He took an extremely terrible team from nothing to competitive, quickly. For years, I watched the Lions struggle to be anything close to a winning team. This changed under him. The 2009 team was simply terrible because they really didn’t have the talent to succeed. The second half of 2010 was eye opening. Staff was gone but this team really played. They moved from "woeful" to something that had to be accounted for and then came 2011. They were like the cardiac Cards, pulling games out at the end when they really had no hope. This, of course, fell over because there wasn’t anything left in the cupboards after injuries took their toll.
This is where our rookie head coach goes into the tank. Big Jim is an excellent X and O guy but he didn’t have the experience in molding the players to his scheme or maybe molding players, period.
He simply didn’t address any of Staff’s issues. Basically, he told him and the press that Staff was fine. He was a gunslinger like Favre and all the bumps were part of the learning curve. Mistakes and behavior of all the units were simply not addressed or he certainly didn’t know how to address them.
I really think, his early success hurt him. It kept him from seeing his deficits and how it would affect his team.
Let’s face it. The guy was an arrogant asshole but for the first time in years, he managed to put a truly competitive team on the field. The Lions, under Schwartz, were right there in the fourth quarter but could not put the game away. I think, simply, because he had yet to learn how to make a team cohere and how to get the most out of what he had.
Watching Caldwell after Schwartz has been a kind of revelation. He seems to be constantly teaching. Not only about the X and O’s but about the responsibilities that individuals have to the team. I really can’t say what this portents but it seems to me to be a step forward and a step that Jim Schwartz was not ready to take.