Former Lions coach Jim Schwartz is introduced as Bills defensive coordinator during a press conference Monday. (Herry Scull Jr. / Associated Press)
The Buffalo Bills introduced Jim Schwartz as defensive coordinator Monday, exactly four weeks after the Lions fired him as head coach.
During Schwartz’s introductory news conference, he explained what made the job appealing and talked about his love for coaching and the scheme he’ll bring to Buffalo.
“When you’re a head coach, and you find yourself on the outside, you want to be very careful about your next opportunity, and I was in this case,” Schwartz said. “And I didn’t step into this lightly. Not only from the administration here, the ownership and the coaching staff, but also from a player standpoint, this is a tremendous opportunity for a defensive coach.”
Schwartz will take over for Mike Pettine, who left the Bills to become head coach of the Cleveland Browns. The Lions fired Schwartz on Dec. 30 after a 29-51 record and one playoff loss in five seasons.
The Bills broadcasted the beginning of the news conference on WGR-AM.
Instead of discussing his past with the Lions, Schwartz chose to explain what he expects with his new team. He said the Bills will have a multi-dimensional defense with opponent-specific game plans.
“We’re an attack scheme,” Schwartz said. “It’s a scheme built on the guys up front getting after the quarterback, and as much you want to be multi-dimensional and have different personnel groups, this league boils down to guys winning one on one, and I think we have some guys that can do that.”
Before joining the Lions in 2009, Schwartz was defensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans from 2001-08. Bills coach Doug Marrone spent time as an offensive coach for the New York Jets and New Orleans Saints during most of Schwartz’s time in Tennessee.
“Having watched his defenses, the way they’ve played, it goes back to my original theory,” Marrone said. “When you look at hiring defensive coordinators, you want to look at people that you don’t like going against their defense. Jim’s defenses have always been very tough, very difficult to run on, very difficult to score on, they’ve been aggressive and it’s been very tough to game plan against them.”
Schwartz expressed his gratitude toward Marrone as well as Bills president Russ Brandon and general manager Doug Whaley. He also praised some of the defensive players, including defensive linemen Kyle Williams, Mario Williams and Marcell Dareus.
Although Buffalo went 6-10 last season, the defense ranked 10th in the NFL in yards allowed and has young talent at all three levels.
The Bills also hired former Lions quarterbacks coach Todd Downing.
Reminiscent of his time in Detroit, Schwartz corrected a couple reporters after questions during the news conference, including after one about the wide-9 scheme. Schwartz said the wide-9 will be part of his scheme, but won’t define it.
“Mostly that (label is) thrown around by people that couldn’t line it up if they wanted to,” he said. “That’s no disrespect to those people, but there are 32 teams in the NFL and all 32 of them line up in a wide-9. Not all of them are called wide-9 teams, but that’s just the way it goes.”
Schwartz also reflected back on why he started coaching after graduating from Georgetown, saying “football was what I loved most.” That’s why it was easy for him to jump right back into it, despite how things ended in Detroit.
“I work an awful lot, but I wouldn’t say I have a great work ethic,” Schwartz said. “I just like what I do, and when you combine your hobby and your profession, I think you’re in a great position.
“There was never a question of getting back on the horse, so to speak. It was just making sure that the opportunity was the right one, and I’m very confident that it is.”