Sports

The Best Detroit Lions Coaches of All Time 

Ranker NFL
Updated June 14, 2019 2.7k votes 672 voters 20k views 27 items
There have been many Detroit Lions coaches since the team got its start, but who is truly the best Detroit Lions coach of all time? Help us answer that question by upvoting your personal favorite Detroit Lions coaches, and downvoting any that you believe brought the team down. Unfortunately the Lions have never even been to a Super Bowl, and are only one of four teams to hold that honor.
 
The Lions have not historically had a lot of playoff success, but Wayne Fontes coached the team to several playoff seasons during his run from 1988-1996. The Lions only went 1-4 during those appearances, but at least he helped them get there.
 
Since 1996 there have been 8 different Lions head coaches, including names like Dick Jauron, Bobby Ross, and most recently Jim Schwartz. The current head coach of the Detroit Lions is Jim Caldwell, having been with the team since 2014.
 
Who is the greatest Detroit Lions coach of all time? Let us know by upvoting for your favorite head coaches below that you believe really made an impact on the franchise.
list ordered by
1
Wayne Fontes is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Detroit Lions Coaches of All Time
Age: 79

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: New Bedford, Massachusetts, United States of America

Wayne Fontes (; born February 2, 1940) is a former American football coach and college and professional football player who was the head coach of the National Football League's Detroit Lions ...more
2
Jim Caldwell is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Detroit Lions Coaches of All Time
Age: 64

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Beloit, Wisconsin

James Caldwell (born January 16, 1955) is an American football coach and former player who is currently the assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach for the Miami Dolphins of the National ...more
3
Joe Schmidt is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Detroit Lions Coaches of All Time
Age: 87

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States of America

Teams: Detroit Lions

Joseph Schmidt (1904 – 1942) was a tenor and actor. Joseph Schmidt or Joe Schmidt may also refer to: Joe Schmidt (American football) (born 1932), American football player and coach Joe Schmidt ...more

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#157 of 542 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #1,302 of 1,537 The Best Football Players Ever #13 of 124 The Best Detroit Lions of All Time

4
Buddy Parker is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Detroit Lions Coaches of All Time
Dec. at 69 (1913-1982)

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Slaton, Texas

Raymond "Buddy" Parker (December 16, 1913 – March 22, 1982) was a football player and coach in the National Football League who served as head coach for three teams: the Chicago ...more
5
Dutch Clark is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Detroit Lions Coaches of All Time
Dec. at 72 (1906-1978)

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Fowler, Colorado

Earl Harry "Dutch" Clark (October 11, 1906 – August 5, 1978), sometimes also known as the "Flying Dutchman" and the "Old Master", was an American football player ...more

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#81 of 257 The Best Quarterbacks Of All Time #99 of 230 The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time #872 of 1,537 The Best Football Players Ever

6
Gary Moeller is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Detroit Lions Coaches of All Time
Age: 78

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Lima, Ohio

Gary Oscar Moeller (born January 26, 1941) is a former American football coach best known for being head coach at the University of Michigan from 1990 to 1994. During his five seasons at ...more
7
George Clark is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Detroit Lions Coaches of All Time
George "Potsy" Clark Dec. at 78 (1894-1972)

Birthplace: Carthage, Illinois

George M. "Potsy" Clark (March 20, 1894 – November 8, 1972) was an American football and baseball player, coach, and athletics administrator. He served as the head football coach at ...more
8
Monte Clark is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Detroit Lions Coaches of All Time
Dec. at 72 (1937-2009)

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Kingsburg, California

Monte Dale Clark (January 24, 1937 – September 16, 2009) was an American football player who served as head coach for two National Football League teams: the San Francisco 49ers and the Detroit ...more
9
George Wilson is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Detroit Lions Coaches of All Time
George Wilson Dec. at 85 (1905-1990)

Birthplace: Glenside, Abington Township, Pennsylvania

George Bownan Wilson, Jr. (July 18, 1905 – May 3, 1990) was an American football player who played at Lafayette College. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1988.
10
Bobby Ross is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Detroit Lions Coaches of All Time
Age: 83

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Richmond, Virginia

Robert Joseph Ross (born December 23, 1936) is a former American football player and coach. He served as the head football coach at The Citadel (1973–1977), the University of Maryland, College ...more
11
Jim Schwartz is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Detroit Lions Coaches of All Time
Age: 53

