For 14 seasons, Matt Patricia patrolled the New England Patriots sidelines, working his way up the coaching ladder and earning the admiration of the players and fans in the process.
His thick beard, pencil behind his ear, and locked-in glare on the sideline, Patricia’s time in New England earned him three championship rings on Bill Belichick’s staff. He was a major factor in shaping the Patriots’ defense during the 2014 championship season, capped off by one of the most incredible defensive plays in NFL history.
Follow the Heavy on Patriots Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors, and content!
But Patricia was more than that. He called the defensive plays from 2009-17, developing franchise players like Jerod Mayo, Dont’a Hightower, Devin McCourty, and many more along the way.
What a run it was for Patricia, let’s take a look back on his defining moments in New England.
In his first few seasons with the Patriots, Patricia shifted between positions on the offensive side of the ball. Beginning as an offensive assistant in 2004, he moved the assistant offensive line coach role the following year.
As an offensive lineman in college for Rensselaer, it was a natural fit for the young coach. But by 2006, he was promoted to linebackers’ coach and began reshaping the defense.
In 2007, when the Patriots when 16-0 in the regular season, it was Patricia who coached a linebacker corps with the likes of Junior Seau, Tedy Bruschi, Adalius Thomas, and Mike Vrabel.
When defensive coordinator Dean Pees departed in 2009, it was Patricia given the play-calling duties a couple seasons before his promotion to defensive coordinator in 2011. It was a sign of the respect the players and coaching staff had for Patricia long before he was a head coach.
“It’s Heavy at the Top”
In Super Bowl XLIX, Matt Patricia had a big decision to make – role with a struggling Kyle Arrington or take a chance with rookie Malcolm Butler in the second half. He chose the latter and Butler, with support from Brandon Browner, helped shut down the Seattle passing game for much of the second half. His biggest play came on a goal-line cover three, intercepting Russell Wilson to clinch the victory.
Patricia lit a fire under his defense early that season, as he details in the NFL Films documentary “Do Your Job”. Early in preseason, he described the feeling of holding a Lombardi Trophy and it being top-heavy.
With a defense filled with veterans, Patricia helped inspire a return to prominence for the Patriots with a big-time fourth-quarter performance in the Super Bowl.
The Greatest Comeback
Patricia’s defense needed to play lock-down most in the second half of Super Bowl LI. Down 28-3 midway through the third quarter, Patricia made a couple of defensive adjustments to stifle the Falcons offense the rest of the way.
The biggest play came on Hightower’s strip-sack of Matt Ryan, an adjustment quickly made by Patricia the play after Tevin Coleman got hurt. But he made a pair of late pass rush play calls that led to a sack and a holding penalty to knock Atlanta out of field goal range.
Without Patricia’s quick thinking and preparedness to make those judgment calls, the New England defense may not have been as much of a factor in that victory.
So this week’s preseason encounter gives New England a time to reflect on the job Matt Patricia did in his time with the Patriots, from a pair of strong second-half defensive performances in Super Bowls to working with legendary linebackers and everything between.