By HCR Staff | Aug. 9, 2018
Between now and the start of the 2018 season, Head Coach Ranking will provide a scouting report on all 32 NFL head coaches. Today, we’ll take a look at Seattle Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia.
Can a Bill Belichick protégé see sustained success? That will be the question looming over Patricia as he embarks on his head coaching career.
We think the answer is yes, but there will be some significant hurdles.
One will be how Patricia and holdover offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter work together. We feel Cooter is a promising young coach, but we also don’t believe he’s reached the level of positive attention he’s received. The Lions have struggled to run the ball under Cooter. Some blamed poor offensive line play — but ultimately Cooter was significantly responsible as well. The Lions never used a fullback and we expect that to change under Patricia.
It has been a long time since we’ve had the feeling that the Lions know how to win. Their victories rarely had the feel of a team that made the right judgments in crucial situations in order to close out games.
This is where we feel Patricia should do well — he’s seen a lot of winning up close. More importantly, he’s seen Bill Belichick teach players and coaches how to seize control of a game and close it out. Out of all the rookie head coaches, we expect Patricia to make the right judgment call more often than not — his risk assessment should be sharper than his fellow rookie head coaches.
We also expect Patricia to have a greater role in personnel than his fellow rookie head coaches. He has a preexisting close relationship with Lions GM Bob Quinn (another former Patriot), and we expect Patricia to look for players to fill very specific roles. There will be much end-of-the roster and practice squad churn under Patricia.
As for in-game decision-making, we feel he’ll be less exotic than his rookie peers. We fully expect the Lions to look somewhat like the Patriots in this regard — if the Lions score the first touchdown in a game, for example, we don’t expect him to go for a 2-point conversion, a la Mike Tomlin.
The Lions have given QB Matt Stafford a lot of money, but we’ll be interested in watching how Stafford handles a defensive-oriented head coach in Patricia. Our sense is that Stafford has not experienced much criticism during his tenure in Detroit — we expect Patricia to treat Stafford no differently than a backup receiver. We could be wrong, but Patricia has seen how Belichick tries to treat every player with the same critical eye.
Patricia is a highly intelligent, hard-working coach who has been around tremendous success — and for a long time. We expect him to do well. If we have any hesitation at all, it is because of his decision to keep holdover OC Cooter. If Patricia gives Cooter better boundaries, we expect the Lions to contend.