PONTIAC, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions have fired coach Darryl Rogers, team officials confirmed Monday.
Rogers, who had one year left in his contract, was fired by Lions owner William Clay Ford Sunday after the team's 23-20 loss to the lowly Tampa Bay Bucs. The Lions are 2-11 this season.
Ford hired Rogers Feb. 6, 1985 to replace head coach Monte Clark. Rogers earned $225,000 a year.
Rogers will be replaced for the remaining five games of the season by defensive co-ordinator and secondary coach Wayne Fontes, who came to the Lions in 1985 before Rogers was hired.
Fontes, 48 and a former defensive back at Michigan State University, had been a defensive coach at Tampa Bay for nine years before being hired by Detroit.
Rogers, 53, never achieved success with Detroit. The team was 7-9 in 1985 during his first year, dropped to 5-11 in 1986 and 4-11 in strike-marred 1987.
A crowd of only 25,956 at the Silverdome watched the Lions lose Sunday to the Buccaneers, 3-8. That is the worst crowd, not including strike-marred seasons, since 21,807 fans watched a game between Detroit and New York Oct. 21, 1951 in Briggs Stadium, now Tiger Stadium in Detroit.
Rogers started coaching at the college level in 1965 at Hayward State in California. He went to Fresno State 1966-72, San Jose State 1973-75, Michigan State for four years and Arizona State for seven years. During his collegiate career his teams won 129 games, lost 84 and tied seven for a .603 percentage.
Rogers and the Lions expected to have at least a .500 season, and possibly a winning one, in 1988, although experts ranked them near the bottom of the NFC Central Division.
Despite the coach's optimism, the team never seemed to pull itself together. The Lions lost all four of their exhibition games, showing an inept offense.
Rogers, however, insisted the offense would perk up once the season began, and indeed, the Lions opened with a comfortable 31-10 win over Atlanta on opening day, Sept. 4. Their only other win this season, however, was Oct. 23 when they beat Kansas City 7-6. They have not won since, and managed only 89 net yards on Nov. 6 against Minnesota in losing 44-17 while the Vikings piled up 553 yards total offense.
The Lions' remaining opponents this season are Green Bay Sunday at Milwaukee; Minnesota in the Silverdome on Thanksgiving Day; Green Bay at home Dec. 4; the Bears in Chicago Dec. 11 and the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay on Dec. 18.