Chandler’s Cross, England — Lions general manager Martin Mayhew provided more insight into the team’s choice to fire three assistant coaches Monday.
Although he said coach Jim Caldwell made the decision, as Caldwell has said multiple times this week, Mayhew explained some details of how the coach reached his conclusion.
The coach and executive spoke on the phone Sunday night after the Lions lost to the Minnesota Vikings and agreed to look at the film to see how the performance looked. They reconvened Monday morning and talked about the staff again around 1 p.m. — after Caldwell’s 12:30 p.m. news conference — when the coach informed Mayhew of the plan to fire offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn and assistant offensive line coach Terry Heffernan.
At the team's hotel, Lions general manager Martin Mayhew talked about the team firing three assistants and how he's responsible for the poor play this season.
“If you think Jim Caldwell was influenced into doing something like that, you don’t know Jim Caldwell,” Mayhew said Friday at The Grove, where the team is preparing for Sunday’s game in London. “It’s his responsibility; it’s his staff. He’s been coaching a very long time. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He knows that it’s his call on that, and he decided to make that move.”
Caldwell told the players in a team meeting later Monday afternoon. Mayhew said he was completely on board with Caldwell’s decision.
“It’s his call, but yes, I was supportive of making a change,” he said to a group of about 10 Detroit reporters and team website employees.
Mayhew said owner and chairwoman Martha Firestone Ford supported the decision, too.
“I think the Ford family has been very supportive of things that we have done to try to improve, and that’s what we felt that (the firings) would help us do,” he said.
The Lions fell to 1-6 after the loss to the Vikings, and the hapless offense failed to produce for most of the final three quarters. The team allowed seven sacks, too.
“There really was no tipping point,” Mayhew said of the firings. “I think we’re all evaluated on our performance — players, coaches, GMs — and it’s a continual evaluation that takes place.
“Those three guys, I think, are outstanding football coaches. I think they’ll coach in the NFL for a very long time.”
Mayhew, though, is upset that the outside perspective would be that those coaches were the primary reason for this year’s struggles.
“The thing I don’t like about what happened is it sort of makes it look like we think those guys are the problem,” he said. “Let’s get rid of those guys, and let’s go start winning football games.
“We certainly think we made that move for a reason, to help us win games, but there’s a lot of people and everybody is involved in what has happened thus far this season, especially myself. And I’m responsible for our football operation, so it is on me what has happened this season.”