It’s obviously way too early to know if the Detroit Lions made the right move by hiring former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia as their next head coach. But in an environment where fans crave instant analysis and the offseason spans eight months, we tend to fill our time with meaningless predictions.
This week, a slew of SB Nation analysts decided to hand out superlatives for each of the seven NFL head coaching hires this year. Mike Vrabel was named the coach with the “best long-term future.” Jon Gruden was “most likely to lead a quick turnaround.”
Matt Patricia? “The safest hire.”
The title rings of a backhanded compliment, but I completely get it. Matt Patricia was always the leading candidate in Detroit. He’s a guy that Bob Quinn is extremely familiar with, and he’s someone who has been a head coaching candidate for a few years now. This coaching search was very clear and very direct from the start.
As the article states, he also bring expertise to the Lions’ biggest need: defensive improvement. “With the NFL’s 27th-ranked defense in 2017, Patricia’s services could help balance an imbalanced team,” they wrote.
So there isn’t that much exciting or surprising about the Lions’ hire. Of course, that doesn’t mean it comes without its risks. There’s the dreaded fact that no Patriots coordinator has ever gone on to have a successful head coaching career in the NFL. Putting the Patriots tree argument aside, any time a team hires a first-time head coach, they are entering uncharted territories, and the results usually aren’t that good.
But hiring a new head coach isn’t about being unpredictable or risky. It doesn’t matter if the coach a team ends up hiring was at the top or bottom of their list at the beginning of the search. All that matters is getting the right person. And if the Lions’ straight-line approach to this year’s coaching search proves fruitful, that’s ultimately all that matters.