The Associated Press
DETROIT–The Detroit Lions hired Matt Patricia yesterday, doubling down on the franchise’s hope it can copy the New England Patriots’ formula for success.
The expected hiring of the defensive co-ordinator came a day after the Patriots lost to Philadelphia in the Super Bowl.
“This position comes with great responsibility, and I will commit every ounce of my energy to this football team, starting today,” Patricia said in a statement released by the team.
Lions’ general manager Bob Quinn made the move, reuniting with someone he worked with in New England for more than a decade.
“He has been preparing for this opportunity his entire career, and he’s ready for the responsibility and its challenges,” Quinn said.
The Lions plan to formally introduce him at a news conference tomorrow.
Quinn fired coach Jim Caldwell last month with a record eight games above .500 over four years and post-season appearances in 2016 and 2014.
The Lions went 9-7 this season and missed the playoffs.
Patricia was the Patriots’ defensive co-ordinator for six seasons, ending with his unit giving up 41 points and 538 yards to the Eagles in the Super Bowl.
“Obviously, I didn’t do a good enough job here with the defence,” he told reporters Sunday night.
The 43-year-old Patricia was on Bill Belichick’s staff for 14 seasons, overlapping with Quinn for many years.
Quinn was a part of the Patriots’ personnel department for 16 years before Detroit gave him his first shot to be an NFL GM.
He cuts a distinctive figure on the sideline, with a bushy beard, backward ball cap, and a pencil above his right ear.
Patricia earned an aeronautical engineering degree at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he played centre and guard, and later went to the University of Massachusetts to add a master’s degree in education to his résumé.
His climb includes coaching the defensive line at Amherst College.
Belichick hired Patricia in 2004 as a coaching assistant, was an assistant offensive line coach the next season, and worked his way up–leading linebackers and safeties before being promoted to defensive co-ordinator in 2012.
While the Lions also interviewed Mike Vrabel, who was hired by the Tennessee Titans, they seemed to want Patricia from the start of their coaching search.
The feeling apparently was mutual because Patricia may have turned down a shot to lead the N.Y. Giants after interviewing with the four-time, Super Bowl-winning franchise, to take on a challenge in a city that has experienced only one playoff win since winning the 1957 NFL title.