The Detroit Lions and first-year head coach Matt Patricia are 0-2 after a 48-17 loss to the New York Jest Sept. 10 and a 30-27 loss to the San Francisco 49ers Sunday afternoon.
People are already questioning Patricia’s abilities as a head coach after the loss. There is a long line of people who worked under New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and then failed as head coaches:
- Romeo Crennel (defensive coordinator, 2001-2004)
- Eric Mangini (defensive coordinator, 2005)
- Josh McDaniels (offensive coordinator, 2006-2008, 2012-present)
- Bill O’Brien (wide receivers coach, 2008, quarterbacks coach, 2009-2010, offensive coordinator, 2011)
- Nick Saban (defensive coordinator, 1991-1994)
- Jim Schwartz (personnel scout, 1993-1995)
As Colin Cowherd pointed out, Belichick’s assistants all have losing records as head coaches. Out of these six assistants, only Bill O’Brien is still a head coach in the NFL. Last week, Bill O’Brien’s Texans lost their first game this season to Belichick’s Patriots.
According to Pro Football Reference, Belichick has the third most wins as a head coach in NFL history with 251 wins. One would think that his assistants throughout the years would have learned a thing or two from one of the best coaches of all-time. It would appear that they have not.
So, this raises a tough question. If Belichick is such a great coach, then why have his assistants struggled so much as head coaches?
One issue might be that Belichick’s strict demeanor is not a perfect fit for every team, and his assistants might carry that demeanor with them. Reports already suggest that some players are unhappy with Matt Patricia and the coaching staff. NFL reporter Mike Garafolo said that he talked to a player’s agent and the agent predicted that the Lions would struggle in Week one against the Jets because he observed that Matt Patricia and the coaching staff were over-working their players in training camp.
Garafolo also spoke with a former Patriots player and Super Bowl champion about how the players are being treated in Detroit. “Good. They need it,” the player told Garafolo.
Perhaps these issues with the Lions and Patricia are part of a larger issue, which is the issue that a culture change in the NFL takes time. The players need time to adjust.
Former Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola explained the challenges of playing for a strict coach like Belichick.
“There were a lot of things I didn’t like about playing for him, but I must say, the things I didn’t like were all in regards to getting the team better, and I respected him,” Amendola said.
The Patriots’ culture is unique. Bill Belichick has the reputation and the credibility in the NFL to get away with being strict. Players buy into what he tells them because they know that Belichick is a proven winner as a head coach. His assistants don’t have that level of credibility when they take on their first head coaching jobs, so their attempts to coach a team like Belichick seems to result in these issues of dissatisfied and skeptical players.
While Patricia’s first game as the Lions head coach did not result in a victory, don’t write him off quite yet. New England’s defense was top ten in the NFL in points per game in all six of Patricia’s seasons as defensive coordinator, including the best defense in 2016, in which they only allowed 15.6 points per game. Patricia will find a way to improve Detroit’s defense. It’s up to the front office of the Lions to decide how patient they will be with Patricia.