It appears Jim Schwartz is safe

At about the same time the Chicago Bears were firing coach Lovie Smith, another NFC North coach was in the midst of his annual season-ending news conference. Stranger things have happened, but it's fair to make a couple of educated guesses after Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz spoke to local reporters about the 2012 season and the future.

Schwartz declined to comment on his job status or whether he had been told he would come back. But it's reasonable to assume that neither he nor the Lions would position themselves to discuss the offseason if Schwartz's future had not been resolved. Stranger things have happened, but I took that as reasonable circumstantial evidence that he will return in 2013.

It's worth noting, however, that Schwartz predicted in general terms that there will be changes this offseason. He said he had not yet spoken with his assistants about their futures because the season review process is still ongoing.

In NFL speak, Schwartz's noncommittal answer was a warning sign about what might be in store for his coaching staff. We've discussed the difficulty of assigning blame for this 4-12 season on anyone below the head-coaching level, but oftentimes in this league there are scapegoats for problems that extend beyond an individual coach's purview.

I won't bother speculating on who might be in trouble because I really don't know. But based on Schwartz's comments Monday, I would be surprised if the staff returned intact in 2013.