Matt Patricia

NFC North Notes: Lions, Packers, Patricia

The Lions are expected to once again use a rotation at running back instead of committing to one starter, head coach Matt Patricia told reporters, including Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “I think for us it all about competition, but when we get into the gameplan mode and we actually have our team and we are working against a particular opponent, then it becomes into a matchup situation,” said Patricia, who is familiar with deploying a running back stable after working for the Patriots until this spring. Detroit signed veteran LeGarrette Blount to a one-year deal last month, adding him to a crop that also includes Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, Zach Zenner, and Dwayne Washington, and Birkett reports the club is expected to select another running back in the upcoming draft.

Here’s more out of the NFC North:

  • Packers wideout Trevor Davis was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport on Sunday after making a joke about carrying a bomb, according to a report from TMZ Sports. Davis was reportedly checking in when he facetiously asked his girlfriend if she remembered to “pack the explosives,” a question which unsurprisingly wasn’t met with laughter by airport staff. The 24-year-old Davis was subsequently arrested and charged with a misdemeanor of making a bomb threat, and is now facing a May 3 court date, per Tom Schad of USA Today. Davis, a fifth-round pick in the 2016 draft, will compete to earn a spot on the back end of Green Bay’s wide receiver depth chart.
  • Although Lions general manager Bob Quinn kept former head coach Jim Caldwell in place from 2016-17, Quinn had been eyeing Patricia for some time, as Birkett writes in a separate piece“I had heard about Matt from Bob for two years before we had the chance to meet and as I think I told him recently, I think he undersold him, and he was selling him,” team president Rod Wood said. “So I think the relationship is strong, the language they speak, the trust. The ability I think to build the team through kind of one long-term vision of what we’re going to be about…” Quinn and Patricia overlapped in New England from 2004-15, and both are now signed through 2022 in Detroit.
  • In case you missed it, the Bears declined to match a two-year, $9.6MM offer sheet for wide receiver Cameron Meredith and thus lost him to the Saints. Because Chicago only tendered Meredith at the original round level, the club won’t receive any compensation as Meredith heads to New Orleans. The Bears had the option of tendering Meredith at the second-round level at a cost of $2.914MM, only ~$1MM more than the original round price of $1.907MM.

Paul Pasqualoni To Call Lions’ Defensive Plays

Matt Patricia has called defensive plays for the past eight years, doing so in New England during two seasons before he became the Patriots’ DC. But he will cede that responsibility in his first season with the Lions.

Detroit’s new head coach will delegate play-calling duties to new Lions DC Paul Pasqualoni, Patricia said (via Kyle Meinke of MLive.com).

While Patricia will still weigh in on defensive and offensive plays at times, the primary responsibilities for defensive calls will go to Pasqualoni. An on-and-off NFL assistant over the past 13 years whose primary connection to Patricia was at Syracuse in the early 2000s, Pasqualoni initially hired Patricia as a graduate assistant when he was the program’s head coach. He’ll now receive his biggest NFL assignment since 2010.

Coach Pasqualoni will be calling the defense, and he’ll be running it from that standpoint,” Patricia said this week. “In general, I’ll call whatever I need to offensively, defensively or special teams. But yeah, he’ll be in charge.”

The 68-year-old assistant coached Boston College’s defensive line over the past two seasons and served as an NFL DC from 2008-10, with the Dolphins and Cowboys. The Lions ranked 19th in defensive DVOA in Teryl Austin‘s final season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Vikings, Patricia, Humphrey

New Vikings OC John DeFilippo is viewed as a rising star in the coaching world, and Minnesota is obviously high on the former Eagles quarterbacks coach, as it targeted DeFilippo as soon as former OC Pat Shurmur left for the Giants’ head coaching job. The Vikings were also willing to wait for Philadelphia’s season to be over before naming Shurmur’s replacement, which shows just how much they liked DeFilippo. Despite the hire, though, the Vikings denied the Giants’ request to interview Minnesota quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski for the New York OC gig, and Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL Radio suggests that there are two reasons for that (Twitter link). Obviously, the Vikings value Stefanski and want him around in 2018, but the team also thinks there is a good chance DeFilippo could get his own head coaching opportunity in 2019, so Minnesota views Stefanski as a potential replacement (after all, the Vikes did interview Stefanski for the OC position this year before hiring DeFilippo). However, Marvez reports that Stefanski only has one year left on his current contract, so he could become a coaching free agent in 2019.

