Detroit Lions: Ranking the top 7 coaches in franchise history

Detroit Lions (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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Monte Clark, Detroit Lions
Monte Clark, Detroit Lions (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

6) Monte Clark

Monte Clark was the Lions head coach from 1978-1984. Clark was a tackle that played both ways early in his career but settled in on the offensive side of the ball and had stints with the 49ers, Cowboys, and Browns.

After a season as the 49ers head coach, Clark took over a mediocre Lions team and did make them competitive. After a poor season in 1979, Detroit used the first pick in the draft to select Oklahoma’s Heisman Trophy-winning running back, Billy Sims.

Sims gave the Lions a game-breaker on offense that opponents couldn’t stop even though they knew he was coming. The Lions were one of the top rushing teams in the NFL and they were solid defensively. Like most of the other coaching regimes in the Motor City, they lacked a franchise passer.

Clark compiled a record of 43-61-1 with the Lions and did lead them to the playoffs twice but lost both contests, even though they did have a chance to beat the 49ers with a late field goal in the 1983 playoffs, but ‘steady’ Eddie Murray missed the kick and the Lions lost 24-23. After a disappointing 4-11 finish in 1984, Clark was let go.