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Rumor: Patriots DC Matt Patricia would be ‘lead candidate’ if Detroit Lions fire Jim Caldwell

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Sometimes the answer is the most obvious one.

Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions haven’t fired head coach Jim Caldwell yet, but the rumors are already swirling around who may take his place should Detroit move on.

According to NFL.com’s Mike Silver, the leading candidate for the Lions would be New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.

Patricia has be linked with the Lions ever since Detroit hired former Patriots director of pro scouting Bob Quinn as their general manager. In 2016, Quinn decided against bringing in his own head coach, sticking with Caldwell and even giving him an extension before the 2017 season began.

But seeing as the Lions’ 2017 season did not meet expectations, many believe Quinn will move on from Caldwell and finally bring in his own guy.

Patricia has been the defensive coordinator for the Patriots since 2012, but he also assisted on the offensive side of the ball. Here’s a rundown of his duties since joining the Patriots in 2004

  • 2004 - Offensive assistant
  • 2015 - Assistant offensive line coach
  • 2006-10 - Linebackers coach
  • 2011 - Safeties coach
  • 2012-present - Defensive coordinator

Since becoming the defensive coordinator, Patricia has had mixed results. Here’s where New England’s defense has ranked (according to DVOA) since Patricia took over that side of the ball:

2012: 15th (23rd pass defense, 6th run defense)
2013: 20th (14th pass, 27th run)
2014: 12th (12th pass, 13th run)
2015: 12th (15th pass, 10th run)
2016: 16th (22nd pass, 5th run)
2017: 32nd (21st pass, 32nd run)

Obviously this year’s performance is highly worrisome. New England is currently allowing a ridiculous 4.8 yards per carry on defense (31st) and a 90.6 passer rating (17th). The Lions defense currently ranks better in both of those categories.

But Patricia has long been considered a future head coaching candidate. Last week, the NFL Career Development Advisory Panel released 12 recommended candidates for head-coaching vacancies, and Patricia was on the list—along with Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter.

At this point, we don’t even know if Caldwell will be fired. But if he does, it looks like the Lions may be targeting the guy we all thought they would.