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Lions' Coach Frustrated With Team of 'Castoffs'

Dec 17, 2009 – 10:10 PM
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Chris Burke

Chris Burke %BloggerTitle%

Jim SchwartzBy just about all accounts, the future looks brighter for the Lions in 2009 than it did in 2008. Detroit's got two wins compared to the zero it had last year, has a developing star quarterback, one of the better receivers in the NFL and a young coach that is respected throughout the NFL.

But that young coach, Jim Schwartz, is probably getting older by the day. After Detroit's embarrassing 48-3 loss in Baltimore last Sunday, Schwartz went on a verbal rampage, promising that underachieving players would be cut in the offseason. Later in the week, a little calmer, he offered a pretty direct assessment for why the Lions are 2-11.

"There is a significant portion of our roster that's on our roster because they were castoffs from other teams," Schwartz said. "There were teams that didn't want them or let them go, or stuff like that, and we need to make sure, or the players need to make sure, that they're not in the same position this year with us.

Let's just take another look at that comment -- a "significant portion" of Detroit roster is made up of players that were available because "there were teams that didn't want them or let them go."

A ringing endorsement of his players, that is not.

"Every one of our moves is going to be from the standpoint of evaluating what talent we have and whether we can improve by going somewhere else and that's always the bottom line," Schwartz said. "We don't do things just to make a point and that's where we'll go forward."

You have to figure that Schwartz knew what he was getting into as a rookie head coach -- Detroit has won exactly one playoff game in the Super Bowl-era. Heck, the Lions haven't even made the playoffs since 1999, nor finished above .500 since 2000. And even if things are improving, slowly, there is still a ton of work to be done in the Motor City before this team is competitive.

As Eric Edholm of Pro Football Weekly points out via Yahoo, there is just one Lion on the current roster drafted by the franchise between 2002-06 (Ernie Sims). Considering Detroit often picked in the very upper reaches of the draft during those years, that's a mind-boggling stat -- it's also another hearty punch to the gut of Matt Millen's tenure.

It hasn't taken Schwartz long, apparently, to realize just how daunting his task is. NFL teams generally don't win by constantly picking up other teams' scraps. The Lions' reclamation project will have to rely heavily on the draft -- they finally had a good one last year.

But unless Tennessee accidentally releases Chris Johnson or Indianapolis mistakenly puts Peyton Manning on waivers, just nabbing tossed-out junk probably won't get it done.
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