The Detroit Lions are 2-10 this season and have lost 24 of 28 games since the start of coach Jim Schwartz's tenure. So it's only fair to raise an eyebrow at some of the over-the-top confidence Schwartz has expressed in a number of interviews this week.
Speaking Monday to reporters in Detroit, Schwartz acknowledged that "our record is not good enough" but insisted "there are great things ahead for this team."
He added: "We've had some situations come up that we haven't done a good job of dealing with. It is not taking away from where this team is going to be and the things that we're going to do. We're going to do great things. There's no question in any of our minds exactly what this is going to be."
Then, during a weekly radio appearance on WXYT (97.1) radio, Schwartz said he was "surprised" that his words "raised some eyebrows."
One of the hosts replied that the word "great" hasn't often been used in connection with the Lions in recent years.
"Well," Schwartz said, "get used to it. Because there is going to be great things that come from this football team."
Finally, Schwartz noted that one of the Lions' biggest problems in recent years has been that "as a franchise we've changed courses way too much, for over-reactionary reasons. Our job is to play a little bit better, to make a little bit more progress, a little bit more plays in the game -- not to all of the sudden say, 'Well, that didn't work, let's try something else.'"
A cynic could take the sum of those statements -- that a breakthrough is coming and the worst thing that could happen is to make changes now -- as a public plea to keep his job. But there is no indication that Schwartz's job is remotely in jeopardy, nor should it be. Any coach taking over an 0-16 outfit deserves at least three years to straighten it out.
So what is Schwartz up to? I wonder if he isn't trying to hold his own ship together through what has been an emotional and supremely frustrating season. In the span of about three months, the Lions have:
Twice lost their franchise quarterback to a significant shoulder injury.
Been on the short end of a number of nationally-discussed officiating calls, enough that people around the league are noticing. Tuesday, in fact, Minnesota Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe tweeted: "Lions get the short end of the stick alot.. i wonder whats really going on. Happens [too] much."
Been within five points of their opponents in the fourth quarter of all 10 losses.
A few fractures emerged after the 45-24 Thanksgiving Day loss to the New England Patriots. So while I don't think Schwartz is lobbying to save his job, I do think he might be trying to maintain support for his program and its direction within the locker room.
A 2-10 season naturally brings about skepticism and frustration. So it seems like Schwartz is doing his best to cull the positives out of the year -- and I think we all can agree the team is better than it was in 2009 and in 2008 -- as building blocks for 2011.
That's my thought. I would welcome yours.