It’s taken over a month for the Detroit Lions to fill their open head coaching position, but a day after the Super Bowl, they finally took care of it.
The team has announced the hiring of New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia as their new head coach. The wait was prolonged due to the Patriots making it to the Super Bowl. He’ll replace Jim Caldwell, who was fired last month after four seasons.
Patricia worked his way up the coaching ladder under Bill Belichick, beginning as an offensive assistant in 2004 and earning a promotion to defensive coordinator in 2012. In between then, he served in a variety of roles, including assistant offensive line coach, linebackers coach and safeties coach.
The Patriots defense was up-and-down during Patricia’s time as DC. This season exemplified that the most. They were 5th best in the NFL in points allowed but were the fourth worst overall defense in the league. They ranked 20th against the run and 30th against the pass.
That disconnect is apparent for the last five years as well. The Patriots defense consistently ranked in the top ten in points allowed, the highest coming last year when they were the best in football in that regard. However, here’s how they ranked in terms of total defense dating back to his first season: 25th, 26th, 13th, 9th and 8th.
At the very least, Patricia had the unit trending upward until this season. Still, it’s fair to wonder if he earned head coaching consideration due to his ties to Belichick. After all, the majority of his assistants who left for head coach jobs crashed and burned, sans Bill O’Brien for the Houston Texans and perhaps Nick Saban if you count college coaching success.
On a more positive note, the Lions are certainly not a bad team. They’re set at quarterback with Matthew Stafford, they have some underrated offensive weapons, and the defense has a similar setup to the Patriots in terms of player talent. That could give Patricia the chance to have the team playing competitive football right away.