Wayne Fontes: The Most Successful Detroit Lions Coach Ever? Really?


The Detroit Lions have had an up and down existence in the NFL, mostly down in recent decades. Over the years they’ve had some great players, but have put together very few great seasons. There could be a number of reasons for this, ranging from the ownership, to the front office, to the coaching staff, to the players themselves. In fact, there are probably multiple reasons. Let’s take a look at the most successful coach the Lions have had.

In terms of number of victories, Wayne Fontes is the winningest coach in Detroit Lions history. Fontes coached the team for nine seasons, from 1988 to 1996, and over the course of his tenure there he put up a record consisting of 66 wins and 67 losses. The Detroit Lions head coach with the most career wins has a below .500 record.

Lions teams coached by Fontes made the playoffs four times, but only won one playoff game.

The Detroit Lions have been around as a franchise since 1930, and in almost 80 years this is the most wins any of the team’s coaches have been able to rack up.

To give a good idea about how poor this number is, let’s see how it ranks among all coaches who have ever coached in the NFL. 59 other head coaches have amassed more wins during their career than the Detroit Lions coach with the most wins, Wayne Fontes.

Fontes does have the distinction of leading the Lions to their most regular season wins though. In 1991, the Lions went 12-4 which is one more victory than they had ever accumulated during the regular season before.

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