ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Matt Millen has dismantled almost the entire management team he put together when he took over the Detroit Lions.

If the Lions don't starting winning soon, Millen knows that he could be next.

Millen fired Marty Mornhinweg on Monday after the coach won only five games in two years with the Lions.

"Whatever it takes to get us to win, you do," said Millen, the team president. "And if it takes changing the head coach, then that's what you do. You don't sit idly by, and you don't worry about how it's going to look."

Millen, a former linebacker who won four Super Bowl rings with three teams, was hired two years ago with no front office experience. He then hired Mornhinweg, who had never been a head coach at any level.

Since Millen took over the team two years ago, many of his important hires have already left, including Mornhinweg, personnel director Bill Tobin and two of Millen's assistants.

After completing a 3-13 season and a 5-27 record over two years — the worst two-season stretch in franchise history — it was surprising when Millen said on Dec. 31 that Mornhinweg would be retained.

Millen was asked repeatedly what changed over the past month, and each time he made vague references about a "process."

One event may have been the beginning of the end for Mornhinweg: San Francisco firing coach Steve Mariucci.

"It's certainly a factor, but I don't think it's a big factor or a main factor," Millen said.

Millen said he hopes Mariucci will be a candidate for the job.

"I spoke to Steve after he was let go, and I would like to speak to him again," Millen said.

Mariucci, an Iron Mountain, Mich., native, had a 60-43 record in six seasons with the 49ers.

Millen would not identify any other candidates but said he would support the NFL's effort to promote diversity among head coaches by possibly interviewing current Lions assistant Sherm Lewis and former Minnesota Vikings coach Dennis Green.

"There are viable candidates and we have to go through that process," Millen said.

The Lions did not fire the rest of Mornhinweg's staff, including fired Michigan State coach Bobby Williams, whom Mornhinweg hired to be the Lions' running backs coach earlier this month.

Mornhinweg could not be reached for comment but is expected to address the media on Tuesday.

Mornhinweg became the fifth NFL coach to be fired since the end of the season, following dismissals at Cincinnati, Dallas, Jacksonville and San Francisco.

The Lions lost their first 12 games during Mornhinweg's first year and their last eight games this season. Only the Bengals finished with a worse record this season.

Mornhinweg, who was 0-16 on the road, matched Chris Palmer's two-year record of futility for a new coach since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978.

Palmer coached the Cleveland Browns in 1999 and 2000. Palmer, though, was coaching an expansion team. Mornhinweg took over a team that went 9-7 and narrowly missed the playoffs.

Mornhinweg replaced Gary Moeller, who took over for Bobby Ross midway through the 2000 season. Mornhinweg will be paid for the one year remaining on his contract. Millen said the Lions are no longer paying Moeller or Ross.

Mornhinweg was the 49ers' offensive coordinator under Mariucci for four seasons before getting his first head coaching job. The Edmond, Okla., native was a Green Bay assistant for two seasons after being an assistant at six colleges.

The 40-year-old was widely criticized this season for choosing to take the wind instead of the ball after the Lions won an overtime coin toss against Chicago. The Bears got the kickoff and drove to the winning field goal.

When Mornhinweg was hired, he set the team's sights on a first Super Bowl trip. The Lions have had only one playoff victory since winning the 1957 NFL title.

"The bar is high," he said. "The goal for this organization is to win Super Bowls."

Mornhinweg had insisted the team's weak record stemmed from failed drafts from the previous regime, along with aging or injured players.