The Detroit Lions announced the firing of head coach Jim Caldwell on Monday morning.
The team tweeted that general manager Bob Quinn informed Caldwell of the move.
Caldwell spent four seasons in Detroit, leading the team to a 36-28 record and two playoff berths — or twice as many as the previous three head coaches over the preceding 12 years.
Detroit beat rival Green Bay, 35-11, on Sunday, leaving the team with a 9-7 record and second-place finish in the NFC North. The Lions finished seventh in the conference, just out of the final playoff spot.
While Caldwell was the most successful coach the Lions have had since the days of Wayne Fontes (Fontes was 66-67 in eight-plus seasons, with four playoff appearances including the franchise’s lone postseason victory in the Super Bowl era ), he wasn’t Quinn’s hire. Quinn was brought to the franchise in January 2016, and the decision was made to retain Caldwell as coach.
There were reports in December that Caldwell had been signed to a contract extension earlier in 2017, though it was guaranteed only through 2018, with team options after that.
While Caldwell took the fall for this year’s disappointing playoff miss, Quinn didn’t do him many favors. The Lions have significant areas of need on their roster — they’ve continually struggled to run the ball, finishing last in the league in rushing yards this season — and the defense finished in the bottom third in several key categories.
That’s not to say Caldwell was perfect; he certainly wasn’t, and the Lions’ consistent pattern of slow starts exhibits that. In 2016, Detroit won nine games, but needed quarterback Matthew Stafford to bring the team back in the fourth quarter for eight of them.
Because Quinn spent the first 16 years of his NFL career with New England, Patriots coaches have been mentioned as prospective successors to Caldwell from nearly the moment Quinn was hired.
And indeed, no sooner did news come on Monday morning of Caldwell’s firing did NFL Network report that the Lions are expected to interview Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia for the job.
There could also be interest in New England’s offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels. However, Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson reported on Sunday night that McDaniel is interested more in the Indianapolis Colts job with Andrew Luck and former New England backup Jacoby Brissett at quarterback.