Matt Patricia’s firing shows hiring Patriots assistants is always a mistake

Matt Patricia Detroit Lions
Did the Lions take an unnecessary risk by hiring Matt Patricia? Photo from Sporting News.

After hiring Matt Patricia in February 2018, the Detroit Lions hoped to transform their franchise in the way Bill Belichick did with the Patriots all those years ago. The Lions felt Matt Patricia was the man to make that happen.

However, as it has proven Patricia has failed in becoming Belichick 2.0.

The Lions controversially discarded Jim Caldwell in 2017 after Caldwell posted back to back 9-7 seasons, hoping that Patricia’s pedigree as a Super Bowl winning defensive coordinator would transform them into a regular playoff contender.

Instead all the Lions got was mediocrity. Patricia’s love of man-to-man defense continually saw receivers open on crossing routes as the Lions failed to muster pressure from its defensive line. While the linebackers seemed completely unaware of what the gameplan actually was.

With Patricia it has been the same over and over, trying to essentially do the same thing with the same players, hoping for different results that will never come. Patricia’s entire tenure has been nothing more than a bad joke. The Lions in almost three seasons failed to win three games in a row at any point. How he got this long is a mystery.

Matt Patricia failing to change franchise fortunes in Detroit

A 6-10 win season left a lot to be desired, while injury to quarterback Matt Stafford seemingly spared Patricia from the sack after the 2019 season when Detroit posted a shambolic 3-12-1 record.

Patricia lost more games in less than three seasons than Caldwell lost in four. Caldwell’s three winning seasons in four years was not good enough for a reprieve, nor should have been Patricia’s failures for two seasons.

There was no reprieve this time around, as a 4-7 record following a Thanksgiving defeat to Texans proved to be enough for the Ford family to make a decision.


Patricia’s time in Detroit ended with 13 wins, 29 losses and one tie. Patricia’s failures also cost General Manager Bob Quinn his job too. After relieving Caldwell of his duties in 2019 Quinn gambled his future on the success of Patricia and it was success that the Lions never found.

Nevertheless, Patricia’s failure further reinforces the belief Belichick’s assistants can’t thrive outside the New England bubble.

Aside from Patricia, the likes of Josh McDaniels, Romeo Crennel and Eric Mangini all got head coaching jobs after leaving the Patriots. All of whom flopped.

Ex Patriots failing to fire outside of Foxboro

McDaniels lasted just under two seasons in Denver after earning the job following his success with Tom Brady and in 2008 Matt Cassel. The offensive coordinator posted a promising 8-8 record in his rookie season before a 3-9 record the following season saw McDaniels quickly booted out of Denver. He later landed back in New England where he remains today.

Secondly, Crennel found success as a defensive coordinator and associate head coach outside of New England, but flopped as a head coach. The current interim Houston Texans head coach posted a 24-40 record in four years Cleveland Browns head coach, while in his last head coaching job he registered a torrid two win season with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Eric Mangini was the last example. After leaving New England the future looked bright. The 35-year-old transitioned from a Patriots defensive backs coach and coordinator, he then started his Jets head coaching tenure with a 10-6 season, highlighting his promise. That proved to be as good as it got as he followed that up with a 4-12 record in 2007, 9-7 in 2008, and a pair of 5-11 years with the Browns.

Only Brian Flores has made a success of himself since leaving New England, this should serve as a reminder to any franchise seeking to hire one of Belichick’s assistant. The New England way works in New England, but doesn’t work elsewhere. Patricia’s failures further highlight that.

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