Matt Patricia

Matthew Stafford: There Were Teams I Didn’t Want To Play For

A few days ago we heard Matthew Stafford dish on his trade process, including about how he knew a move was possible prior to the 2020 season, and offer insights into a few of the potential destinations before the Rams eventually stepped up. Now Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press (subscription required) has published the second part of their interview, and there are more interesting nuggets to pore over.

There was a report that Stafford didn’t want to go to the Patriots, perhaps due to the presence of Matt Patricia. Albom asked him about that and while he didn’t specifically name New England, he did admit that there were certain teams he didn’t want to play for.

Well, what’s accurate is — and this is an incredible thing by them — I asked to go to a team that was ready to win a championship. And, you know, there were a few teams on that list. There were a few teams that were not on that list. And they were respectful of that and understood completely. I had thoughts and reasons for each one of them,” Stafford said while raving about how the Lions handled the situation.

It sounds like he saw New England struggle to field a competitive team in 2020, and wanted no part of it. Stafford also acknowledged that the Rams would’ve been his top choice all along, which was rumored to be the case. He did try to tamp down the speculation by speaking highly of Patricia.

He and I had a good relationship, no matter what anybody wants to say. I could go into his office and talk to him, he could get me on the phone whenever he needed to. I think we both grew in that relationship. I have a lot of respect for him and who he is, as a football coach and an unbelievable mind,” Stafford said of his former coach.

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This Date In Transactions History: Lions Hire Matt Patricia

In 2017, Jim Caldwell led the Lions to their third winning campaign in four seasons. It wasn’t enough to save his job. The Lions fired Caldwell and replaced him with Patriots defensive guru Matt Patricia, three years ago today. 

Patricia had lots of hype heading into this cycle. He also had a longstanding relationship with Detroit GM Bob Quinn, who previously worked in New England. After working his way up through the Pats’ ranks, Patricia served as their DC for six seasons. During that period, the Patriots’ defense never ranked lower than tenth in points allowed. And, of course, his final day with the team nearly ended in yet another Super Bowl ring, before Nick Foles got in the way.

It seems like just yesterday that Patricia was regarded as the perfect fit. It’s a reminder of how quickly things can change in the NFL. After a combined 13-29 record and an ugly Thanksgiving Day loss, the Lions sent the 46-year-old packing. Now, he’s going back to New England to serve in multiple assistant coaching roles on Bill Belichick‘s staff. Meanwhile, the Lions are moving forward with Dan Campbell, who will have Jared Goff leading his offense.

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Patriots To Bring Back Matt Patricia

Weeks after his foray into the head coaching world ended after three playoff-less seasons in Detroit, Matt Patricia found a familiar landing spot. The Patriots are bringing him back to join their staff, Jim McBride of the Boston Globe reports.

The longtime Patriots defensive coordinator will serve in a variety of roles, per McBride and ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler (on Twitter). The Pats transitioned to Brian Flores as their top defensive assistant following Patricia’s 2018 exit and have seen Jerod Mayo rise into that role since. Patricia, however, served as New England’s DC for six years and spent his entire NFL coaching career with the franchise prior to relocating to Michigan three years ago.

Patricia will follow Josh McDaniels in trekking back to the Patriots after an HC tenure did not work out. McDaniels returned to the Pats during the 2011 playoffs, ahead of a divisional-round game against the team that fired him (the Broncos), and resumed OC duties in 2012. Patricia will rejoin a Patriots defensive staff that has gotten younger since his exit.

Patricia, 46, became the latest Bill Belichick assistant to struggle away from his mentor. The Lions went 13-29 under his watch and fired him after a Thanksgiving Day blowout loss. After coaching with the Patriots from 2004-17, he will have a chance to reboot his career and provide their staff with extensive experience.

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Lions Fire Bob Quinn, Matt Patricia

Two days after the Lions endured a Thanksgiving blowout loss, they are making major changes. The organization announced the firings of Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn on Saturday. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will take over as interim head coach, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. This will be Bevell’s first HC opportunity.