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Baltimore, Halethorpe, Maryland

James J. Schwartz (born June 2, 1966) is an American football coach who is the defensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League (NFL). Schwartz was also formerly ...more
12
Steve Mariucci is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Detroit Lions Coaches of All Time
Age: 64

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Iron Mountain, Michigan, United States of America

Stephen Ray Mariucci (born November 4, 1955), nicknamed "Mooch", is an American sportscaster and former football coach who was the head coach of two National Football League teams, the ...more
13
Matt Patricia is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Detroit Lions Coaches of All Time
Dominic Lount added Age: 45

Birthplace: Sherrill, New York

Matthew Edward Patricia (born September 13, 1974) is an American football coach who is the head coach of the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL). He previously served 14 seasons ...more
14
Don McCafferty is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Detroit Lions Coaches of All Time
Don McCafferty Dec. at 53 (1921-1974)

Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio

Donald William McCafferty (March 12, 1921 – July 28, 1974) was an American football player and coach who, in his first year as head coach of the Baltimore Colts, led the team to a victory in ...more
15
Gus Dorais is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Detroit Lions Coaches of All Time
Gus Dorais Dec. at 63 (1891-1954)

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin

Charles Emile "Gus" Dorais (July 2, 1891 – January 3, 1954) was an American football player, coach, and athletic administrator.Dorais played college football at the University of Notre ...more
16
Harry Gilmer is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Detroit Lions Coaches of All Time
Age: 93

Birthplace: Birmingham, Alabama

Harry Vincent Gilmer Jr. (April 14, 1926 – August 20, 2016) was an American football halfback and quarterback in the National Football League for the Washington Redskins and Detroit Lions. He ...more

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#106 of 122 The Greatest College Football Quarterbacks of All Time #69 of 91 The Best Alabama Crimson Tide Football Players of All Time #38 of 52 The Best Detroit Lions Quarterbacks of All Time

17
Hal Griffin is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Detroit Lions Coaches of All Time
Hal Griffin
18
Gus Henderson is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Detroit Lions Coaches of All Time
Gus Henderson Dec. at 76 (1889-1965)

Birthplace: Oberlin, Ohio

Elmer Clinton "Gloomy Gus" Henderson (March 10, 1889 – December 16, 1965) was an American football coach. He served as the head coach at the University of Southern California ...more
19
John Karcis is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Detroit Lions Coaches of All Time
John Karcis Dec. at 65 (1908-1973)

Birthplace: Monaca, Pennsylvania

John "Bull" Karcis (December 3, 1908 – September 4, 1973) was an American football player and coach. He played professionally as a fullback in the National Football League (NFL) for ...more
20
Bo McMillin is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Detroit Lions Coaches of All Time
Bo McMillin Dec. at 57 (1895-1952)

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Prairie Hill, Texas

Alvin Nugent "Bo" McMillin (January 12, 1895 – March 31, 1952) was an American football player and coach at the collegiate and professional level. He played college football at Centre ...more
21
Tommy Hudspeth is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Detroit Lions Coaches of All Time
Tommy Hudspeth Age: 88

Nationality: Canada

Birthplace: Cherryvale, Kansas

Tommy Joe Hudspeth (September 14, 1931 – June 23, 2015) was an American and Canadian football coach and executive at both the collegiate and professional levels. He was the head coach at Brigham ...more
22
Rick Forzano is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Detroit Lions Coaches of All Time
Age: 91
Richard Eugene Forzano (November 20, 1928 – January 10, 2019) was an American football coach at the high school, collegiate and professional levels, most prominently as head coach of the ...more
23
Dick Jauron is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Detroit Lions Coaches of All Time
Age: 69

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Peoria, Illinois

Richard Manuel Jauron (born October 7, 1950) is a former National Football League (NFL) player and coach. He played eight seasons, five with the Detroit Lions and three with the Cincinnati ...more
24
Rod Marinelli is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Detroit Lions Coaches of All Time
Age: 70

Birthplace: Rosemead, California

Rodney Marinelli (born July 13, 1949) is an American football coach who is the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League (NFL). He has been a defensive coach ...more
25
Marty Mornhinweg is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Detroit Lions Coaches of All Time
Age: 57

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Edmond, Oklahoma

Marty Mornhinweg ( morn-HEN-wig; born March 29, 1962) is an American football coach and former player. He most recently served as the offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens of the ...more