Schwartz: 'I'm emotionally involved in the game'
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- His job is probably on the line this year. His team was coming off a loss the previous week and trying to end a 0-21 drought in Washington.
So when a Hail Mary pass fell incomplete on the game’s final play, Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz reacted with a little attitude. A fist pump was immediately followed by Schwartz spiking his headset to the ground.
The Lions had won, 27-20, and the coach wasn’t concerned about holding any emotion inside. He let it all out, which wasn’t surprising. It’s not the first time he’s done it.
“I’m surprised at what gets attention on the sideline,” Schwartz said, knowing that his reaction had become a topic of discussion. “If I stand there like this (arms folded, looking grim), I probably get criticized for being too detached and not being emotionally involved in the game.
“Guess what? I’m emotionally involved in the game. This is a tough game. It’s hard to win in the National Football League.”
The Lions had to work through some obstacles during the game, including being unable at times to analyze photos of previous plays because of a mechanical failure. Those photos are important for coaches and players trying to make adjustments on the fly.
“There were a lot of things that came up in that game,” Schwartz said. “We well-documented the issues we had with the printers. It wasn’t just offense. It was offense and defense, special teams.
“We had injuries in the game. There were a lot of things that we needed to persevere through. It was the end of a tough week. It was a tough road win.”
And so he showed that emotion.
“Honestly,” Schwartz said, “I don’t make any apologies.”
He shouldn’t have to.
It’s a game of emotions for everyone -- coaches, players and fans.
The Lions take a 2-1 record into Sunday’s early-season showdown at Ford Field for first place in the NFC North Division against the undefeated Chicago Bears.
Chicago leads the division at 3-0, followed by Detroit, Green Bay (1-2) and Minnesota (0-3).
“It’s too early in the season to be thinking about stuff like that,” Schwartz said. “You can’t worry about standings this time of year. All you got to worry about is improving, correcting your mistakes, finding out what you’re good at, those kind of things, and continuing to progress.”
Schwartz pointed out that Washington and Minnesota overcame slow starts last year to make the playoffs with strong finishes.
“It’s not always about how you start,” he said. “You can certainly help yourself with a good start, but there’s plenty of time to worry about standings and who’s in first place.”
Still, this is only the fourth time in the last 13 years that Detroit has won at least two of its first three games.
Winning division games, regardless of if it’s early or late, can be decisive if playoff bids come down to a tiebreaker.
“NFC North games mean an awful lot,” Schwartz acknowledged after initially downplaying the added importance of Sunday’s game. “It’s a chance for you to put a loss on one of your (division) opponents without having somebody else have to help you do it.”
Sure, it’s only Week 4, but this could be one of those games where you toss two headsets to the ground, not one, when it’s over.
Schwartz confirmed that he made the call on making running back Reggie Bush (knee) inactive for the Washington game.
There were apparently concerns about how effective Bush would be under the circumstances and whether he could finish the game.
“We’re going to make the decision, the 46 (active players) that give us the best chance to win that game,” Schwartz said. “That was the decision that I made. That’s all that needs to be said.
“Reggie had worked extremely hard to get ready for that game. But when you’re a running back, you can’t control hits. I appreciate how hard he worked, but we needed to go a different direction in this game.”
Asked whether he expects Bush back in the lineup for Chicago, Schwartz said, “We’ll see.”
• Schwartz, on losing defensive lineman Jason Jones to a season-ending knee injury:
“We’re going to lean on (fourth-round draft pick) Devin Taylor there. A lot of the same things we liked about Jason, we like in Devin. He played well at times in the preseason, but he needs to grow up quickly. It’s no different than anybody else. Being a young player in the league, you’ve got to perform.”
• Schwartz singled out the performances by offensive tackles Riley Reiff and Corey Hilliard.
“One thing that went a little under the radar was the job that Riley Reiff and Corey Hilliard did on their two outside pass rushers (Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo),” Schwartz said. “We took one sack in the game. That was on the first play (on) an inside blitz from the (middle) linebacker.
“Riley played an outstanding game and so did Corey. They had to do it against two big-game players that had given every team they played trouble. That had a lot to do with our ability to find (Nate) Burleson down the field, to find Calvin Johnson, to find Kris Durham. A lot of those big plays were made because we were able to have just enough time to find those guys.”
• To replace Jones on the 53-man roster, the Lions re-signed defensive tackle Andre Fluellen. It’s the third time they’ve signed Fluellen in just over a year.