Detroit Lions Fire Matt Patricia, GM Bob Quinn After Two-Plus Seasons — Who Should Replace Patricia?

The Matt Patricia era has officially ended for the Detroit Lions.

Detroit fired Patricia, midway through his third season, and general manager Bob Quinn on Saturday. The Lions are 4-7 this season and lost, 41-25, to Deshaun Watson and the Texans on Thanksgiving.

Patrica, 46, went 13-29-1 with the Lions. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will serve as the interim coach.

Here is the latest on the coaching change in Detroit.

Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn both failed in Detroit

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A longtime assistant in New England under Bill Belichick, Matt Patricia joined the Detroit Lions with high expectations.

Like many Belichick disciples, Patricia instead failed miserably. Detroit regularly struggled in one-score games and never won more than six games in a season under Patricia.

Detroit went 8-14 in games decided by eight points or fewer. The Lions also tied Arizona to open the 2019 season. 

The final straw was a Thanksgiving Day loss to the Texans. Ironically, Houston was the first team to fire their head coach this season. 

Houston relieved head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien of his duties in October. O’Brien and Patricia worked together in New England from 2007-11. 

Atlanta fired Dan Quinn that same month.

Quinn, who worked in New England from 2000-15, struggled to acquire top-tier talent in the NFL draft. Notably, Quinn used the eighth overall pick in last year’s draft on tight end T.J. Hockenson, who has improved this season but was nonetheless taken extremely early.

Detroit used the third overall pick on Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah last April. Okudah has had an inconsistent rookie year and his snaps have decreased in recent weeks.

Detroit’s next head coach faces some interesting questions

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Matt Patrica joined Jim Caldwell and Jim Schwartz as Detroit Lions head coaches who could not win with Matthew Stafford at quarterback.

Stafford’s future in Detroit is easily the most intriguing storyline that Patricia’s replacement will have to address. Stafford, who turns 33 in February, is still playing at a high level.

Stafford completed 63.2% of his passes through his first 11 games this year for 2,876 yards, 18 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. The former No. 1 overall pick is under contract through 2023.

Detroit has young offensive weapons in running back D’Andre Swift and tight end T.J. Hockenson. Wide receiver Kenny Golladay had consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in 2018 and 2019 but has missed time with a hip injury and is a free agent after the year.

Who could the Lions hire to replace Matt Patricia?

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With Matt Patricia gone, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will serve as the interim coach.

If the Lions do not retain Bevell as head coach when the season ends, the following coaches make sense for the Lions to consider. 

  • Arthur Smith, Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator: The Titans have had one of the league’s most dynamic offenses under Smith. Smith’s age (he’ll coach the 2021 season at 39) and the fact he’s only worked two seasons as an offensive coordinator may scare some teams away, however.
  • Brian Daboll, Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator: Daboll has molded Josh Allen into one of the league’s top young quarterbacks and turned Buffalo into a rising force in the AFC. Daboll interviewed for the Browns’ head coaching position last year.
  • Eric Bienemy, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator: Bienemy will again be a hot name on the offseason’s coaching carousel. Bienemy may be best suited waiting to take over the Chiefs when Andy Reid eventually retires, though.
  • Greg Roman, Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator: Lamar Jackson won the MVP Award under Roman’s tutelage last year. A veteran offensive coordinator who thrived with Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco, Roman would bring extensive knowledge and culture to whatever team hired him.
  • Marvin Lewis, Arizona State co-defensive coordinator: Lewis, the longtime Bengals coach, interviewed for the Cowboys’ head coaching job last year. Although Lewis went 131-122-3 in 16 seasons with the Bengals, he lost all seven playoff games he coached.

Detroit’s regular-season ends on Sunday, January 3. If all goes to plan, the Lions may want to have a new head coach by mid-January.

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