It’s time for the Matt Patricia Era to come to an end. After Thursday’s embarrassing 41-25 beatdown on national TV, the Lions dropped to 4-7 despite having a decently talented roster. Detroit has finished dead last in the division in each of the past two seasons, and they’re on a collision course to do it again. Considering where this team was when Patricia took over and where it is now, the Lions cannot afford to endure even one more week of the Matt Patricia Experience.
Detroit Lions Need to Fire Matt Patricia
Back in 2018, the Detroit Lions were not supposed to be a long-term fix. Following consecutive 9-7 seasons, the general thought was that the team needed a new coach to push the roster to the next level. The pieces were there – Matthew Stafford was a franchise quarterback, Kenny Golladay showed plenty of promise as a rookie, and Marvin Jones was coming off a fantastic season. While nobody was expecting an immediate Super Bowl, Patricia should have brought this team to the playoffs.
A product of Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots, Patricia supposedly knew how to win and how to get the best out of his players. That hasn’t happened, as just about everything has gotten worse under his watch. After winning 18 games over the final two seasons of the Jim Caldwell Era, the Lions have won just 13 with Patricia calling the shots.
Even if Patricia wanted to completely blow up the old roster, the results should be here right now. For the sake of comparison, let’s look at what Frank Reich did with the Indianapolis Colts. Both coaches were hired following the 2017 season, but Reich had to deal with a worse roster and the surprise retirement of his star quarterback, Andrew Luck. Despite this, Reich has managed to rebuild the Colts into one of the best teams in the AFC. Patricia had to deal with an injured Matthew Stafford at various points of the past two seasons, but that’s no excuse for the consistently terrible product.
The Patriots Got Better Without Him
It’s never a good sign when a defense improves once the coach calling the shots leaves. Unfortunately, that’s what happened for the New England Patriots and Matt Patricia. Despite making the Super Bowl, the 2017 Patriots had one of the worst defenses in the league. Even with superstar cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the unit ranked 31st in DVOA, 30th in EPA/play allowed, and 31st in yards per play allowed. Patricia’s final game in New England featured career backup Nick Foles going wild to the tune of 373 yards, three touchdowns, and a Super Bowl MVP.
New England’s defensive personnel didn’t change all that drastically in 2018. Outside of replacing Malcolm Butler with Jason McCourty, the unit remained largely intact. However, the defense improved thanks to de-facto defensive coordinator Brian Flores. Overall, the 2018 Patriots defense ranked seventh in EPA/play allowed, a massive improvement from a season ago. New England eventually won the Super Bowl, thanks in large part to a phenomenal defensive game plan that limited Jared Goff to three points.
One year later, the Patriots had one of the best defenses in recent memory. The 2019 Patriots ranked at or near the top of just about every defensive efficiency rating. Those numbers have dropped in 2020, although that probably has a lot to do with New England losing an NFL-high seven players to COVID-related opt-outs.
Matt Patricia is not a good head coach, and New England’s success without him implies that he was never a good defensive coordinator, either. Detroit needs to move on as soon as possible, and find someone that doesn’t use a pencil to write on laminated paper.
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