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Lions DC Paul Pasqualoni, not Matt Patricia, to call defensive plays in 2018

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Matt Patricia is delegating defensive play calling in his first year as head coach.

Rutgers v Connecticut Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Paul Pasqualoni wasn’t one of the Detroit Lions’ most popular hires this offseason. The Lions new defensive coordinator has a long, storied career in football that has spanned over 45 years. However, with as much success as he’s seen, he’s also seen a bit of failure. In his last year with the Cowboys, his defense ranked 31st in scoring and 27th in DVOA. His head coaching stints at UConn and Syracuse ended unceremoniously.

So when he was hired, many were a little anxious. “As long as he isn’t calling the plays,” was the mantra for many Lions fans, hoping that head coach Matt Patricia would really have control of that side of the ball.

However, that is not going to completely be the case. Patricia met with the media on Tuesday morning at the owners media and explained what Pasqualoni’s role will be in 2018. (Via MLive’s Kyle Meinke)

“Coach Pasqualoni will be calling the defense, and he’ll be running it from that standpoint,” Patricia said. ”I think it’ll always be very difficult for me not to gravitate toward defense in general, and probably the linebackers in particular. That’s just kind of your comfort zone, and that’s where you tend to go. I’ll probably drive the position coaches a little bit crazy more than not. But again, I’m excited to be involved in all facets of it.”

Obviously, as Patricia mentions, he plans to be a big part of defensive game-planning, but it’s still a bit surprising to hear that the 68-year-old defensive coordinator will be responsible for calling the plays when Patricia has been doing that for the past five years in New England.

It’s a sign that Patricia clearly trusts Pasqualoni to be a true defensive coordinator and not just a figurehead. The two worked together at Syracuse from 2001-03, with Pasqualoni as head coach and Patricia (in his first major coaching job) as an offensive assistant. That relationship, along with Pasqualoni’s familiarity with what Patricia wants to do in Detroit, has earned a level of confidence between the two.

“He worked in a very familiar system working for Coach (Bill) Parcells. The avenue he took was very similar from a fundamentals standpoint, so there’s a lot of things we already have a common ground from that standpoint,” Patricia said. “There might be some scheme questions about stuff I’ve done in the past that he’ll ask or that we’ll have to go over, but I’m real confident in him. I hired him to do that.”

On one hand, it’s nice to hear that a first-time head coach won’t be overburdening himself with too many responsibilities, especially considering Patricia’s reputation as a workaholic. At the same time, Pasqualoni’s history as a play-caller isn’t great (it isn’t horrible, either). Regardless, Patricia will still be heavily involved in the defense, and as he mentioned in his introductory press conference and reiterated on Tuesday, “I’ll call whatever I need to offensively, defensively or special teams.