This move is certainly not unexpected, with the Lions on track to miss the playoffs for a fourth straight season. Ownership gave Quinn and Patricia a playoffs-or-bust-themed directive for 2020. After being routed by the Panthers and Texans over the past two weeks, the Lions are well off course.

Patricia’s ouster marks a second former Bill Belichick assistant to be fired in-season. Patricia coached against interim Texans HC Romeo Crennel on Thursday, doing so weeks after Houston canned Bill O’Brien. Patricia did not come especially close to achieving the kind of success O’Brien did and will not finish his third season. The former Patriots DC’s Lions tenure will wrap with a 13-29-1 record.

Quinn determined Jim Caldwell‘s back-to-back 9-7 seasons were not worthy of a fifth year, leading to the former Pats executive bringing in his former coworker. Although the Lions’ swoon last season could be attributed to Matthew Stafford‘s midseason injury, they have no such excuse this year. Stafford has started throughout, and the Lions will enter Week 13 at 4-7. Since Patricia’s hire, the Lions have blown an NFL-most 18 fourth-quarter leads, as Ed Werder of ESPN.com notes (via Twitter).

While Caldwell’s Lions could not build on their 11-5 2014 season, Patricia’s teams did not come close to a worthwhile follow-up effort. The longtime NFL defensive coach has seen his third Detroit defense drop to 30th in points allowed. The regression was not especially steep, with the Lions ranking 28th in defensive DVOA in 2018 and ’19.

Quinn’s firing makes for an interesting NFL GM landscape. Three jobs — in Atlanta, Detroit and Houston — are available before December. Quinn took over for Martin Mayhew in 2016; the Lions did not win 10 games in a season during his tenure.

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Longest-Tenured Head Coaches In The NFL

Things move fast in today’s NFL and the old adage of “coaches are hired to be fired” has seemingly never been more true. For the most part, teams change their coaches like they change their underwear. 

A head coach can take his team to the Super Bowl, or win the Super Bowl, or win multiple Super Bowls, but they’re never immune to scrutiny. Just ask Tom Coughlin, who captured his second ring with the Giants after the 2011 season, only to receive his pink slip after the 2015 campaign.

There are also exceptions. Just look at Bill Belichick, who just wrapped up his 20th season at the helm in New England. You’ll also see a few others on this list, but, for the most part, most of today’s NFL head coaches are relatively new to their respective clubs. And, history dictates that many of them will be elsewhere when we check in on this list in 2022.

Over one-third (12) of the NFL’s head coaches have coached no more than one season with their respective teams. Meanwhile, less than half (15) have been with their current clubs for more than three years. It seems like just yesterday that the Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury, right? It sort of was – Kingsbury signed on with the Cardinals in January of 2019. Today, he’s practically a veteran.

Here’s the list of the current head coaches in the NFL, ordered by tenure, along with their respective start dates:

  1. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000
  2. Sean Payton (New Orleans Saints): January 18, 2006
  3. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers): January 27, 2007
  4. John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens): January 19, 2008
  5. Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks): January 9, 2010
  6. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs): January 4, 2013
  7. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 2, 2014
  8. Mike Zimmer (Minnesota Vikings): January 15, 2014
  9. Dan Quinn (Atlanta Falcons): February 2, 2015
  10. Doug Pederson (Philadelphia Eagles): January 18, 2016
  11. Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills): January 11, 2017
  12. Doug Marrone (Jacksonville Jaguars): December 19, 2016 (interim; permanent since 2017)
  13. Anthony Lynn (Los Angeles Chargers): January 12, 2017
  14. Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams): January 12, 2017
  15. Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers): February 6, 2017
  16. Matt Nagy (Chicago Bears): January 7, 2018
  17. Matt Patricia (Detroit Lions): February 5, 2018
  18. Frank Reich (Indianapolis Colts): February 11, 2018
  19. Jon Gruden (Las Vegas Raiders): January 6, 2018
  20. Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans): January 20, 2018
  21. Kliff Kingsbury (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2019
  22. Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals): February 4, 2019
  23. Vic Fangio (Denver Broncos): January 10, 2019
  24. Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers): January 8, 2019
  25. Brian Flores (Miami Dolphins): February 4, 2019
  26. Adam Gase (New York Jets): January 11, 2019
  27. Bruce Arians (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 8, 2019
  28. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020
  29. Matt Rhule (Carolina Panthers): January 7, 2020
  30. Mike McCarthy (Dallas Cowboys): January 7, 2020
  31. Joe Judge (New York Giants): January 8, 2020
  32. Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland Browns): January 13, 2020