Now for more from the league’s North divisions:

  • The Bears‘ offensive line will be one of their biggest priorities this offseason, and Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune says the team could use one of its top two picks in this year’s draft on an O-lineman. Of course, Chicago will also have to decide what it wants to do with guard Josh Sitton, who has a club option worth $8MM for 2018 (the Bears have until March 9 to exercise that option, and if they do not, Sitton will become a UFA). It is a tough call; on the one hand, Sitton is an accomplished player whose departure will make the team’s O-line situation even more dire, but on the other hand, he is an aging veteran and, if the Bears decline the option, Sitton will count only $666K against the cap in 2018. Biggs does not give an indication as to which way Chicago is leaning at this point.
  • In a piece that is well worth a read, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press chronicles Matt Patricia‘s rise from a low-level assistant in New England to Lions head coach, a rise that was accelerated in 2012 when Detroit GM Bob Quinn — then the director of pro scouting with the Patriots — heard Patricia deliver a poignant speech to New England coaches and players about the recently-deceased Junior Seau.
  • Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey, whom the team selected in the first round of last year’s draft, was recently arrested for stealing a $15 phone charger, as Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com writes. Humphrey has a preliminary hearing scheduled for March 1 in Tuscaloosa County District Court, at which time a judge will determine whether to dismiss the case or to proceed. Humphrey turned in a strong rookie campaign, and Baltimore will rely on him heavily in 2018.

Lions Hire Matt Patricia As Head Coach

As expected, the Lions made it official on Monday in announcing Matt Patricia will be their next head coach. Now that the 2017 season is over, the two teams who waited for the Patriots’ season to end are free to announce agreements.

This hire has been expected for more than three weeks, and the longtime New England DC can begin to fully assemble his first Detroit staff.

When we launched the search for our next head coach, I wanted to find a leader that could take us to the next level and I am confident we have found that in Matt Patricia,” Lions GM Bob Quinn said. “He has been preparing for this opportunity his entire career, and he’s ready for the responsibility and its challenges.

Matt is driven to succeed, has extreme passion for the game and excels in preparation. He embodies the same hard-working, blue-collar attributes that represent our organization and the great City of Detroit.”

Patricia served as Patriots DC for six seasons but spent 14 years with the franchise, going straight from being a Syracuse graduate assistant to working on Bill Belichick‘s staff. The 43-year-old Patricia is coming off his first Super Bowl defeat as Pats DC, but he served on staff for six of the eight Super Bowls in the Belichick era.

The Lions are expected to retain OC Jim Bob Cooter and are not certain to hire a defensive coordinator, with Patricia expected to run that unit. They will have an entirely new defensive staff regardless.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Giants’ Pat Shurmur Hire

A difference between how Pat Shurmur approached his Giants interview helped land him the job. The former Vikings OC conducted his Giants meeting in a fashion that left no doubt the Giants were his first choice, which is something, per Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv, team management couldn’t see in Josh McDaniels or Matt Patricia.

While Vacchiano reports some in the Giants’ organization preferred the two Patriots coordinators to Shurmur “until the very end,” he notes Shurmur left “by far” the strongest first impression on the Giants of the candidates summoned. One of the reasons management was sold on Shurmur was his desire to land the Giants’ job was far more evident than the other finalists’. Vacchiano writes McDaniels appeared to be more interested in the Colts’ job because of Andrew Luck‘s presence, and Patricia’s Lions connection turned out to be very real.

