Found July 02, 2012 on Fox Sports Detroit:
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In one sense, it seems a little odd to be giving Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz a multi-year contract extension at a time when the discipline of his team is being so seriously questioned. After all, the Lions lead the league in off-season arrests with six. They weren't exactly the most disciplined group on the field last season either. But the confirmation that Schwartz has agreed to a deal beyond the 2012 season was completely logical and totally deserved. Schwartz inherited a slapstick team that went 0-16 the year before he arrived. He has improved that mark every year, from 2-14 in his first season in 2009 to 6-10 in 2010 and then a breakthrough 10-6, playoff season last year. Its one of the best three-year turnarounds by a franchise in NFL history, and Schwartz deserves much of the credit for it. I think weve done good work here, Schwartz said during the Lions mini-camp last month. I think Ill leave it at that. The Lions certainly didnt want to enter this season with a coach in the final year of his contract. Based on Schwartzs record, you had to assume his deal would be extended, but the longer it went on, the more it made people wonder. Schwartz wouldnt talk about it. Next time I comment on my contract will be the first time, he said a few weeks ago. The Lions followed his lead and also wouldnt discuss the state of negotiations with their coach. So, naturally, some started to question whether there might be an unexpected hang-up in talks. Maybe Schwartz didnt want to be in Detroit long term. Maybe he wanted to parlay his success here into a job somewhere else. He certainly would have been attractive to other clubs as a free agent after this coming season, barring a collapse by the Lions. But no more of those worries. Schwartz is locked up for the foreseeable future although neither side would reveal the exact terms. Still, for his own reputation, along with that of the team and entire organization, Schwartz has to find a way to get through to his players about these off-the-field issues. You can say its only a few young guys getting in trouble, but this has happened frequently enough lately that a bad message is being sent throughout the league, creating unnecessary distractions. The Lions are a previously downtrodden franchise currently on the rise. Fans around the country should be embracing them, but its just the opposite. This team is actually widely despised because of actions such as Ndamukong Suh stomping on an opposing player, Schwartzs handshake controversy with San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh, Titus Young sucker-punching a teammate and all of these arrests. The Lions are perceived, fairly or not, as a renegade club. Its Schwartzs job to correct that problem. He doesnt want to take their aggressive edge from them, but he needs to find a way to get it all under control. The club really can't afford to release a player who can contribute on the field such as Mikel Leshoure, Nick Fairley or Aaron Berry all of whom have been arrested in recent months but at some point a stronger message has to be sent. Someone will have to pay the price. It cant go on any longer. The coach with a new contract is going to have a tough decision to make having to set an example at someones expense. Schwartz doesnt want to do it, but he and the front office have just about reached a point where a harsh statement needs to be delivered for the long-term good of the coach, team and organization.
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