ALLEN PARK — Lions general manager Bob Quinn said he made the decision late on Sunday night to fire coach Jim Caldwell. The decision was his alone.
“I felt there was a need to change the leadership in this team. Starting today I’ll be leading that search to hire a new head coach for the Lions,’’ Quinn said at a New Year’s Day press conference.
The Lions beat the Packers 35-11 on Sunday to finish the season at 9-7 for the second straight year.
He said the decision did not rest on one factor.
“I just think that when you look at our record over the last couple years, since I’ve been here, we didn’t beat the really good teams. Our record was above average, 9-7, the last two years but our record against the better teams in the league has not been that good,’’ Quinn said.
Offensive line coach Ron Prince was also fired. The rest of the staff is under contract, but their future will be determined by the new head coach. That includes offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter.
Quinn was hired two years ago and kept Caldwell. The goal was clear for both of them — win a Super Bowl championship.
“At the end of the day I want to take this team to the next level. To me that’s winning championships, that’s winning playoff games and that’s winning the Super Bowl,’’ Quinn said.
“Ultimately I’m the person in charge of football operation here at the Lions. Ultimately the record that we’ve had the last two years is on me.’’
Quinn said there is no timetable. He would not name candidates and would not confirm whether defensive coordinator Teryl Austin will interview for the opening. He said good coaches come in all shapes and sizes. Having head coaching experience is not a prerequisite. Also, he said (when asked) he would consider college coaches.
Quinn and team president Rod Wood will conduct the interviews which will exclude the ownership. Also, players will not be a part of the process. When Caldwell was hired four years ago, Matthew Stafford was involved in the interviews.
Also, unlike the Martin Mayhew regime, Quinn said he will update the media following each coaching interview over the coming weeks.
Quinn opened his remarks with kind words for Caldwell.
“Coach Caldwell is a good football coach, a good man, a good husband, father, grandfather. On behalf of the entire organization I want to thank him personally for his service over the last four years,’’ Quinn said. “Jim has taught me a lot, coming in as a first-time general manager, we spent a lot of time together the last two years. He helped me through that, I want to thank him for that.
“Jim has a great work ethic. There’s not a day that has gone by that his car wasn’t in the parking lot before mine, he put a lot of time and energy into this team and where we are today is part of what Jim did,’’ Quinn said. “I’m proud to say that I worked with him.’’