The Detroit Lions made several moves this off season to improve their coaching staff, hopefully putting them in contention for a title. The Lions recently parted ways with Head Coach Jim Caldwell to make way for new leadership within the organization. Lions general manager Bob Quinn praised Caldwell during his season-ending news conference, but said his goal is winning championships, and he felt Detroit needed “a change in leadership, a new voice.” This meant that Quinn was looking for someone that would come in and make an immediate impact. Both Quinn and team owner Martha Ford have faced a lot of criticism over the last few seasons for their team not advancing deep into the playoffs. These moves will be watched very closely throughout the rest of the offseason and into the 2018-19 season. If the Lions have another average season, more changes might come in their front office, with Quinn possibly being removed as GM.
With that in mind, Quinn spent the the offseason making several changes to the coaching staff looking for that “voice”. He strived to bring a new energy to the team that could achieve his goal of creating a team that can contend for a championship as soon as the 2018 season starts.
These are some moves that the Lions made this offseason that will be interesting to watch this upcoming season:
Matt Patricia- Head Coach
On Tuesday, The Detroit Lions named former New England Patriots defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia, as their head coach. Patricia has been coaching in the NFL since 2004, when he was hired as a Patriots offensive assistant. In 2012 he was named defensive coordinator and enjoyed great success at that position. Patricia’s defenses have ranked in the top 10 in points allowed every year he’s been the coordinator, and the Patriots defense was ranked No. 1 in 2016. While with New England, Patricia helped lead the organization to three Super Bowl Championships (XXXIX, XLIX, LI), 13 AFC East Division Championships, and six AFC Championships. He is used to winning; he has finished with 10 or more wins, including 11 seasons with 12 or more wins, in all of his 14 seasons with the Patriots. During his introductory press conference, Quinn spoke very highly of Patricia: “Matt is driven to succeed, has extreme passion for the game and excels in preparation. He embodies the same hard-working, blue-collar attributes that represent our organization and the great City of Detroit.”
Patricia has been praised for being highly educated and having a tireless work ethic. Originally, he was on a path to become a rocket scientist. He majored in aeronautical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in New York. He designed and sold industrial blowers to wastewater plants for a couple years after graduating college. Companies like General Electric wanted him to join their organization, but Patricia’s heart was with football. In 2016, Sports Illustrated wrote an article, detailing how Patricia had spent numerous hours studying film of opposing teams to help make the Patriots better. He used the same thorough note-taking style that he learned at RPI to generate ways to stop elite offenses. Patricia has an attention to detail that will be useful when scheming and strategizing for upcoming opponents. If Patricia brings the energy and passion that he had in New England to Detroit, the Lions will be an exciting team to watch this upcoming season.
Jim Bob Cooter- Offensive Coordinator
Ever since Jim Bob Cooter joined the Lions staff in 2014 as Matthew Stafford’s quarterback coach, Stafford has been among the league leaders in completion percentage. After taking over as Offensive Coordinator in 2015, he was able to produce immediate results. He led Detroit to a record of 6-2 the over the final eight weeks of the season, and give the offense new energy. Detroit’s passing offense finished ranked 11th (2016) and 6th (2017), with Stafford posting completion percentages of 65.3% and 65.7%, respectively, which are among the best of his nine-year career. But, the passing game is not the problem with the Lions offense; the run game has been virtually non-existent. The Lions had the 30th ranked rushing offense in the NFL, and last season they were dead last. It came as a shock to some fans that the Lions retained Cooter as the OC. He needs to find a way to jumpstart the run game and he needs to do it quickly. The Lions need to pour major resources into solidifying their run game. Cooter needs to find a quality free agent or use a draft pick to add depth and skill to the position. By keeping Cooter as their offensive coordinator, the Detroit Lions clearly believe the issues in their running game are personnel-based and not due to a lack of coaching. By bringing in new talent, the Lions are hoping to bring balance to their one-sided offense.
Paul Pasqualoni- Defensive Coordinator
The Lions defense started the 2017 season off fairly strong. For much of the season, their defense was near the top of the league in takeaways, finishing the season with 32, third most in the NFL. But as the season progressed, injuries, lack of experience, and inconsistencies plagued them. Paul Pasqualoni will be tasked with developing the defense and finding a way to play at a top level throughout the season. Pasqualoni comes to Detroit in 2018 following two seasons (2016-17) as the defensive line coach at Boston College. This year marks Pasqualoni’s ninth season coaching in the NFL after previous stints with the Houston Texans, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys. and Miami Dolphins. He inherits a defense that is filled with talent and has a lot of potential to develop. Most notably the defense includes: Darius Slay, who led the league in interceptions, Glover Quinn, and Ezekiel Ansah. These three are coming off of a big year and with proper leadership from Pasqualoni, they can build off of that success in the 2018 season. With the help of Patricia and Pasqualoni the Lions defense will be tough, versatile, and dynamic.
The goal for Patricia and staff is simple. Create a team that is confident, healthy, and ready to contend for a title. All eyes will be on Patricia, with the hope that he will lead the Lions deep into the playoffs and make them a consistent threat for years to come.