ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- When Jim Schwartz steps on the field to coach the Detroit Lions on Sunday afternoon, he’ll see a familiar face across the sideline. And someone who has no problem calling him “Jimmy.”
His close friend and former boss, Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis.
Lewis, then in his first job as a defensive coordinator in 1996 with Baltimore, hired Schwartz from the scouting department to make him a defensive assistant and quality control coach with the Ravens.
“The quality control guy is sort of the right hand man of the coordinator,” Schwartz said. “So I got a chance to learn every bit of the defense. Probably the biggest thing I learned was Marvin’s consistency.
“Not a guy that gets high, not a guy that gets low. He’s got a work ethic that is sort of part of that process. It’s a little bit different than some of the other coaches I’ve been around but I think you’re seeing the results with the Bengals.”
On Wednesday, Lewis credited a lot of his success and the people around him to Schwartz, who worked for him from 1996 to 1998. And Lewis said it was a recommendation from Ozzie Newsome to interview Schwartz.
He did, and then ended up hiring him.
“Everywhere around me, I owe it to Jimmy,” Lewis said. “He’s a good man, good coach and I recognized that right away.”
Lewis said he also recommended Schwartz to then-Tennessee head coach Jeff Fisher and then-defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. The Titans hired him, setting up his path to eventually become the coach of the Lions, working his way up from a defensive assistant to eventually a defensive coordinator in Tennessee.
“He was bright,” Lewis said. “His work ethic. He understood football. He understood the ability to communicate with the players. He was (a) good on the field coach, was a good off the field coach, was a good tactical coach. He was a detailed coach.
“He had it all. Very, very successful.”
Successful enough to land an NFL head coaching job. Now the two families are close and Lewis and Schwartz will sometimes see each other in the summer.
Sunday, though, they won’t care about that.
“Nobody is a friend on Sunday,” Schwartz said. “You know the way that goes. He’s a good football coach, he’s got a great family. My wife and I and our kids know their family real well.
“But none of that matters when you get to Sunday. He’s done a nice job with the Bengals, though. They’ve been real consistent over time. Marvin’s a real steady guy and I think you see that reflected in their team.”