During Sunday’s Zoom conference with the media, Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Cory Undlin nonchalantly let loose a little bit of information that answered one of the biggest offseason questions for the defense: Who will be calling the plays?
“I’ll be on the field, calling the defense, obviously,” Undlin said.
And while it almost seemed like an accidental slip of the tongue, head coach Matt Patricia confirmed on Monday morning that Undlin would, indeed, be calling the plays, and they had anticipated the question coming from the media.
“Cory and I had some great conversations before he jumped on the media with you guys yesterday, and I knew that was probably going to be a topic that everyone wanted to talk about,” Patricia said. “There’s nothing really to hide here. Cory’s been grinding away here. He’s our defensive coordinator. He’s been working to understand everything we’re doing defensively.”
While that wasn’t a direct answer, he more or less confirmed that Undlin will have play calling duties on Sundays.
That’s a slight change of operations compared to Patricia’s time with Paul Pasqualoni as his defensive coordinator. While Patricia never outright admitted it, it became pretty clear by the end of the 2019 season that Patricia had assumed some playing calling duties on the defensive side of the ball.
And although he may be ceding some of that power back to Undlin, Patricia made it clear that he will still have an input on game-day decisions in every aspect of the game.
“If I want to jump in on offense, special teams or defense, I have that ability at any time I want,” Patricia said. “It’s really nothing more than that.”
As for Undlin, this will be the first time he has assumed full play-calling duties since the last time he was defensive coordinator—way back in 2001, when he held the position at California Lutheran.