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CB Rumors: Slay, Lions, Harris, Trufant

Speaking to WJR-AM in Detroit following his trade from the Lions to the Eagles, cornerback Darius Slay didn’t hold back on his substandard connection with Lions head coach Matt Patricia. Slay, who’d been in Detroit since 2013, said Patricia told him he shouldn’t have been working out with fellow corners like Richard Sherman and Aqib Talib because those players are “elite” while Slay is simply “good,” per Justin Rogers of the Detroit News (all Twitter links).

Slay also indicated his relationship with Patricia was “destroyed” in 2018, adding that he didn’t respect Patricia as a person. Clearly, the nature of Slay’s dissatisfaction played a large role in Detroit’s decision, but as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (video link), the Lions also had no interest in handing Slay another new deal after inking him to a four-year, $48MM extension in 2016. Philadelphia, meanwhile, gave Slay a three-year, $50MM pact after acquiring him.

Here’s more on the cornerback circuit:

  • Veteran cornerback Chris Harris says he turned down a three-year offer from the Raiders before inking a two-year, $20MM deal with the Chargers, tweets Mike Klis of 9News. Per Harris, he simply didn’t feel “comfortable” with the Raiders, and preferred to join a Chargers defense that already includes stalwarts like Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, Casey Hayward, and Derwin James. Harris, 30, also attracted interest from teams like the Saints, Jets, Eagles, and says he picked up “tons” of one-year offers before deciding on Los Angeles.
  • After losing Harris, the Broncos are looking into adding another cornerback, according to Troy Renck of Denver7 (Twitter link). Denver acquired A.J. Bouye from the Jaguars earlier this month to pair with incumbent Bryce Callahan, but the club could still use another defensive back, either via free agency or the draft. Jimmy Smith, Logan Ryan, Nickell Robey-Coleman, and Ronald Darby are among the top corners still remaining on the open market.
  • The Falcons officially designated cornerback Desmond Trufant as a post-June 1 release. That move will allow Atlanta to spread Trufant’s dead money out over both the 2020 and 2021 seasons. Trufant, of course, has already found a new home, landing a two-year, $21MM deal with the Lions.

Lions To Retain Matt Patricia, GM Bob Quinn For 2020

2019 has obviously been a very disappointing season for the Lions, but they aren’t going to be shaking things up too much this offseason. Both head coach Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn will return next season, owner Martha Ford told reporters on Tuesday. Patricia is in his second year as head coach after previously serving as New England’s defensive coordinator. Quinn has been the GM since 2016, and also came over from the Patriots.

Feb 28, 2018; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia speaks to the media during the 2018 NFL Combine at the Indianapolis Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Ford also told reporters that the expectation is the Lions will compete for a playoff spot next year, essentially saying outright that a repeat performance won’t be tolerated. Ford also shot down rumors that the family was considering selling the team. All that being said, that doesn’t mean everybody is going to make it through. “Other staff changes are possible” still, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. The defense has been a glaring weakness, and it certainly wouldn’t be surprising if defensive Paul Pasqualoni found himself out of a job at the end of the season.

