The Detroit Lions are just 10 months removed from an 11-5 season and a trip to the playoffs. On Thursday, in the midst of a disastrous 1-7 start to 2015, they decided to hit the reset button.
General manager Martin Mayhew and president Tom Lewand are both out. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Jim Caldwell has been told he remains the head coach, but forgive Caldwell if he's not doing cartwheels through the Lions' facility. It should be nothing more than a stay of execution. Caldwell is under contract through the 2017 season, but consider him the ultimate lame duck.
The timing of the move is unusual. The Lions are just one week removed from firing offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and two offensive line coaches. Those moves might have saved Caldwell's job for now, the team unwilling to further gut a coaching staff midstream. But the firing of long-standing front office personnel -- particularly Lewand -- indicates just how upset ownership is with the team's sudden nosedive.
"We had no clue," one coach told NFL Media's Albert Breer of Thursday's major changes. Breer said on NFL Network that the moves were like "a bomb going off" at Lions headquarters.
What comes next? They've invested tens of millions of dollars and seven seasons in Matthew Stafford, and it's safe to wonder if new leadership will believe Stafford is still the answer with a high first-round pick on the way. Rapoport reported that Stafford's Lions future beyond 2015 is "very much in doubt." If the Lions do start from scratch, what does that mean for 30-year-old Calvin Johnson, who's under contract through the 2019 season?
The Lions have yet to appear in a Super Bowl in the 50-year history of the big game. On Thursday, they waved the white flag on the latest group tasked with ending that embarrassing drought. The decisions made by Martha Ford tell us the Lions could be virtually unrecognizable the next time they play a relevant snap.