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The Best Detroit Lions Coaches of All Time

Updated September 24, 2021 3.4k votes 770 voters 22.4k views30 items

List RulesVote up the coaches you believe had the best impact on the team.

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 voting up your personal favorite Detroit Lions coaches. 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. Many consider Fontes to be one of the best in the Detroit Lions coaching history. 

Since 1996, there have been eight different Lions head coaches, including names like Dick Jauron, Bobby Ross, and most recently Jim Schwartz. Jim Caldwell was the head coach from 2014 until 2017. This list has former Lions coaches, as well as current coaches. If one of the Detroit Lions past coaches is your favorite of all time, then be sure to vote them up! 

Who is the greatest Detroit Lions coach of all time? Let us know by voting for your favorite head coaches below - the ones you believe really made an impact on the franchise.

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  • 1
    New Bedford, Massachusetts
    255
    123
    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 from...  more
  • 2
    Beloit, Wisconsin
    265
    132
    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 Football...  more
  • 3
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    153
    59
    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

    #16 of 137 The Best Detroit Lions of All Time#69 of 154 The Greatest Linebackers of All Time#284 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

  • 4
    Slaton, Texas
    88
    44
    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 Cardinals, the...  more
  • 5
    Fowler, Colorado
    68
    34
    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 and coach, basketball player and...  more

    #63 of 120 The Best Quarterbacks Of All Time#1150 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever#83 of 206 The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time

  • 6
    Glenside, Abington Township
    55
    37
    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....  more
  • 7
    Carthage, Illinois
    50
    32
    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 Michigan...  more
  • 8
    Lima, Ohio
    70
    70
    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 Michigan, he...  more
  • 9
    Kingsburg, California
    61
    63
    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
  • 10
    Iron Mountain, Michigan
    63
    85
    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 San Francisco...  more
  • 11
    Clifton, Texas
    3
    0
    Daniel Allen Campbell (born April 13, 1976) is an American football coach and former tight end who is the head coach of the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL). He previously served...  more
  • 12
    Baltimore, Halethorpe
    96
    134
    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 the...  more
  • 13
    Richmond, Virginia
    57
    79
    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 Park...  more
  • 14
    Okinawa, Japan
    1
    3
    Robert Prince (born May 8, 1965) is an American football coach who is the wide receivers coach for the Houston Texans of the National Football League (NFL)....  more
  • 15
    Yuma, Arizona
    3
    6
    Darrell Wayne Bevell (born January 6, 1970) is an American football coach who is the offensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions in the National Football League (NFL). He previously served in the...  more

    #63 of 107 College & Professional Athletes Who Were Raised Mormon#4 of 41 The Best Wisconsin Badgers Quarterbacks of All Time

  • 16
    Birmingham, Alabama
    21
    38
    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 was...  more

    #75 of 95 The Best Alabama Crimson Tide Football Players of All Time#45 of 86 The Best No. 1 Overall NFL Draft Picks Of All Time, Ranked#117 of 130 The Greatest College Football Quarterbacks of All Time

  • 17
    Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin
    21
    41
    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 Dame, where he...  more
  • 18
    Oberlin, Ohio
    18
    38
    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 (1919–1924), the...  more
  • 19
    Cleveland, Ohio
    21
    44
    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 Super...  more
  • 20
    Monaca, Pennsylvania
    16
    37
    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 the Brooklyn...  more
  • 21
    Detroit, Michigan
    19
    43
  • 22
    Prairie Hill, Texas
    13
    36
    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 College in...  more
  • 23
    Akron, Ohio
    19
    47
    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 National...  more
  • 24
    Peoria, Illinois
    25
    61
    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 Bengals....  more
  • 25
    Dominic Lount addedSherrill, New York
    57
    132
    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 as an...  more