Craig Remsburg column: Lions must hire right head coach

Detroit Lions fans got a post-Christmas present when the club fired beleaguered head coach Jim Schwartz and two of his assistants.

The decision was a no-brainer.

After leading the Lions to the playoffs in 2011, Schwartz failed miserably the last two seasons. He went 4-12 in 2012, then saw the Lions lose six of their last seven games this season to finish 7-9.

The Detroit players must take some responsibility for the team’s collapse the past two campaigns, of course. Many failed to play to their potential and were often undisciplined in their play.

There was far too much talent there for the Lions to go 11-21 the last two seasons.

Whether it was the failure of Schwartz and his staff to adequately prepare the club for games or their game strategies were bad – or both – Schwartz and Co. had to go.

As for being undisciplined, Schwartz always seemed to coach on the edge. His players reflected his personality.

Stupid penalties – especially personal fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct infractions – were way too common for the team.

Firing Schwartz was the easy part. Now the Lions must hire a coach who will take the team to the next level and make it at a playoff contender, at the very least.

That’s where it gets sticky. The Lions’ track record for hiring a good coach has been horrible for a couple of decades. Steve Mariucci might have been the best hire, but he just wasn’t the right person for the team he inherited.

Lovie Smith would have been a good hire this time around, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers snatched him up.

Penn State’s Bill O’Brien is no longer available, having been gobbled up by the Houston Texans.

Former Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt, now the offensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers, has been mentioned as a possible hire for the Lions.

So have Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell; Seattle Seahawks assistant coach Tom Cable; Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer; and San Francisco OC Greg Roman.

Lions president Tom Lewand appears to be taking his time in replacing Schwartz. If the time spent results in a good coaching fit for the Lions, it’ll be worth the wait.

The next few days – or the next week or two – should be interesting in the Lions’ search for the right head coach.

The team must make a good choice. To do otherwise would mean more years of mediocrity.

Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is .