After finishing the season with one of the league's worst-ranked defenses, Lions' defensive-minded head coach Rod Marinelli will mutually cut ties with coordinator Donnie Henderson.
The split is amicable, according to NFL sources, who also cited a difference in both player and philosophical approach.
Henderson joined Marinelli's inaugural head coaching staff in January, and was expected to bring a tough-minded, no-nonsense approach to a defense that was in disarray. Essentially, he was expected to compliment nicely the standards set by his long-time friend and professional cohort, Marinelli.
Ravaged by injuries and poor play, the defense allowed opposing offenses to rack up over 345 yards per contest and nearly 25 points in each outing.
According to the source, Henderson -- who previously served as defensive coordinator of the New York Jets -- never became comfortable with Marinelli's "Tampa 2" defense, Marinelli's teaching style, or the approach taken to the players. While Marinelli ran what was considered the toughest training camp in the league, Henderson -- a former player -- seemed more reserved.
The Lions have also lined up Henderson's replacement, who looks to be Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebackers' coach and Marinelli's son-in-law Joe Barry. Barry was Marinelli's first choice in January, but Detroit's requests to interview Barry were denied by Tampa Bay. Barry is no longer locked into a contract with the Buccaneers.
TWO MORE COACHES OUT: In a surprise move, the Lions fired offensive line coach Larry Beightol. Respected among Detroit's lineman following an injury-ravaged year which witnessed several in-season replacements, Beightol was relieved from his duties late Monday. Meanwhile, long-time and successful special teams coach Chuck Priefer announced his retirement. He will likely be replaced by his long-time assistant Stan Kwan.