Matt Patricia Opens up on Lions’ Hire of Cory Undlin

Matt Patricia

Getty Matt Patricia coaching the Lions.

The Detroit Lions made the move to hire little-known Cory Undlin as defensive coordinator last week, and it was something which caught a ton of people off guard.

One person, however, who wasn’t surprised about what the coach could bring was Matt Patricia as the team’s boss. When the move was made to hire Undlin, Patricia was on the forefront of the move, and recently explained just why he wanted to bring the respected position coach into the mix.

Joining Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network on his RapSheet + Friends podcast, Patricia was asked about the hire of Undlin and provided his first comments since the move was revealed. The coach explained that while their relationship dates back, he’s been very happy to watch Undlin’s growth from afar in recent years.

“Well Cory and I worked together a long time ago at New England. Started off together there and just really have had a very close friendship, bond, coaching, kind of bouncing ideas off each other,” Patricia said. “Certainly someone who I’ve respected a long time. His work ethic, what he’s been able to do throughout the course of his coaching career, most recently being in Philadelphia and what he’s was able to do there.”

Patricia saw Undlin win a Super Bowl with the Eagles, develop talent there and has followed his career from afar. This helped him to know what a good fit he would be within his own coaching staff for 2020.

“I knew that he’ll be a great addition to our staff in terms of how he thinks, how he looks at the game, the way that he coaches,” Patricia said. “Definitely one of those guys that a lot of people may not know about who aren’t in the coaching world, but people that coach in the NFL and coach defense know what a great coach he is, what a great person he is and how hard he works. His reputation kind of speaks for itself.”

While there isn’t said to be a plan as it relates to who will call the plays just yet, it’s clear that Patricia sees positives with how Undlin can work with the team’s defense and fit in with the squad.


Cory Undlin Biography

As Patricia referenced, Undlin broke into the league in 2004 with the New England Patriots as a coaching assistant, which is how he got to know his new boss and the other members of the staff. He joined the Cleveland Browns as an assistant coach from 2005-2008, coaching in a few roles there including assistant special teams coordinator and defensive backs coach.

From there, Undlin spent time with the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2009-2011 as a defensive assistant and a defensive backs coach. He moved on to the Denver Broncos as a defensive quality control coach and defensive backs coach until 2014. After that, he joined the Philadelphia Eagles as defensive backs coach, a post he held through the end of 2019.

Undlin’s only coordinating experience came at little-known California Lutheran in 2000-2001 just before he made the jump to Fresno State as a graduate assistant.

Over the years, Undlin has worked with a number of solid defensive backs in the NFL, which should give hope to the fact that he could do a solid job with those same players in Detroit.


Matt Patricia’s Experience With Cory Undlin

Obviously, for any position coach to get a major gig like this, the head coach would have to have a great relationship with him. That seems to be the case here with Undlin as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press pointed out. Patricia and Undlin had history together dating back to 2004 when they each worked with New England, and Patricia has referred to Undlin by name before when breaking down the Eagles.

Obviously, many folks will see this as some sort of nepotism, but it was obvious that whomever was going to coach the Detroit defense would have to have a history with Patricia.

At 48, Undlin has youth on his side as well as experience in coaching with some of the better defenses in the league. His work with the Eagles, although mocked by fans on the internet, is significant. Developing names such as Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod and Jalen Mills is significant. The Eagles also managed injuries well and were able to get multiple second and third string players to play up to potential. That development likely figured into the decision.

With a history between coaches, the hope is Undlin can come in and press the right buttons for a Lions defense that badly needs a reset ahead of 2020.

Based on his past work, Patricia seems to feel as if that will be exactly the case.

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