Given Jim Schwartz's current contract, it's not expected that the Detroit Lions will make a head coaching change after this dismal season comes to a close. That doesn't mean other changes won't be made, though. If Schwartz does in fact return, there will be even more pressure for some coordinators and assistants to be replaced, and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan is probably the headliner of that group.
Although the Lions offense has produced a record year for Calvin Johnson, overall it has been pretty ineffective. Matthew Stafford has seemingly taken a step back in his development, and the Lions have failed to produce touchdowns on a consistent basis. Having to settle for field goals on a regular basis has cost the Lions at least a few games this season, and fair or not, the blame has been placed on Linehan for that.
There hadn't really been any rumblings of impending changes by the Lions, but CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora wrote on Monday that Linehan is on the list of coordinators who are "likely to get pink slips." What's more, La Canfora already has a possible replacement in mind: Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur, who is expected to be fired at the conclusion of the season.
Stafford's ability alone is enough to attract top candidates and when Browns head coach Pat Shurmur is let go by the Browns, league sources would not be surprised to see him get consideration in Detroit (Shurmur is a Detroit native and worked well with another former No. 1 draft pick, Sam Bradford, in St. Louis).
Shurmur, who attended Michigan State, would almost certainly get consideration by the Lions if the Browns fire him and Linehan is let go. To me, the bigger question revolves around whether the Lions will actually make a change. I'm of the opinion that it's time for some new voices on the coaching staff if Schwartz is retained, and Linehan does seem to be the top candidate to be let go. It's not fair to put all of the blame for the offense's struggles on him by any means, but ultimately it goes back to him.
I'm still not entirely convinced that the Lions will make a change. If it's up to Schwartz, I'd bet on the coaching staff remaining unchanged for the most part. Continuity has been talked about as a big plus in the past, but after going 4-12 or 5-11, perhaps the front office will step in and decide something needs to change going into 2013.