Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
Upon pondering last week's Have at It question, there wasn't much doubt from our Black and Blue readership: Detroit coach Jim Schwartz has a more difficult task ahead of him than Ken Whisenhunt did, who took a similarly cursed franchise to the Super Bowl in his second season as Arizona's coach.
Most of you agreed with Napaguy, who wrote the Lions' personnel pales in comparison with what Whisenhunt inherited in Arizona:
It is obviously a worse situation in Detroit. They have little to no talent. The whiz kid really only brought attitude and heart to the team. I mean most of the major pieces were there when he arrived (Fitz, Boldin, Warner, Dockett, Dansby, Wilson, Levi Brown, etc.) that's all Whisenhunt had to do was get these guys in gear, which a former NF North coach couldn't do. I mean basically these are Denny Green's players and Whisenhunt's taken to the next level. Schwartz has no talent besides Calvin Johnson and that's not fair for him, unless the gm helps him greatly he will be gone in 3 years.
Schwartz does have a few advantages, wrote Nyimpartial:
Arizona was the better situation, but only from a roster point of view. Arizona, like Detroit now, still had the losing culture, but unlike Detroit, it also had a much weaker (less established) fan base and ownership hadn't shown commitment. (Not that the Ford family has done better, but at least they've demonstrated loyalty to the staff.) Because of the roster potential, you know that Arizona had high expectations (and likely a shorter time to be successful). Right now, expectations for the Lions can't get any lower, so anything the team does next season will be considered a success.
Booneshinn is a bit more optimistic about the Lions' existing personnel:
I think that [Whisenhunt] inherited a better situation...but I don't believe that Schwartz has inherited a terrible situation. The Lions were not an 0-16 team this season (probably more like 4-12). They have a decent caretaker at QB (Orlovsky, not mentioned above) to mind the store while they upgrade other key areas with a load of high draft picks. Schwartz has made great hires and is rid of Matt Millen and his awful "gut" feelings regarding draft picks. The Lions won't be in the SB in two years...but they'll be in the playoffs within three.
My take? I don't think you can make a comparison between the talent Whisenhunt inherited and the roster Schwartz is currently evaluating. The Cardinals were a much more attractive job from that standpoint. But I also don't think you can underestimate the uphill battle Whisenhunt faced to create a positive atmosphere in a city that really didn't care about the Cardinals until very recently.
Say what you want about sports in Detroit, but the Lions have a large and dedicated fan base that is itching for the team to get on track. It should make a difference to players and coaches that they have loyal backers.
Loyalty and support, however, can't make up for years of poor drafting and ill-advised free agent decisions. Schwartz is entering on the bottom floor. Whisenhunt jumped in on mid-ascent.