Although it’s not without precedence for the Detroit Lions to make head coaching changes mid-season, most coaching changes occur in the off-season. Detroit doesn’t fire many head coaches mid-stream.
Jim Caldwell will more than likely remain at the helm until shortly after the season finale–but make no mistake, he’ll be gone before the draft.
Here’s a look at the farewells from Lions head coaches from Wayne Fontes through Jim Schwartz:
NFL career record: 66-67 (.496)
Lions overall record: 66-67 in 133 games (.496) 1-4 in playoff games
Record in final Lions season: 5-11
Date hired: 11/14/1988
Date fired: 12/27/1996
Fontes was Detroit’s defensive coordinator when head coach Darryl Rogers was fired mid-season in 1988 when the Lions were 2-9. He was promoted to head coach.
The Lions would go 2-3 in Fontes’ term as interim head coach, a title he would shed heading into the ’89 season.
“Give me some time, and three or four players, and I think we’re going to be a very good football team,” said Fontes upon being hired.
Detroit drafted Barry Sanders in the 1989 NFL draft, so he got his wish.
Fontes would have a winning record in 1991, and 1993-1995, winning one of five playoff appearances, but his final season would have the Lions finishing 5-11 in 1996.
A victim of his own (relative) success, Fontes won and lost more games than any coach in Lions history. However, his 1-4 playoff record left ownership and some of the fan-base wanting bigger and better things, so he was fired after the ’96 season.
I want to say it’s been a great eight years…We gave you guys some hope. When we came here, we never had that.
–Wayne Fontes on being fired