - that doesn't use statistics to some degree. What we try to do, and this goes back to Bill Belichick, who is also an economics major, what we tried to do is we tried to identify the important stats and so many times writers will harp on, 'Ok, well they're the worst in the league in yards allowed, or this.' Try to find out what's meaningful, what correlates to wins and look at the game in a little different way. Statistics have been strong in baseball for a long time, but there are 162 games. Stats will bear out over 162 games, but 16 games is a little bit different. We started breaking down games not into just a game, but into series, looking a little bit farther. I think what it does is that it gives us an idea of how we can best use our practice time. We can devote time to third down defense. We can devote time to things that correlate to keeping points off the board, or keeping drives alive to score."
On if there is an advantage of being a non-system coach: "You know, that's interesting to hear you say that because that's the way that we approached our defense over the last years. You know, we never said, 'Hey, this is going to be the system,' whether it's a 3-4 or a 4-3 or 'This is the coverage that we're going to play.' We never really pigeon-holed ourselves that way because we said, 'We're going to do what the players do best. We're going to try to custom-build this every year and every year it's going to be a little bit different.' It's given us the flexibility to adjust. In the division we played in we had Indianapolis, which was a great passing team, a finesse so-to-speak run game; Jacksonville, which was a giant, power-running team; we had to have the ability to be able to change during the season. I think the same principles apply here. I've been very fortunate, like I said, to have seen the way that a Bill Belichick has done things, Jeff Fisher, Marvin Lewis when I was in Baltimore, and what it's done is, I'm not … I've developed my own style so-to-speak and am not married to a quote-blueprint."
On if he will run a 3-4 or a 4-3: "Whatever the players can do the best, most likely a 4-3. But I think too much is made when people hire head coaches; too much is made of scheme. I think the whole idea with coaching in the NFL is: put your players in the best position for them to be successful and it may change a little bit. I'd like to point out one example of that would be Mike Tomlin (who) is going to play for a Super Bowl. Mike was a Tampa Two guy. He had come up in Tampa Bay with Monte Kiffin; he had learned that defense (and) he went to Minnesota and he ran that defense. When he became the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, they had a really good 3-4, they had a good defensive coordinator and they had good defensive players that fit that scheme and Mike was smart enough to say, 'You know, this fits them best.' I'd keep that in mind."
On his first order of business and what input he will have in the draft: "(Will I) address it - not for awhile. Last night they asked me the question, 'Who are we going to take with the No. 1 pick?' and I hadn't even got my luggage yet. I know everybody's excited to get started but there are baby steps that need to be taken first. My first order of business is coaching staff and making a personal phone call to every player on the team and over the next couple days that's what I'm going to do; not only interview every remaining coach on this staff, but also start the process of interviewing coaches from other staffs. Like I said, it's important for me to make personal contact with every player on the team and then just find my way from the hotel to the facility would be a good way to start also."
On how he changes a losing mentality: "You know, I think it's a little bit like me at the end of the season; I don't exercise during the season and I eat poorly and I stay up late and I gain about 20 pounds. What I do when the season's over is I get on the treadmill and then I spend about 15 minutes and I'm so exhausted; I wipe myself off and maybe eat a little bit less that day. Then the next day I get on the treadmill again and get on the treadmill again; what I'm trying to say is: at the end of, maybe, six months, I will have lost that 20 pounds. If I try to lose it all at one time - lose it all in a week with some fad diet - I'll gain it right back. And I think when you talk about changing culture, when you talk about improving the team, my mantra is going to be - it's going to have to be a daily thing. It's going to have to be, 'Let's get better today. Let's not worry about what's going to happen a month from now.' In Tennessee, I would tell the defensive players at the beginning of training camp, 'Hey, our objective isn't to have a good training camp. Our objective is to have a good next practice, to have a good next meeting. If we do that, then 30 days from now we will have had the good training camp.' I think the same thing applies. That will be my message to the players."
