New Man in Town
After being defeated in Super Bowl 52, former New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia was named the new head coach of the Detroit Lions.
Patricia’s Path to Detroit
Patricia is the 27th coach in the franchise’s history. He replaces Jim Caldwell who was the coach over the past four seasons from 2013-2017. Caldwell helped instill a culture in Detroit in his tenure. They went from a laughing stock amongst the league to a team that had winning aspirations and expectations. Caldwell may have fallen short at times, Patricia looks like someone who can push the team to the next level.
While Patricia will be the new face of football for the Lions, football was not always his first priority. When Patricia graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (where he played offensive lineman for four years), he initially pursued a career in engineering. While he had offers to stay in this field from various companies, Patricia made the decision to go into coaching. His first job was a defensive assistant at Amherst College in 1999.
Patricia stayed in the college ranks for five years before being brought on as an assistant to Bill Belichick and the Patriots. From 2004-2011 Patricia moved all over the Patriots staff and was an assistant on both sides of the ball. This experience helped him learn different aspects of the game and has surely contributed to his success as a coach. In 2012, Patricia was officially named defensive coordinator and held that position for six seasons. Over that time the Patriots have seen varying results of defensive success under Patricia (league rankings in various categories).
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What to Expect in the Patricia Era
The Lions job will be the first head coaching position for Patricia. He will look to make his mark in the history of this storied franchise. Though this may be his first head coaching spot, Patricia comes from a long lineage of Belichick disciples to take the helm of a new team. The Belichick coaching tree is one of the largest and most well known in the present day NFL. Coaching trees can be messy as most coaches can be traced back/connected to at some point in NFL history. But, Patricia’s time under Belichick is worth noting when considering what he will bring to Detroit. Surely most fans don’t expect him to come to Motown as an exact copy, but there is a lot to like in Patricia. Belichick has even gone so far as to praise him publicly. While these compliments are meaningful to his reputation, he will look to make a name for himself in Detroit. He made it known in his first press conference that he is to be his own guy for the Lions.
This is amendable from Patricia. A major flaw that has plagued the former assistants of Belichick is that they have been pegged to be the new “up-and-coming” version of the iconic Patriots coach. While Belichick and Patricia have some things in common, he looks like someone who can take the lessons learned from his former coach and can bring them in earnest to Detroit. This will look to give him an advantage over some of the other failed promised Belichick copies.
Another factor that will contribute to his success is he will not rock the boat with his transition. Many new head coaches come to town and make wholesale changes to their staff and roster. This can be a good thing in some cases but is by no means the absolute way to go. Patricia and the Lions have announced some new hires to next year’s staff but it looks as though he will be keeping most of the offensive coaching staff intact. This will help the team both giving them new blood in the head coaching change while also keeping some things consistent for a team that has an average age of roughly 26. The Lions mix of veterans and young players should respond well to this move as they go forward into 2018.
All in all Patricia’s move to Detroit has the appearance of a move the franchise needed. It gives a young and intelligent coach an opportunity to show what he has as an NFL coach. The Lions were a top head coach destination this past offseason and it looks like they have found the right coach to bring them to new heights.