Lions head coach Schwartz safe for now

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Black Monday hit hard around the NFL with teams firing head coaches and general managers, but apparently not the 4-12 Detroit Lions.

Althought coach Jim Schwartz wouldn’t confirm that he has been told he’s returning for 2013, he sounded and acted as if that must be the plan.

Schwartz called it “business as usual” around the Lions’ practice facility during his final news conference of the season.

“We’re on our normal end-of-season wrap-up,” Schwartz said when asked whether he’s met with the Ford family, which owns the club. “They’re heavily involved in that.”

Later in the day, reports surfaced that assistant coaches Shawn Jefferson (receivers), Sam Gash (running backs) and George Yarno (offensive line) won’t be returning.

There was no indication that any of the coordinators — Scott Linehan (offense), Gunther Cunningham (defense) or Danny Crossman (special teams) — are going to be replaced.

“We have some coaches under contract, other guys whose contracts are up,” Schwartz said. “We worked very hard to keep our staff together last year. Don’t know if we’ll be able to do the same thing.”

Althought Schwartz and general manager Martin Mayhew might be safe for another year, there’s bound to be a much different look entering training camp next August, and not only with the offensive position coaches.

The Lions brought back 21 of 22 starters off of the 10-6 team of 2011, but this time they finished on an eight-game losing streak.

With 24 unrestricted free agents, the roster is bound to have much more turnover before next season.

“There’s going to be a different dynamic this offseason than last,” Schwartz said. “There’s going to be changes. We’re not coming off a 10-6 season. We’re not trying to do our best to hold that team together.

“We’re coming off a 4-12 season. We’re not just going to be able to stay on the same course. Our philosophies won’t change. The execution of those philosophies may change a little bit.”
 
EXTRA POINTS

• Schwartz didn’t rule out the possible return of receiver Titus Young, who didn’t play the final six weeks for disciplinary reasons.

“He’s still on our roster,” Schwartz said. “There is still a window there. He’s a very talented player who made a difference when he was on the field. It affected the team not having him out there.”

• Schwartz’s message to players to try to avoid what happened during the last offseason when there were seven arrests: “When people prove that they can’t make good decisions, then, as an organization, we need to prepare to be able to go without them.”

• Offensive tackle Jeff Backus, who just completed his 12th season, wasn’t available Sunday or Monday to discuss his plans for the future.

“He hasn’t said anything yet about what he’s going to do,” teammate Rob Sims said. “I hope he plays. I’m going to call him every day.”

• Schwartz, on his biggest regret personally from this season: “Throwing that challenge flag (which ended up giving Houston a touchdown).”

Schwartz added, “I wish I had that crew yesterday,” a reference to the officials in the Green Bay-Minnesota game Sunday who ignored a similar situation involving Packers coach Mike McCarthy.

• Schwartz on the future of running back Jahvid Best, who hasn’t been cleared for contact since suffering a concussion in October 2011: “That’s out of my hands as a coach. I can’t have expectations. That’s up to the doctors, and that’s up to Jahvid.”