On how far along he is in putting together a staff: "It's funny, I got a lot of phone calls over the past few days and it's been very humbling to get phone calls from people that are interested in joining; people that I - quite honestly - would be honored to join their staffs. I'd rather not get into specifics as far as names and things like that, but I've had a lot of phone calls from head coaches in the league and a lot of guys just giving advice - I'm sure they do it to a lot of first-time head coaches. And a common theme with all of them is, 'Don't think you have to hurry on a staff. The mistake I made 10 years ago, five years ago, three years ago is I tried to hire everybody the first day and you felt that urgency. Take your time a little bit more.' And there will be some that will be sooner than others, but what I'd rather do is go through maybe a little bit more of an exhaustive search rather than make too quick of a decision."
On the qualities he likes in a quarterback: "Your quarterback is the leader of your team and he is - I said it on Monday - he's the trump card of all positions. The quarterback … a good quarterback can hide a lot of other holes on your roster; if you don't have that quarterback, you have to be really good in a lot of other areas to overcome. I think, first of all, your quarterback has to be your hardest worker. There are a lot of stories in New England of Tom Brady; they reserve the parking space for the hardest worker in their offseason program and they almost etched Tom Brady's name on it because every year that was his parking spot. I think leadership means an incredible amount. Hard work means an incredible amount. Decision-making, accuracy as a thrower and ability to create, I think all those things are important."
On how difficult it will be to overcome a losing culture: "I understand what this city's gone through. As a kid, I was a tremendous sports fan and I lived and died with the Baltimore Colts and the Baltimore Orioles. We used to make fun of my brother-in-law - if the Orioles lost, he would beat his kids and put them to bed. I get that. I know what that's like to devote so much emotional (energy) into a team, but that's what makes the National Football League great. A lot of places, 0-16 might not have hurt as much as in Detroit. I think that's a good thing."
On if he's suggesting that 0-16 is a good thing: "No, no, it's a good thing that it hurt so much. Like I said, there may be some teams that wouldn't … or some cities that might not have cared as much."
On if this situation with the Lions is similar to the 'cap purge' he experienced in Tennessee: "I think - again, I hate to keep coming back to Monday - but I did reference, what the Lions have gone through with their roster, obviously there's some holes there, but no different than probably half the teams in the league at this time of year. They have things to correct. I think there are a couple good young players here; I'd really like to pay particular attention to offensive and defensive line (and) build this team to be a big, strong, physical team that can go win a game like today. Maybe it would be in Green Bay or Chicago. But I think, what we said before and I was on the same page with Tom and Martin in that, I don't think this team needs to be built as a dome team. I think you need to win games in December and in January - you do that by being big, physical and running the football. And that's the challenge from a lot of teams, not unique to the Detroit Lions."
On if he would voice his opinion to Lions' Owner William Clay Ford in a disagreement over a trade or draft choice: "I think that's the trust level that needs to be built is you need to have those kinds of discussions. That trust level will be built. Mr. Ford needs to be able to trust not only me but Martin and Tom to be able to do the right thing for the team. You mention my scouting background, I think I worked three years in scouting in Cleveland for Bill Belichick and it's been probably the best basis that I could have had to be an NFL coach because scouts and coaches look at the game two different ways. Scouts look at potential, scouts look at the future; coaches want to win tomorrow - they want to win the game. What it's done from a coaching (standpoint) - it's given me a lot more patience, it's given me a lot more long-term view. I think that will benefit me in those conversations."
On his conditions in taking this job and what he would do in a personnel disagreement: "To speak on conditions, if I had known it was this cold, I'd have asked for a lot more money (laughter). You know, I think the one thing we've learned in Tennessee - and on my board at times in the defensive room and in the staff room - is, 'It's amazing how much can get done when nobody's worried who gets credit for it.' I think the whole objective is to get the player right - to get the circumstance right - not who's right. I think that will be the emphasis here. It will be to get the player right. I've learned to respect a lot of people's opinions and I think everybody needs to work together. It's funny, I had a person ask me in Tennessee, 'Well, who makes the final decision on draft or roster?' I'm a defensive coordinator and I said, 'You know, I really don't know.' And that's how good the relationship was and that's how unselfish the relationship was that even people in the organization didn't know. I'd like to be able to see those same kinds of things here."