Lions coach Jim Schwartz talks Belichick, Thursday games


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FOXBOROUGH — This has been a challenging season for the 2-8 Detroit Lions and coach Jim Schwartz is doing what he can to lead his team out of the spiral.

Schwartz is in his second season in Detroit and as he tries to create a winning tradition with the Lions, he said he can draw on some of his experiences with Bill Belichick years ago. Schwartz was a college and pro scout on Belichick’s staff with the Cleveland Browns from 1993-95.

On a conference call with the New England media moments ago, Schwartz said that he owes quite a bit to Belichick.

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“I probably owe my entire NFL career to Bill Belichick,” he said. “He gave me a start when I was very young and very inexperienced but willing to work 18 hours a day for not very much money. It gave me a chance to learn from Bill and the way he prepared his teams and the way he ran the whole structure of the club from the way they traveled, to the way they practiced, to preparation, to the way he handled the coaches, to the draft, to free agency. Every single thing was important to Bill Belichick and I learned that at a very important age.

“I also learned how to deal with adversity. We had ups and downs at Cleveland. We had a very successful season in ’94 but a very disappointing season in ’95. He had to steer that team through an announced move to Baltimore, a very difficult situation. Steered the team through the changing of quarterback from Bernie Kosar, a local icon. Bill never lost faith in his ability and his vision for what the team was going to be. I owe a lot of that perseverance in my career to Bill Belichick.

“I’ve tried to take a little bit from every coach that I’ve been around. I’ve been very fortunate, Bill Belichick, Marvin Lewis, 10 years with Jeff Fisher down in Nashville, all three excellent coaches but being around Bill Belichick at the beginning of my career, getting that opportunity not only to work for him but learn to learn from him has probably guided my career the most along the way.”

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As for Thursday’s match up against the Patriots, Schwartz said he is hoping this will be a chance for his team to get back on track. The short schedule may be unique but playing on a Thursday is not.
“…It seems as though it is becoming more and more common. There’s going to be three games this Thanksgiving, so it’s not as rare for other teams. This has been a tradition that has been a long time standing in Detroit and there’s been some memorable days. There’s been a lot of magic involved with Thanksgiving. We need to pick that back up from a tradition standpoint and make it very difficult on opponents that come here to play on Thanksgiving. I think we’re on the right path there but we need to get back on the winning track and Thanksgiving is a great day to do it.”