Multiple sources informed Vacchiano that Shurmur was at one point viewed as the favorite in Arizona and that his personality would work better there, but the former Browns coach, per the Giants, was intent on securing the New York job.

Shurmur’s interview, one John Mara ranked as arguably the best he’s seen, resulted in him edging the New England assistants after they’d been viewed as previous favorites. Shurmur also made the strongest connection with Dave Gettleman of the six candidates interviewed, which is interesting given Steve Wilks‘ history with the new Giants GM. Vacchiano notes Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin did not see eye to eye on key components of the team in their final years together, with a specific disagreement involving the team’s offensive line approach, and adds Mara appeared to indicate Reese and Ben McAdoo weren’t meshing as well as they’d hoped to.

Mara indicated a head coach/GM partnership was critical here, and Shurmur — who made a point of saying how much stock he places in repairing the Giants’ offensive front — appears to be in stride with Gettleman at this point.

Mara previously said he wanted a head coach with previous experience leading a team, and Vacchiano reports Shurmur was “much more willing” to accept his wrongdoings from his first job (with the 2011-12 Browns) than McDaniels (fired midway through his second Broncos season in 2010) was. Shurmur made clear he will hire an offensive coordinator, identifying that as a mistake from his first Cleveland campaign. The Giants ultimately ruled out Wilks because of his lack of experience.

Shurmur also spoke with Eli Manning on the phone on Wednesday from the Senior Bowl and then sat down with the franchise passer in the Giants’ cafeteria on Friday, Paul Schwartz of the New York Post reports. Considering Gettleman’s praise for Manning, and what Shurmur offered about the quarterback’s future at his press conference, it’s starting to look like a strong bet he will be back in New York for his age-37 season.

Schwartz writes Shurmur’s approach with Manning differs from Coughlin’s with Kerry Collins, whom the Giants replaced with Manning in 2004. Coughlin ignored Collins when they saw each other at the facility during the months his and Collins’ tenures overlapped in ’04, Schwartz recalls.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Notes: Falcons, McDaniels, Titans

The Falcons were set to add Darrell Bevell and Ken Dorsey to their quarterbacks coach interview list, but they might not have gotten around to it by the time they arrived at their decision. Greg Knapp will replace Bush Hamdan as Atlanta’s QBs coach, Alex Marvez of Sporting News reports. The 54-year-old Knapp did not coach in the NFL last season and spent the previous four years coaching the Broncos’ quarterbacks.

Knapp will return to Atlanta in a different capacity; he was the Falcons’ offensive coordinator from 2004-06. Running the most successful of the Michael Vick offenses, Knapp also was OC with the 49ers, Raiders (two stints) and Seahawks. The one-season stay in Seattle (2009) overlapped with Dan Quinn, who was the Seahawks’ defensive line coach from 2009-10. Knapp’s Broncos work may look a bit better now considering how far their quarterback play fell this season, and the Falcons are hoping he can help return Matt Ryan to top-tier status after a down year.

Here’s the latest from the coaching circuit.

