Things are going to look different in the NFC North next year.
The 2017-18 season had barely wrapped up when the Detroit Lions announced they were kicking Jim Caldwell to the curb. Early Monday the Chicago Bears assigned John Fox the same fate.
Caldwell led the Detroit Lions to three winning records in his four seasons as coach, but the team's inability to do anything more ultimately cost him his job. He and offensive line coach/assistant head coach Ron Prince were sacked on Monday morning, one day after they closed the season with a 35-11 win over the Green Bay Packers.
And this is not great news for Vikings fans who have enjoyed a rejuvenated offense: NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reports that the Lions have asked for permission to speak with Vikings Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur for the head job.
Caldwell posted the highest regular-season winning percentage (.563) of any full-time Lions coach in the Super Bowl era, but his 36-28 record included just four victories over teams that finished above .500, and he went 0-2 in the playoffs. He inherited a team coming off back-to-back losing seasons when the Lions named him their 26th head coach on Jan. 14, 2014.
Caldwell led the Lions to an 11-5 record and wildcard appearance in his first season as coach, before leveling off the past three seasons. The 11 wins tied for the second most in franchise history.
General manager Bob Quinn will embark immediately on a search for a replacement, one that's expected to include two of his former colleagues with the New England Patriots, defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
Fox was let go by the Bears on Monday, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the subject. It was his third head coaching job.
Fox joined the Bears in 2015 after he was fired by the Denver Broncos. But Chicago finished below .500 in all three of Fox's seasons at the helm. The former Carolina Panthers coach also never led the Bears to a finish better than last place in the NFC North.
With eight to 10 projected vacancies this year, the Lions and bears could have competition for some of the top candidates.
The New York Giants job, considered one of the best in the NFL, came open last month, the Oakland Raiders and Indianapolis Colts jobs came open Sunday and the Chicago Bears and Cincinnati Bengals are among other expected vacancies.