Bring it on, says the Detroit Lions' new coach.
Jim Schwartz was introduced as the new head coach of the Detroit Lions Friday at Ford Field.
"There's no better feeling in football than turning a situation around. That's what drives me here," the 42-year-old former Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator said during his introductory news conference Friday at Ford Field.
The Lions badly want the one-time Georgetown University economics major to come up with a formula to fix a franchise coming off an 0-16 season, an eight-season stretch that has been the worst in the league since World War II and a run of more than 50 years with only one playoff win.
While Detroit's football future is far from certain, Schwartz told reporters they can count on at least one thing.
"We'll put a team on the field that you'll be proud of," he said a day after agreeing to a four-year contract worth about $11 million.
The son of a police officer and one of nine kids, Schwartz said he was a blue-collar guy who will fit in well with the culture of Detroit.
"This is what I am," he said, joking that he was wearing one of the two suits he owns.
Friday's coming-out party for Schwartz was the culmination of years of hard work in the NFL.
He began as a scout in Cleveland, moving on as an assistant in Baltimore, then became one of the league's best defensive coordinators in Tennessee.
Schwartz singled out New England coach Bill Belichick and Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher as mentors. He replaces Rod Marinelli, who was fired two weeks ago after he went 10-38 in three seasons, dropping Detroit to 31-97 since 2001 when former team president Matt Millen took over a mediocre franchise and turned it into a laughingstock.
The Chicago Cardinals, who won just 23 percent of their games from 1936-43, are the last team to perform as poorly as Detroit has over an eight-season stretch.
Detroit will count on Schwartz to use his background to come up with ways to improve a defense that ranked last in the league and gave up 517 points -- threatening the NFL record for points allowed (533) in a season set by the 1981 Baltimore Colts.
Schwartz started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Maryland in 1989, later had the same position at Minnesota and went on to become a secondary coach for North Carolina Central and linebackers coach at Colgate.
The Baltimore native became a head coaching candidate because of his work in Tennessee, leading to interviews in previous years with Miami, Atlanta, Washington and San Francisco.
His 2003 defense ranked first in the NFL in rushing defense and led the league in third down defense at 27.7 percent -- the lowest since the 1998 Oakland Raiders. The Titans ranked in the top seven in yards allowed each of the past two seasons and finished second in points allowed per game at 14.6 in 2008.