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Lions Are Done With Mariucci

Detroit fires coach, who was 15-28 in his two-plus seasons. Jauron gets the interim job for the 4-7 team.

November 29, 2005|Sam Farmer | Times Staff Writer

Unable to turn around a perennial losing franchise, Steve Mariucci was fired Monday by the Detroit Lions and replaced by Dick Jauron, Mariucci's defensive coordinator, who will serve as interim coach for the rest of the season.

Mariucci, who had two seasons remaining on the $25-million deal he signed in 2003, was 15-28 over two-plus seasons and couldn't transform a franchise that has won one playoff game since 1957.

The final insult, apparently, was the Lions' 27-7 loss to Atlanta on Thanksgiving, a defeat that dropped Detroit's record to 4-7.

"We started off this season with high expectations," team President Matt Millen said at an afternoon news conference.

"I believed this was a roster that was capable of making a playoff run. We have not lived up to our expectations. We have underachieved as a football team."

Millen said he'd decided to fire Mariucci on Monday morning. He also fired offensive line coach Pat Morris and tight end coach Andy Sugarman.

The effectiveness of Millen too has been under scrutiny for some time. He hired both Mariucci and his predecessor, Marty Mornhinweg, and had a hand in drafting a slew of under-performing first-round picks, among them quarterback Joey Harrington and receiver Charles Rogers.

Evidently, though, Millen's job is safe for the moment; he was given a five-year contract extension before the season.

Since 2001, the Lions have the NFL's worst record, 20-55.

Jauron, Detroit's defensive coordinator the last two seasons, was fired as coach of the Chicago Bears in 2003, after four losing seasons in five years. He was selected as NFL coach of the year during his lone winning season in Chicago.

"We need to take these next five weeks, and we need to play ... and see what we can get out of it," Jauron said. "I don't have plans, other than the next game."

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The Associated Press contributed to this report

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