  • Mike Vrabel‘s Titans deal is a five-year agreement, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). This is a noticeably bigger commitment to a first-time HC than the franchise made to Mike Mularkey, who was then set for his third go-round as a head coach. Mularkey received a three-year commitment in 2016.
  • Josh McDaniels was only seriously interested in the Colts and Giants‘ jobs, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe notes, adding that the Titans could have had a shot at the Patriots’ OC had they fired Mularkey late in what was an inconsistent regular season. McDaniels and Jon Robinson worked together in New England.
  • Volin adds McDaniels is not scared off by Andrew Luck‘s recent health history despite the Colts having redshirted their cornerstone performer this season. Luck still doesn’t have a firm timetable to return, but McDaniels signing on points to confidence he will be back come 2018.
  • Matt Patricia is not certain to hire a defensive coordinator with the Lions, Volin notes. Patricia will run the Lions’ defense regardless. This was the job he was connected to throughout the offseason, and despite reports emerging the Giants had him among their finalists, Volin notes that wasn’t the case. McDaniels and Pat Shurmur are believed to be the only HC candidates the Giants were considering, per Volin.
  • Paul Guenther‘s deal as Raiders DC is a four-year pact, Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. The Bengals made a “lucrative” offer to try to keep Guenther in his previous position after his contract expired, but after 15 seasons in Cincinnati, the veteran assistant wanted to work with Jon Gruden. Guenther said the Raiders will be running “80 to 90 percent” of what the Vikings run under Mike Zimmer, so the Raiders will have a firmer commitment to the 4-3 than in years past.
  • Josh McDaniels may well look to bring his younger brother with him to Indianapolis, Volin writes. The 37-year-old Ben McDaniels worked as a Bears offensive assistant for the past two seasons. He also served in that role for the 2009 Broncos before Josh McDaniels promoted him to quarterbacks coach in 2010, so it appears likely the brothers will reunite with the Colts soon.
  • The Titans will lose wide receivers coach Frisman Jackson to the college ranks. Jackson served as Tennessee’s wideouts coach for just one season, and he’ll take over the same job at Baylor, Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com reports. The former NFL wideout was a college receivers coach from 2008-16.

Latest On Lions’ Head Coaching Search

We’ve been hearing for several weeks that the Lions are set to make Matt Patricia their next head coach, and a report tonight from Albert Breer backs this sentiment. Breer tweets that the Lions have been informing other candidates that they’ve been eliminated from contention for the gig, and the organization is moving forward with the assumption that Patricia will be their head coach once the Patriots’ season ends.

Matt PatriciaDespite rumblings that Patricia had more interest in the Giants head coaching gig, reports from this morning indicated that Patricia would ultimately accept the Lions job. There have been whispers that Patricia would land in Detroit since the beginning of January, and there were even rumors that he could take the Lions job before the team fired former coach Jim Caldwell.

The Patriots defensive coordinator seems to be a natural fit for the Lions, especially when you consider his relationship with general manager Bob Quinn (who previously worked in New England). After working his way up through the Patriots coaching staff, Patricia was named defensive coordinator back in 2012. In six seasons in the role, the Patriots’ defense has never ranked lower than tenth in points allowed.

Our Head Coaching Tracker shows that Patricia was only one of many candidates to be interviewed by the Lions. The organization also reached out to 2017 coordinators Teryl Austin and Jim Bob Cooter, Packers assistant head coach Winston Moss, Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, and Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Matt Patricia Expected To Become Lions’ HC

This sounds familiar. Although Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia was said to prefer the Giants’ head coaching job to the Lions’, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter tweets that Patricia is expected to become the Lions’ next head coach, as we heard last week.

Matt Patricia

Patricia, whose defense was quite impressive in New England’s win over the Titans last night, has been a hot head coaching candidate for several years now thanks to his overall body of work with the Pats. Even before the Lions parted ways with former head coach Jim Caldwell, there were plenty of reports linking Patricia to Detroit, as he has a preexisting relationship with Lions GM Bob Quinn stemming from Quinn’s tenure with the Patriots.

And on January 6, it was reported that the Lions would indeed hire Patricia. Just several days later, however, Peter King of TheMMQB.com indicated that Patricia preferred the Giants to the Lions, which threw something of a wrench into this season’s coaching carousel. But Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that his understanding all along has been that Patricia would accept the Lions’ job. Indeed, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes, Detroit would have moved on to other candidates if it did not believe Patricia was coming to the Motor City.

