New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia will become the next head coach of the Detroit Lions once the Patriots season officially ends according to ESPN‘s Adam Schefter yesterday. The 43-year-old coach still has to agree to terms on a contract after his duties with New England are finished this season, but he and the Lions are expected to hammer out the details rather quickly. SI’s Albert Breer reported last night that Detroit informed other candidates for the opening that they have been eliminated from the search and are moving forward with the expectation Patricia will be their next head coach.
Patricia has worked as a coaching assistant under Bill Belichick since 2004. Prior to that, Patricia served as a defensive line coach at Division III Amherst College then worked as a graduate assistant at Syracuse for three seasons. Patricia worked his way through many roles on the Patriots staff including assistant offensive line, linebackers and safeties coach before being promoted to defensive coordinator in 2012. Patricia is an intelligent man, can connect with his players both on a schematic and emotional level and deliver the message across to his guys in a way that is easy to understand and execute in game action.
Case and point this season, where despite early struggles and a flurry of injuries on the defensive side of the ball including his best defensive player Dont’a Hightower, the Patriots defense has been statistically much improved. It comes down to coaching. Belichick and Patricia have done a tremendous job of coaching the guys up on situational football and week-to-week preparing for their opponents. It’s why New England has established a consistency of dominance over the league, they have a great system with tremendous coaches and a great scheme preaching situational football. These are things Patricia has learned in over a decade of working under Bill Belichick and will bring with him to Detroit. It’s why he can succeed with the Lions.
Matt Patricia is an upgrade over the mundane and vastly overrated Jim Caldwell. That much isn’t even debatable. Caldwell is a coach that didn’t even deserve to lead a team like the Lions with so much upside, he was what was holding them back. That’s why former Patriot personnel man and current Lions General Manager Bob Quinn made the decision to part with their coach and bring in a young, defensive-minded coach to lead his team. Having worked in New England, Patricia made the most sense and was the ideal candidate for the position. The other hot-candidate who will soon get a shot to run his own team is Mike Vrabel who was the other front-runner for the position.
Matt Patricia is a genius, we all know the story of his degree in aeronautical engineering from R.P.I, and the “rocket scientist” knows in order to succeed in this league you need a great Quarterback. He’s coached for a team led by Tom Brady for years, and knows that’s what you need to win consistently. That’s why he chose Detroit, they have an established top-QB in the NFL in Matthew Stafford the tough guy from UGA that can throw with the best of em. The Lions are also keeping their well-respected offensive staff intact led by offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter who resurrected the Lions offense in recent years after being promoted to the position. They have tremendous weapons on offense on the outside for Stafford in Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, Eric Ebron and Theo Riddick. In a passing league, Patricia doesn’t have to worry about such a stout unit with the offensive staff coming back and a veteran franchise QB leading his team. Best situation you can walk into in this day and age, especially for a defensive coach who can just worry about his side of the football and getting his message across to the players.
Another reason why Patricia can not only succeed, but thrive in Detroit is the talent is there on defense. He just needs to install his scheme and with the help of Quinn, who comes from the Patriots tree and knows exactly what kind of players to add to the equation, have the talent in the right place to make plays and win football games. Ezekiel Ansah is a mean pass rusher that Patricia will absolutely love to coach up, he’s still relatively new to football and has all the raw talent and abilities to be one of the best in the sport. After all, Ziggy led Detroit with 12.5 sacks this year and his counterpart at DE Anthony Zettel has potential to be great as well. Tahir Whitehead is their most established linebacker and led the team in tackles with 110 and one that Patricia can trust in leading his unit. They also have a couple of playmakers on the back-end in “big play” Darrius Slay at corner and Glover Quinn over the top playing safety. The foundation of a great defense is in place, it’s up to Patricia and Bob Quinn with some additions and coaching to take them to the next level and put Detroit back in the position of winning the NFC North and making a postseason run.
This is the right time for Matt Patricia. He’s done is all under Belichick and it will be his time to do it on his own starting next season. There’s still unfinished business in New England with the upcoming AFC Championship, but I don’t think him taking the Detroit job will hinder his gameplan and performance calling the defense over the next few weeks. He wants another ring to make it three in four years so he can peacefully walk away and try it himself, just as Romeo Crennel did under Belichick as DC after the 2004 Super Bowl championship. This was an easy call for Patricia, and the intelligent coach will walk in to a great situation and have a chance to compete right away.
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