For many fans and talking heads alike, there was a belief that the Detroit Lions as a football team had plateaued; they needed a new head coach to take their team and organization to the next level.
Detroit decided the man to accomplish that feat was Matt Patricia, the franchise’s new head coach who was formally introduced on Wednesday. He isn’t Bill Belichick, and he made it clear he’s his own person, a guy with his own style—including a neatly-trimmed beard.
Here are five takeaways from Wednesday’s introductory press conference of Patricia as the team’s new head coach.
Jim Bob Cooter is “on staff”
He wouldn’t give a one-word answer as to whether or not Jim Bob Cooter would be his team’s offensive coordinator because of his Italian heritage, but Patricia is retaining Cooter as part of his staff. All signs point to JBC staying on staff as the team’s offensive coordinator, which jibes with an Adam Schefter report from last Sunday.
Patricia admitted that a lot of the staff is still a “work in progress,” but he also referenced his research and connections he’s leaned on to help inform him his decisions about his offensive staff:
“I’ve had a lot of coaches I’ve worked with and guys that I’ve been around before that have worked with a lot of the guys on the offensive side of the ball. So taking people’s recommendations that I trust highly to make sure that certain pieces were in place was important.”
The Lions are playing a 3-4! And a 4-3! Or whatever else fits their personnel
For Patricia, the evaluation process of the talent currently on the roster still needs to take place, and with so many aspects of the offseason to still work itself out—free agency, the draft, OTAs and training camp—there are still a lot of moving pieces up in the air as the new coach becomes acclimated with his personnel.
In regards to scheme, Patricia isn’t trying to fit square pegs into a round hole:
“Scheme is not something that’s necessarily locked into having to be “this.” You want to make sure you tailor what you do to the players that you have so that they can perform at a high level out on the field.”
Patricia is going to be involved in all aspects of the team
With his immediate background and experience as a defensive coordinator for the New England Patriots for so many years, many expect Patricia to come into Detroit and takeover the play-calling on the defensive side of the ball. Whereas it seems Cooter is returning to run the offense, former defensive coordinator Teryl Austin left for the same position with the Cincinnati Bengals, leaving a vacancy Patricia has filled with Paul Pasqualoni.
However, Patricia made it clear he isn’t coming to Detroit just to call the shots for the defense.
“The good thing about being a head coach is anytime I want to call a play—offense, defense or special teams—I get to call it.”
Patricia went on to elaborate on what it means for him to be the head coach:
“I plan to be involved in kind of all aspects of the team as the head coach and to make sure I understand everything we’re doing on all three sides of the ball.”
“I think it’s critically important as a head coach to stand up in front of the team and explain to them ‘Hey, look, this is how we are going to win the game. This is what we need to do on offense, this is what we need to do on defense, this is what we need to do on special teams.’”
The level of comfortability with the organization
The interview process was something Patricia talked about a few times during his press conference. He mentioned that he interviewed with three teams including Detroit, and the level of comfortability with the people at the top of the Lions organization, Bob Quinn and Rod Wood namely, made Detroit the place to be for him.
“My meeting with Bob (Quinn) and Rod (Wood) was one that I just felt very comfortable in. I felt immediately when I walked in the room that things just started to click on the same level. Ideas, philosophies, the way that you want an organization or a football team to be run.”
Big fan of electric football
To be a head coach was a dream of Patricia since he was a kid, something he mentioned during the press conference, and he elaborated on in a follow up question with a story from his childhood.
Electric football helped him unpack his love for the strategic element of football:
“I can just remember my friends and I at the time, we would set up all the plays and diagram. We would have all the strategies involved and all of it. So I knew at a very young age the strategic part of the game was something that I just loved. I thrived on it. We would just try to out-plan each other.”