DETROIT — On the finish of his first recreation because the Detroit Lions head coach in 2018, Matt Patricia and his workforce may hear chants of “J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets” in a mostly-empty Ford Subject as his workforce was embarrassed on Monday Night time Soccer.
On the finish of his ultimate recreation, on nationwide tv on Thanksgiving two-plus years later, there was complete silence as a result of no followers had been allowed as a result of COVID-19 pandemic. If followers had been allowed within the constructing, there would not have been a lot for them to do however boo.
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Between the primary recreation and the final, not a lot went properly for Patricia as a head coach. And it led to his firing and that of his boss, common supervisor Bob Quinn, on Saturday afternoon — signaling a whole regime change and an all-out failure of the New England Patriots Midwest experiment.
Quinn’s greatest failing was entrusting Patricia to take the Lions from the center of the NFL pack to a contender as a substitute for Jim Caldwell, who had three successful seasons in 4 years. On the time, Quinn mentioned he wished a coach who may beat the higher groups on Detroit’s schedule, which Caldwell didn’t do. As an alternative, Patricia turned the workforce nearer to what they had been a decade in the past, taking a look at a rebuild within the cellar.
Possession gave Patricia a mandate of “main enchancment” and taking part in significant video games in December previous to this season. Patricia’s Lions by no means met these requirements. In his two-plus seasons, Patricia completed 13-29-1, forward of simply Marty Mornhinweg and Rod Marinelli in successful share amongst modern-era coaches for Detroit.
Nothing labored for Detroit. Patricia was employed for his defensive prowess and the Lions noticed their protection regress every year of his tenure, by no means fixing their issues. Detroit could not cease the run his final two years as head coach. Patricia’s insistence on taking part in a man-heavy scheme with little potential to create constant defensive strain left cornerbacks and safeties in poor positioning for achievement.
Offensively he preached he wished a workforce that would run the ball. The Lions ranked No. 20 or worse in speeding every season. He went from 6-10 to 3-12-1 after which 4-7.
Quinn’s draft picks didn’t work out, notably ones he took when Caldwell was nonetheless head coach — linebacker Jarrad Davis and cornerback Teez Tabor. Not all of Quinn’s picks had been unhealthy ones — Frank Ragnow, Taylor Decker and Kenny Golladay — however they did not take sufficient stars or herald sufficient impression free brokers.
Then Quinn employed Patricia, and whereas Patricia’s first yr on the sphere was his greatest one, in all places else it was a catastrophe.
Earlier than his first season began, a sexual assault indictment from a quarter-century in the past resurfaced — allegations Patricia mentioned had been false and proclaiming his innocence within the dismissed case — nevertheless it compelled him to handle them. Lions possession backed him, however Patricia mentioned it additionally didn’t come up in his interview.
Within the locker room, Patricia alienated a few of his greatest gamers when he arrived, together with star cornerback Darius Slay, and traded away key gamers and widespread locker room figures in Slay, Quandre Diggs and receiver Golden Tate.
He was usually gruff with the media and repeatedly confirmed up late for press conferences. He dealt with criticism poorly — together with a four-minute, 900-word protection for training within the snow in November 2018.
In his off-the-field dealings, Patricia made marked enhancements in his second and third years as head coach. That was helped by bringing in gamers akin to Trey Flowers, Danny Amendola, Duron Harmon and Jamie Collins, who knew him properly and understood his fashion of teaching. He additionally improved his relationships with gamers who had been there in his first season. Patricia additionally turned extra accessible to the media and took far fewer photographs to reporters, working to fix these relationships.
In December 2019, possession determined to retain Patricia and Quinn for 2020, with these expectations of enchancment. Sure, Detroit had been 3-12-1, however the Lions had been additionally with out quarterback Matthew Stafford for the final half of the season.
On the time, then-vice chairperson and now-owner Sheila Ford Hamp mentioned she knew it wasn’t the favored determination. She believed, on the time, that it was the correct one. Enchancment would come.
Turned out that was fallacious.
Whereas there was far much less grumbling about his fashion together with his gamers this season and an actual connection appeared to emerge from Patricia and his gamers round social justice points, it by no means translated into on-field enchancment.
The Lions too usually appeared disorganized and unprepared, hallmarks of teaching failure. Gamers blamed the workforce’s failures on execution — as many gamers on many groups do — nevertheless it usually comes all the way down to how they’re coached in the course of the week.
Because the 2020 season wore on, Detroit made vital errors in key video games, together with having 10 males on the sphere on protection for 3 performs within the span of two weeks and having a penalty wipe out a landing in a 20-0 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Nov. 22.
The Lions constantly misplaced fourth-quarter leads in Patricia’s Detroit tenure and misplaced 4 of his ultimate 5 video games by double-digits. Patricia by no means gained greater than two video games in a row throughout his complete tenure and, each time he was requested about it, would all the time say some model of needing to educate and play higher.
Patricia regularly talked about needing to make enhancements and simply getting again to work. However these enhancements, from Sport 1 to Sport 43, by no means arrived. It was, too usually, extra of the identical every week — the principle motive Patricia is out of a job lower than three seasons after taking on and Quinn is with him lower than 5 seasons on the job.