When the Detroit Lions fell to 7-8 with their third straight loss Sunday, Coach Jim Schwartz took out his frustration on fans — and vaulted to the top of the list of NFL coaches who are likely to be fired when the regular season ends next Sunday.
The list of coaches on the hot seat includes a number whose teams were under a “playoffs-or-bust” directive: Tennessee’s Mike Munchak, Minnesota’s Leslie Frazier, the New York Jets’ Rex Ryan, Tampa Bay’s Greg Schiano, Dallas’ Jason Garrett, Oakland’s Dennis Allen and Washington’s Mike Shanahan. Gary Kubiak of the Houston Texans was fired earlier this month.
Schwartz’s meltdown as boos rained down in the overtime loss to the New York Giants epitomized the pressure of being on the hot seat — and of underperforming with a wealth of talent. He appeared to yell at fans, although he denied that afterward.
“I was disappointed to hear boos. We’re getting ready to go to overtime right there and our crowd is great for us and they support us,” Schwartz said. “The team needed a lift right there. We didn’t need to feel bad at that point. We just intercepted a ball that got us to overtime. I thought that I was just trying to get our team ready.
“That’s tough, the situations when your players are getting booed and you want them fired up. That’s what I was trying to do right there.”
As the game headed to overtime, Schwartz, whose tenure has been marked by emotional outbursts and a lack of team discipline, was seen yelling at someone. Although he didn’t reveal the target of his wrath, video appeared to show him yelling, “What the [expletive] are you booing?”
“At that point, we’re taking a knee and after we didn’t get the yards, we just let the clock run out and we didn’t get the first down,” said Schwartz, who is 29-50 as the Lions’ coach. “We were trying to gather the troops and trying to get ready for overtime. It wasn’t like we were running another play in that situation. We were getting ready to go into overtime and our fans have been great for us, but we needed them on our side in overtime.”