Former Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia was billed as a defensive genius first when he came to coach the team, but soon enough, the opposite was proven true on the field.
Offensively, despite his status as a former offensive lineman in college, Patricia wasn’t involved, handing over play calling duties to his offensive coordinators. In his time with the team, he didn’t have a defined or direct hand in things offensively. That might not matter to Bill Belichick as it relates to Patricia’s future, however.
The latest Lions news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Lions newsletter here!
Since joining the New England Patriots after his dismissal as Lions head coach, Patricia has been called a “senior football advisor” for the team. His future could have a new title, however, and it’s that of offensive coordinator. According to Jeff Howe of The Athletic, Patricia as well as Joe Judge could be in contention for the role this year, with things perhaps “trending toward” Patricia.
Dov Kleiman tweeted about the news:
Belichick routinely keeps things tight-lipped with regards to his staff assignments, and often times does not officially name a defensive coordinator, with multiple folks sharing duties of calls and game planning. With Josh McDaniels now off to coach in Las Vegas, that may be set to play out on the offensive side of things.
Patricia, of course, was first the Patriots’ defensive coordinator where he earned esteem and his shot as a head coach in the league. That shot was short-lived after he struggled in Detroit. Also notable is the fact that Matthew Stafford’s last few seasons in Detroit with Patricia as head coach were an abject failure. The team was conservative and struggled to have a consistent approach on the offensive side of the ball. That might not give folks much reason to believe in what Patricia could do with a young quarterback facing a critical developmental year like Mac Jones.
Either way, Lions fans will no doubt find this news hilarious given what played out with Patricia in Detroit. This time, they can sit back and watch what plays out if he indeed gets handed the reigns without any direct damage to them for once.
Recapping Patricia’s Lions Tenure
Patricia came to the Lions fresh off success in New England in 2018, and struggled out of the gate to capture the attention of the locker room. Those struggles never subsided in 2019 or 2020, and the coach was run out of town in embarrassing fashion after a total fail with the team.
Early in his career in Detroit, Patricia has helped the Lions stay in games for the most part but never helped get the team over the hump at closing. That’s perhaps his biggest wart so far as a boss, combined with a lousy defense that has not picked up the program whatsoever. Patricia’s program was defined by disorder within the team, a fact that frustrated many fans as well as the organization.
Both Patricia and Quinn got a mulligan on 2019 considering the rash of injuries that set the team back, and 2020 always seemed to be the make or break year. Things broke quickly. The duo was fired in November of 2021, with Patricia maintaining an ugly 13-29-1 mark with the Lions over three failed seasons with the team. Here’s a quick recap of the carnage on the field:
Patricia has been trying to rehabilitate his career back where it all began, and this year, he might once again be set to become one of Belichick’s trusted lieutenants.
Differences With Patricia, Dan Campbell Calling Plays
Some Lions fans will no doubt see the parallels here between what the team is choosing to do with Dan Campbell calling plays and the ambiguity over whether he or Ben Johnson will be putting together the game plan. There’s a major difference, though. Campbell has been on an offensive staff before having worked with Sean Payton as a tight ends coach in New Orleans. Additionally, he successfully helped an offensive revival in the second-half of the 2021-22 season after Anthony Lynn was phased out. That gives him some credo as a play caller. While Patricia had worked with the offensive line early in his tenure in Foxboro, he has worked more on the defensive side of the ball in his career more extensively and would be largely untested as an offensive coordinator.
Such a move would seemingly be a big-time gamble by Belichick, but given his legendary status, it’s one that he likely feels as if he is qualified to make. No matter what happens, it will be interesting to see what plays out with New England’s offense this year and who calls the plays.