At this time a year ago, with the Detroit Lions on their way to a disappointing 4-12 season, there was a lot of talk about the status of head coach Jim Schwartz. He finished 2012 on the hot seat, but since he just got a contract extension the summer before, the Lions opted to bring him back for 2013.
Fast forward to now and Schwartz is back on the hot seat despite the fact that the Lions are currently in first place in the NFC North. A 6-3 start to 2013 has turned into a 7-6 record with three weeks to go, and now there are big question marks surrounding the idea of a sixth season in Detroit for Schwartz and this coaching staff.
When Schwartz was on the hot seat last year, I went back to 1990 and looked at the records of head coaches who managed to make it to year No. 5 of their tenure. I found that only David Shula had a worse record than Schwartz and actually saw a fifth season, and he was fired after starting his fifth season 1-6.
The Lions ended up keeping Schwartz in place for 2013, but it remains to be seen if he will actually make it to a sixth season as head coach. How does he stack up with the head coaches since 1990 who did last at least six years? It's not pretty for Schwartz, to say the least:
|Coach||Team||First 5 years||Wins in first 5||Losses/ties in first 5||Super Bowls in first 5
||Titles in first 5
||Playoffs in first 5||What happened after first 5 seasons?|
|Jim Schwartz||Lions||2009-2013||29||48||0||0||1||To be determined|
|Norv Turner||Redskins||1994-1998||32||48||0||0||0||Fired in 2000 (17-12 after)|
|Dave Wannstedt||Bears||1993-1997||36||44||0||0||1||Fired after 1998 (4-12 after)|
|Dan Reeves||Falcons||1997-2001||37||43||1||0||1||Fired in 2003 (12-17 after)|
|Gary Kubiak||Texans||2006-2010||37||43||0||0||0||Fired in 2013 (24-21 after)|
|Jon Gruden||Buccaneers||2002-2006||39||41||1||1||2||Fired after 2008 (18-14 after)|
|Ken Whisenhunt||Cardinals||2007-2011||40||40||1||0||2||Fired after 2012 (5-11 after)|
|Mike Holmgren||Seahawks||1999-2003||41||39||0||0||2||Retired after 2008 (45-35 after)|
|Marvin Lewis||Bengals||2003-2007||42||38||0||0||1||Still head coach (46-46-1 since)|
|Jim Haslett||Saints||2000-2004||42||38||0||0||1||Fired after 2005 (3-13 after)|
|John Fox||Panthers||2002-2006||44||36||1||0||2||Contract not renewed after 2010 (29-35 after)|
|Jim Fassel||Giants||1997-2001||44||36||1||0||2||Fired after 2003 (14-18 after)|
|Jeff Fisher||Oilers/Titans||1995-1999||44||36||1||0||1||Fired after 2010 (97-79 after)|
|Tony Dungy||Buccaneers||1996-2000||45||35||0||0||3||Fired after 2001 (9-7 after)|
|Jack Del Rio||Jaguars||2003-2007||45||35||0||0||2||Fired in 2011 (23-36 after)|
|Lovie Smith||Bears||2004-2008||45||35||1||0||2||Fired after 2012 (36-28 after)|
|Brian Billick||Ravens||1999-2003||47||33||1||1||3||Fired after 2007 (33-31 after)|
|Dennis Green||Vikings||1992-1996||47||33||0||0||4||Fired in 2001 (50-29 after)|
|Tom Coughlin||Giants||2004-2008||47||33||1||1||4||Still head coach (41-36 since)|
|Steve Mariucci||49ers||1997-2001||47||33||0||0||3||Fired after 2002 (10-6 after)|
|Mike McCarthy||Packers||2006-2010||48||32||1||1||3||Still head coach (32-12-1 since)|
|Tom Coughlin||Jaguars||1995-1999||49||31||0||0||4||Fired after 2002 (19-29 after)|
|Sean Payton||Saints||2006-2010||49||31||1||1||3||Still head coach (21-5 since)|
|Norv Turner||Chargers||2007-2011||49||31||0||0||3||Fired after 2012 (7-9 after)|
|Mike Holmgren||Packers||1992-1996||51||29||1||1||4||Resigned after 1998 (24-8 after)|
|Andy Reid||Eagles||1999-2003||51||29||0||0||4||Fired after 2012 (79-64-1 after)|
|Mike Martz||Rams||2000-2004||51||29||1||0||4||Fired after 2005 (2-3 after)|
|Mike Shanahan||Broncos||1995-1999||53||27||2||2||3||Fired after 2008 (85-59 after)|
|Mike Sherman||Packers||2000-2004||53||27||0||0||4||Fired after 2005 (4-12 after)|
|Bill Belichick||Patriots||2000-2004||53||27||3||3||3||Still head coach (108-33 since)|
|Bill Cowher||Steelers||1992-1996||53||27||1||0||5||Retired after 2006 (96-63-1 after)|
|John Harbaugh||Ravens||2008-2012||54||26||1||1||5||Still head coach (7-6 since)|
|Mike Tomlin||Steelers||2007-2011||55||25||2||1||4||Still head coach (13-16 since)|
|Mike Smith||Falcons||2008-2012||56||24||0||0||4||Still head coach (3-10 since)|
|Tony Dungy||Colts||2002-2006||60||20||1||1||5||Retired after 2008 (25-7 after)|
(Note: Only coaches who were hired in 1990 or later were considered.)
Even if the Lions win out, Schwartz will only be able to match Norv Turner for the fewest wins of any head coach since 1990 who made it to a sixth season. In Turner's case, he went 32-47-1 in his first five seasons and somehow wasn't fired despite not having a single playoff appearance with the Washington Redskins. He did take the Redskins to the playoffs in his sixth season thanks to a 10-6 record, but Washington canned him midway through his seventh season despite the Redskins being 7-6 at the time.
It's worth noting that every situation is different, as evidenced by the fact that Schwartz is the only coach on the above list who took over a 0-16 team. It's also worth noting that injuries to Matthew Stafford played a role in Schwartz having an 8-24 record in his first two seasons in Detroit. Of course, it's also worth noting that Schwartz's record is only 21-24 since then. Considering the Lions went to the playoffs in 2011 and are in first place right now, things have generally been better in the last few years, even with last year's 4-12 season factored in, but his record still hasn't been great.
Essentially, the conclusion to this study is the same as last year's. If the Lions decide to bring back Schwartz, it will be an exercise of patience given his record. Simply based on what's happened since 1990, it was surprising that Schwartz was even brought back for a fifth season. Unless the Lions put together a strong finish to the 2013 campaign by winning the division and making a run in the playoffs, a sixth season for Schwartz would be even more of a surprise based simply on the last couple decades in the NFL.