Of course, as New England’s season is not yet over, the Lions and Patricia will have to wait to make things official. Birkett adds (via Twitter) that Patricia is likely to retain Detroit’s incumbent offensive coordinator, Jim Bob Cooter.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Rumors: Flores, Giants, Bears

Although finalists have emerged in the Giants and Colts’ HC searches, the Cardinals may be taking a more methodical approach. And despite Brian Flores lacking the coordinator experience others in the mix for the Arizona job do, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets the Patriots’ linebackers coach is very much a live candidate for the job. The Cardinals have interviewed Flores, incumbent DC James Bettcher, Pats DC Matt Patricia, Eagles DC Jim Schwartz, Vikings OC Pat Shurmur, Panthers DC Steve Wilks, Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak and Falcons ST coordinator Keith Armstrong. This franchise has cast the widest net yet in this year’s coaching carousel, so determining frontrunner status is a bit more complicated here than it is in the three other searches. Patricia’s name has been linked as a finalist with the Lions and Giants, however.

Here’s the latest from the coaching ranks:

  • With four HC vacancies remaining and the Giants reportedly identifying three finalists — Patricia, Shurmur and Josh McDaniels — the franchise might need a sleeper candidate if the aforementioned trio each takes a job elsewhere, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes the thinking is Schwartz is that mystery choice. The Giants requested an interview with the former Lions coach, but the sides couldn’t get one scheduled.
  • Patricia doesn’t plan on letting it slip which way he’s leaning until after the Patriots‘ season concludes, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets (video link). The Patriots returning to the Super Bowl could put the Giants and Lions to difficult decisions, if Patricia indeed does not decide until season’s end. Rapoport speculates the Lions as perhaps a slight favorite here. The Lions may be going all-in on Patricia, Florio writes, to the point it’s unclear whom Detroit would tab if Patricia chose the Giants.
  • Chris Tabor will return to the Bears as their special teams coordinator, the team announced. Tabor coached the Browns’ ST units for the past seven seasons but prior to that served as Chicago’s assistant ST coordinator from 2008-10. Tabor made it through four coaching regimes in Cleveland, remaining on staff through the Pat Shurmur, Rob Chudzinski, Mike Pettine and Hue Jackson runs.
  • Brock Olivo‘s first crack as a special teams coordinator did not go well, with the Broncos firing him after one season. But the Browns interviewed Olivo for the ST job open after the team let Tabor leave, Mike Klis of 9News tweets.
  • The Bears will hire Kevin Gilbride Jr. to coach their tight ends. The 39-year-old son of the retired OC, Gilbride coached under his father from 2010-13 and stayed on as Giants tight ends coach the past four seasons.

Latest On The Giants’ HC Search

The Giants have interviewed six candidates for their vacant head coach position and could start to be moving more quickly on completing their search in the next week. Of the six coaches they’ve interviewed, it appears that Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and Patriots’ coordinators Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia are the favorites to land the position, according to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.

Pat Shurmur (vertical)

All three candidates have garnered interest from around football and should either the Patriots or Vikings be eliminated from the playoffs this weekend, Vacchiano thinks that the “Giants could have a new coach in place by next week”. If both teams take care of business at home in the Divisional Round, the process will likely extend another two weeks as the Giants management tries to figure out a way to get one last meeting with their top choice, whoever that may be.

Shurmur and McDaniels look like natural fits for the job as they have an offensive background and previous head coaching experience. The team has been rumored to want experience in whoever they hire and could also want someone who has the ability to get the most out of a young quarterback, should they choose to draft either Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen with the number two overall selection in April’s draft. However, Patricia clearly impressed in his initial interview enough to have the Giants move away from their original checklist.

In a wrinkle to Vacchiano’s story, there could be another sleeper candidate lurking behind the scenes, reports Tom Rock and Bob Glauber of Newsday. A source told the writers that should all three candidates land other positions with the likes of Arizona, Detroit and Indianapolis, the team has a backup plan. While no names were given for who that prospective fourth coach could be, Rock and Glauber speculated that defensive coordinators Steve Wilks and Jim Schwartz could be options as well as Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, who was passed over for the Bears head coaching gig.

New York has officially interviewed McDaniels, Patricia, Shurmur, Wilks, Steve Spagnuolo and Eric Studesville. They could also eventually interview Schwartz, even though his previously scheduled interview has been put on hold.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.