In recent weeks there had been a lot of speculation about Patricia’s job status and talk that he could get fired, but he never seemed too worried and now we know why. It seems likely that Patricia and Quinn’s futures will now be tied together, and if one of them is given the boot after next season then they both will be. Detroit got off to a hot start this season with a 2-0-1 record, but things fell apart rapidly.

They came within a play of beating the Chiefs and moving to 3-0-1 the following week, but came up short. A one-point loss to the Packers followed, and then things spiraled out of control. All told, they’ve now lost ten of their last 11 games. They’ve suffered a rash of injuries, most notably to quarterback Matthew Stafford. Stafford has missed the past six games, and they’ve now gone from Jeff Driskel to undrafted rookie David Blough under center.

Clearly ownership believes the injuries were to blame for the disaster of a season, and they’ll get at least one more chance to run it back. Fortunately for Quinn and Patricia, they’ll have a high draft pick at their disposal. There was a local media report that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos had interest in buying the Lions, but the franchise shot that down emphatically, per Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com.

“We’ve been approached about interest in buying the team, but there’s been no serious discussions,” team president Rod Wood said. “And the Ford family plans to own the team and there’s [succession] plans in place.” We heard last month that Bezos was interested in buying a team, but it apparently won’t be the Lions.

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Extra Points: Ebron, Lions, Renfrow

The Eric Ebron story took another twist this week, as his camp responded to the recent reports of disconnect between the tight end and the Colts. Soon after Ebron was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury, we heard that the Colts weren’t too happy with how everything played out. Indy’s head coach Frank Reich seemed to dispute Ebron’s account that the team was well-aware of his ankle issue, and said he had no idea anything was wrong. Ebron’s camp is now pushing back, with a source close to the UNC product telling Ian Rapoport of NFL Network that Reich “should not have been surprised” (Twitter link).

The source added that Ebron informed the Colts of his ankle issue prior to the season, and that he “took toradol shots for the injury before almost every game he played.” The implication from Indianapolis seemed to be that Ebron was essentially choosing to save himself for his impending free agency, and his camp obviously isn’t pleased with that narrative. As Stephen Holder of The Athletic summarizes in a tweet, this means that Reich is either “blatantly lying when he said he was blind sided,” or Ebron “was able to practice most of the season on a terribly painful ankle.” It’ll be interesting to see if this under the radar controversy impacts Ebron’s market this spring. The tenth overall pick of the 2014 draft had a huge first year in Indy, but had been a bit of a disappointment this season before going on IR. Given the sudden animosity between the two sides, it seems likely that he isn’t back with the Colts in 2020.

Here’s more from around the league on a quiet Saturday night:

  • It doesn’t look like Matthew Stafford is going to play for the Lions again in 2019, so his back injury is obviously legitimate. However, the league has taken issue with how Detroit went about reporting it. Stafford was a surprise scratch late in the week leading up to the team’s game against the Bears back on November 10th, and the league has determined the team was trying to gain a competitive advantage by being coy with the info. The league office has fined the organization $75K, head coach Matt Patricia $25K, and GM Bob Quinn $10K, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link).
  • When Raiders rookie receiver Hunter Renfrow went down with a rib injury and a punctured lung a couple of weeks ago, it initially looked like he’d miss the rest of the season. However, that might not be the case, per Scott Bair of NBC Sports. Renfrow hasn’t been placed on IR, and the team is holding out hope he’ll be able to return toward the end of the year. “We’re hopeful that he could return for the last game or two,” Oakland head coach Jon Gruden said, per Bair. Renfrow had really started to heat up before going down, so he would provide a big boost. The Raiders have gotten blown out in two straight games, but are still right in the thick of a very muddled AFC wildcard race at 6-6. Whether or not they’re still in the hunt for a playoff spot in the final week or two will likely determine whether or not they bring the Clemson product back.

