ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions were unable to achieve their goal of making the playoffs this season, but coach Jim Schwartz will not say the entire mission is a failure.
"As a head coach standing up here, I have a hard time going down into our locker room and to our players and calling them or calling us a failure," he said. "It's not what I believe. Maybe my connotation of the word is stronger.
"We haven't accomplished what we wanted to accomplish. I think I will just leave it at that."
The Lions are out of the playoffs for the fourth time in Schwartz's five seasons at the helm. They have lost five of six games after starting the season 6-3. His record is 29-50 and, perhaps more damning, the team is 10-29 in the second halves of those five seasons.
That's why speculation is rampant throughout the league that Schwartz will be fired after the season, even with two years and $12 million on his contract.
"That's not for me to decide," he said. "I don't know if I want to go there. I know where we were when I took over and I know where we are now. I'll just leave it at that."
Schwartz called his team the "quintessential close but no cigar."
"I said earlier in the season that the tale of this team would be written in the second half of the season," he said. "We did not do a good enough job. We battle every single game but we've come up short consistently from a lot of different things - special teams, offense, defense."
The word failure, though, didn't sit well with him.
"When I hear the word failure, I hear abject failure -- like nothing goes right," Schwartz said. "I don't feel that about our team. I am still proud of our team. Our team comes to battle and they play through the game.
"We've just come up a play short. If somebody wants to term that a failure, that's their right. I'm still a (glass) half-full guy."
At one point in his remarks Monday, Schwartz said that battling hard and coming up short was a "hallmark" of his teams. When questioned on that, he backed off the word, not the sentiment behind it.
"Hallmark is a bad word," he said. "It's been a trend or a description of our team and I'm not taking pride in that. We've been close but we haven't come up with enough wins . Don't make any mistake, I am not taking any pride in that. But that's where we are.
"You ask me to characterize where we've been the last couple of years, that's where we've been - close but not able to get over the hump. We haven't won enough games."