The Detroit Lions have hired Matt Patricia as their head coach going into the 2018 season, the team announced in a press release Monday afternoon.
The team fired head coach Jim Caldwell following a 9-7 season, his second consecutive such record. The firing came following a season in which hopes were high for a playoff run, especially as division rival Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings were decimated with injuries. The record, however, left the Lions at seventh in the NFC and on the outside looking in at the playoffs, leading general manager Bob Quinn to relieve Caldwell of his duties the morning after the season finale.
Detroit Lions Hire Matt Patricia as Head Coach
Patricia has been a part of the New England Patriots staff since being hired by head coach Bill Belichick in 2004. He’s seen both sides of the ball, having coached the offensive line, tight ends, linebackers, and safeties in the time since.
In 2012 Patricia was named the Patriots defensive coordinator, although he had been calling plays on defense since the departure of defensive coordinator Dean Pees three years prior. Patricia’s defenses have finished in the top 10 in scoring defense every year in the six years since his appointment, and eight out of the nine years since he began calling plays.
Patricia was reportedly the frontrunner for both the Lions and New York Giants head coaching jobs, the latter of which has since hired former Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur for the position.
Patricia’s Hire Not a Secret
The hire comes as no surprise, as many have linked Quinn to Patricia since the former was named the Lions general manager in 2016. Quinn had spent 16 years with the Patriots before coming to Detroit, his last four as their director of pro scouting. Upon being hired, Quinn dubbed both Patricia and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as “ready and willing to be head coaches,” in addition to saying he had good relationships with both.
Patricia has reportedly had the job for several weeks now, but the two sides could not formally announce an agreement until the Patriots’ season was officially over, per NFL rules.
Patricia has acknowledged the matter himself, as MLive’s Kyle Meinke reported Tuesday that as he began his Super Bowl media session, Patricia jokingly asked “You guys got a lot of Philadelphia Eagles questions, right?” He was referring to the influx of questions surrounding the Lions head coaching position.
Patricia Moving Fast
The new head coach has reportedly already made significant changes to the staff. Prior to last week, the entirety of Caldwell’s staff was still under contract with the exception of defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, now in the same role with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Per the Detroit News’ Justin Rogers, Patricia informed a number of assistants last week that they would not be retained, including quarterbacks coach Brian Callahan, defensive line coach Kris Kocurek, linebackers coach Bill Sheridan, and defensive backs coaches Tony Oden and Alan Williams. Many have found work already, with Callahan going to the Oakland Raiders and Oden & Kocurek joining the Miami Dolphins staff, all in the same roles they had while with the Lions.
Despite not being formally hired yet, Patricia has already begun assembling his staff for the upcoming season. Reports have surfaced that Patricia has called on George Godsey, Jeff Davidson, and Brian Stewart for the roles of quarterbacks, offensive line, and defensive backs coaches, respectively. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport was among many who reported that former Syracuse head coach and current Boston College defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni is a favorite for the defensive coordinator job as well.
As of Sunday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, who Matt Stafford rallied behind following Caldwell’s firing, will remain on Patricia’s staff in the same role.
Bob Quinn’s Hire
Patricia’s hiring will be the signature of Quinn’s tenure as Lions general manager, as Quinn is finally bringing in ‘his guy.’
Only time will tell if Patricia is the right hire, but one thing is for sure: as with any general manager bringing in ‘his guy,’ how Patricia does will shape Quinn’s future with the Lions.