Lions Notes: Patricia, Pasqualoni, Quinn

The Lions suffered a bad loss to the now 2-9 Redskins on Sunday, which has led to a great deal of speculation as to the future of the organization’s leaders. Here’s the latest from the Motor City:

  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports suggested that “there could be some changes afoot” if the Lions do not have a strong performance against the division-rival Bears on Thanksgiving (Twitter link via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press). La Canfora made those remarks during the CBS Postgame Show and did not elaborate, but it seems that a shakeup to head coach Matt Patricia‘s staff could be in the cards, even if Patricia himself is safe at least until the end of the 2019 season.
  • Speaking of Patricia, the second-year HC was oddly evasive when asked who was calling the defensive plays against the Redskins, as Birkett writes in a full-length piece. It appeared that Patricia was calling the plays, and though he gave defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni a vote of confidence as a play-caller last month, the head coach himself appears to have taken the reins and is simply trying to refrain from confirming that publicly. In any event, the defense — which has Patricia’s fingerprints all over it — ranks near the bottom of the league in most major categories, and that’s not a good omen for Patricia’s future.
  • The club may not fire the former Patriots DC during the season, as his players still seem to play hard for him and the roster has been hit hard by injury, but as Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com writes, Lions ownership has to consider all options this offseason. The team could fire Patricia, GM Bob Quinn, or both, as neither man has done much to inspire confidence that they are the right people to lead the Lions on a long-term basis.
  • Speculatively, given Pasqualoni’s apparently diminished role, the changes that La Canfora references above could mean that Pasqualoni is shown the door if the Lions fail to perform well against Chicago.
  • Though the Lions’ playoff hopes are long gone, QB Matthew Stafford still wants to return to the field this year.

Extra Points: Gurley, Longacre, CBA

In his first day on the field at Rams training camp, Todd Gurley looked like vintage Gurley, The Athletic’s Vincent Bonsignore writes.

The All-Pro back looked like his old self early, showing an ability put plenty of weight on his knee and cut without any apparent issue. That knee, of course, underwent reconstructive surgery in college and gave him issues down the stretch in 2018, leading to C.J. Anderson‘s breakout stint in the playoffs.

As Bonsignore writes, that he looked good doesn’t mean much at this point. It’s all about getting him on the field and keeping him there over the course of a 16-game season. The Rams will be sure to take it easy with Gurley, but this is a great first step for one of the league’s most dynamic playmakers.

A healthy Gurley, who led the league in rushing touchdowns for a second consecutive season in 2018, would make the reigning NFC champions the conference’s favorites once again thanks to its loaded offense and talent-rich defense.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Buccaneers safety Orion Stewart was carted off the field on Sunday with an apparent serious right knee injury, Eduardo Encina of the Tampa Bay Times writes. The safety was covering Cameron Brate when their legs tangled, leading Stewart to come down awkwardly. A free agent acquisition in 2019, Stewart was working with the Bucs’ second unit.
  • Colts defensive end Jabaal Sheard suffered a knee injury in training camp and is expected to “miss some time,” Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio writes. Just how long that “some time” is remains unclear, but the defensive end didn’t return to practice on Friday due to swelling and soreness. Colts head coach Frank Reich said the injury isn’t season-ending.
  • Just four days after the Cardinals signed linebacker Matt Longacre, the team released him on Sunday, Florio writes. The move comes just a day after the team activated Brooks Reed from the physically unable to perform list. In 2018, Longacre appeared in 13 games with the Rams, recording one sack and 17 tackles.
  • Lions defensive lineman Mike Daniels said he received interest from 13 teams but decided to join Detroit because he wanted to play for head coach Matt Patricia, Florio writes. Though the pair have never worked together before, Daniels called the coach “a genius.”
  • Originally, a meeting was to be held on Monday to discuss the Collective Bargaining Agreement between owners and the NFLPA. That will no longer take place, as the meeting has been rescheduled for early August, Florio writes.