Schwartz hopes Lions can stay the course

BY foxsports • February 10, 2011

Feb. 10, 2011

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- After losing 24
of his first 28 games as Detroit's coach, Jim Schwartz remained as
upbeat as possible.

Finally, his patience was rewarded when the Lions won four straight games to finish last season.

In those four short weeks, Detroit began
repairing the perception of a franchise that went winless in 2008, the
year before Schwartz was brought in. Now the Lions have young standouts
Calvin Johnson and Ndamukong Suh, players that will try to lead this
team back to respectability after an atrocious decade.

"We were the only team in the history of
the National Football League to go 0-16. To be at the point now where
we were competitive in every game ... We need to stay on that track. We
don't need to change course," Schwartz said. "My perception, sort of
going back, looking at the Lions from the outside in, was the Lions
would always change courses and overreact."

Schwartz spoke Thursday as a guest at a
Michigan AP Sports Editors meeting. He avoided discussing too many
controversial topics, such as the collective bargaining negotiations,
but he did spend some time looking back at an encouraging finish to the
season.

Detroit was 2-10 before beating eventual
champion Green Bay to start a season-ending upswing. The Lions also won
at Tampa Bay to snap a 26-game road losing streak, then followed that
up with a comeback victory at Miami.

"We were 10 points down with four
minutes to go at Miami and beat them by seven. That's like a magic
trick. That's tough to do," Schwartz said. "If you looked at us over the
course of the season, I don't know if there were very many times the
same thing got us more than once. We learned from some situations, and
we hadn't been in a lot of those situations before."

Even in its defeats, Detroit was
competitive despite injuries to quarterback Matthew Stafford. The Lions
led the New York Jets by 10 points late in regulation but ended up
losing in overtime in early November.

This could be a quiet offseason for the
Lions even if there's no lockout -- they're finally at a point where
they don't necessarily need to overhaul the roster.

"You need to be able to distinguish
between when you're close and you're making progress and you're doing
the right things, and when you're all screwed up," Schwartz said. "I
tended to look at 2-10 as -- we were really close and we were making
progress."

Schwartz provided a brief update on
Stafford, who had surgery on his throwing shoulder last month after
making only three starts last season -- two of which he didn't finish.
True to form, Schwartz didn't give many details, but the Lions have said
they expect the former No. 1 draft pick to be back in time for training
camp.

"In a nutshell, Matt's doing fine,"
Schwartz said. "Whether he didn't have surgery or he did, we were still
on the same timetable. ... I don't want to say he's on track because in
the offseason, there's no real track, it's more just getting back."

Schwartz did take some time to explain
why he doesn't like to speak definitively about injuries. He recalled
one season when he was on Jeff Fisher's staff with the Tennessee Titans,
and Jevon Kearse was hurt. Schwartz said Fisher was forthcoming about
Kearse's injury, saying he'd be out four to six weeks.

But Kearse didn't heal as quickly as expected and came under criticism as a result.

"Jevon was trying his very best to come
back," Schwartz said. "Jeff learned, and at that point, when he talked
about it, he said, 'I'm never, ever going to put a timetable on
somebody's return, because I screwed the kid.'"


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