Calling for a coach’s job can be viewed as rude or unprofessional. After all, football is their livelihood, and demanding that a coach be fired is essentially banging the table for their unemployment, a pretty heartless thing to do.
Then again, if you preach “do your job,” you need to back it up yourself.
The firing of Matt Patricia is not a question of if, but when. It would be irresponsible of the organization to think otherwise when the product that has been delivered has been as pitiful as we have seen. Sunday’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings was among the lowest of lows for the Detroit Lions under Patricia.
It was the epitome of all of the Lions failures in recent years. Fill the defensive line with “your guys.” They cannot create pressure. Renovate the entire secondary because players are not a culture fit. They cannot cover anybody. Acquire big, bruising linebackers to fit your scheme. Watch opponents run past them. For an organization that once had promise, it is stunning how badly—and quickly—this train has derailed. And it starts with Patricia.
Or does it?
Bob Quinn is not without blame. He and Patricia are the Batman and Robin of organizational failure. Patricia was given the chess pieces to fit his vision, but it has failed miserably. Does that speak to an ill-advised ideology, or an inability to acquire proper talent? Perhaps a bit of both.
Regardless, the Lions will need change. It will not save this season, the ink is dry. Instead, a front office shakeup will be needed to save what little future optimism there is.
Today’s Question of the Day is:
When should the Lions fire Patricia?
My answer: The popular answer will be this week. The fanbase is finished with Patricia and very little can—or will—be done on the field to change that. Off the field, his personality has worn thin. The coachspeak, the attempts to replicate the Patriots culture, the brushing off of criticism are all points of frustration. Fire Patricia, crown the young gun Brayden Coombs as the interim head coach, close out the season, and look to the future.
It is not that simple, sadly.
With hindsight, the Lions should have fired Patricia after 2018. The team has made no progress since he was hired, and you could easily argue they are worse. This is a team that is STILL getting burned by having 10 players on the field. What accomplishment can Patricia hang his hat on? A Super Bowl play for another team?
That being said, I think the proper time to fire Patricia is at the season’s end.
Midseason firings are rarely successful. The Lions will not turn the year around. Additionally, most of the head coaching candidates are on other NFL teams and will not be available for another few months. Firing Patricia now does not give the Lions an edge.
Has Coombs transformed this special teams unit? Certainly. However, that does not make him head coaching material, at least not yet. He is inexperienced, and while everyone has to start somewhere, the step up from special teams to head coach is staggering. Following in the footsteps of John Harbaugh, who went from special teams coordinator to head coach, is a tough task and a rare one at that.
The position that I think the Lions address far sooner is the general manager position. It would not surprise me if the Lions part ways with Bob Quinn, then use the coming months to assess the team’s future. Scouting general managers is a complex business, one I will not attempt to speculate on, but it is a position worth getting an early look at. Bob Quinn himself was hired while the Patriots were still in the 2015-2016 playoffs, so waiting around for the season to finish is not necessary.
Patricia’s days in Detroit seem numbered, barring a miraculous turnaround or sheer incompetence from the front office. When that happens is a different story.