Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Patricia's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Lions debut sets him up to be another failure on Belichick's coaching tree

Alex Reimer
September 11, 2018 - 9:02 am

It looks like Matt Patricia decided to recycle his game plan from the Super Bowl for his big Lions head coaching debut. The strategy went about as well as you could’ve imagined.

There’s a long history of Bill Belichick disciples embarrassing themselves with low-grade Hoodie tribute acts once they break out on their own: Scott Pioli tapping phones in Kansas City, Josh McDaniels feuding with players in Denver, Eric Mangini’s gruff routine with the media. But few have wound up with more immediate egg on their face than Patricia. The Lions’ laughable performance made us forget all about Bill O’Brien and his steadfast refusal to call a timeout after Rob Gronkowski’s questionable catch on Sunday.

Patricia’s squad was demolished in every facet of the game during its Jets-delivered 48-17 beatdown. Rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, whose first career pass was a pick-six, torched the Lions’ secondary with a 41-yard touchdown completion to Robbie Anderson and 21-yard TD toss to Quincy Enunwa. Though, in fairness, the Enunwa touchdown was more about the Lions’ complete failure to tackle than anything else. He weaved through Detroit’s hapless secondary, making defenders miss like they were trying to stop the Eagles on third-down in Super Bowl LII.


The proverbial icing on the embarrasment cake came late in the third quarter, when Andre Roberts returned a punt 78 yards into the end zone and running back Isaiah Crowell raced in for a 62-yard score. Oh, and Matthew Stafford was intercepted four times, too. Linebacker Darron Lee had a pick-six of his own.

After the game, the Jets said they could figure out Detroit’s signals. "We were calling out their plays as he was getting up to the line,” Lee said, per USA Today. “We knew his signals. We knew everything. That’s just preparation as a defense. … It just seemed like we were in his head as a defense.”

The Lions did ostensibly spend their summer gearing up for Monday’s opener, but it certainly didn’t look like it. The Jets saying they were able to telegraph Stafford’s plays is a clear indictment on the coaching staff. How come nobody was able to pick this up during OTAs or six weeks of training camp? Patricia, in case you haven’t heard, studied rocket science in college. Surely, he should be able to pick up whether Stafford was giving away plays.

Detroit canned Jim Caldwell last offseason, despite the fact he actually managed to finish with a winning record (36-28) during his four years at the helm. General manager Bob Quinn, another Belichick devotee, said he wanted to pursue excellence. Enter Patricia with his Patriots resume. 

Except, in Week 1, it didn’t work out that way. The four Belichick Patriots assistants who have taken NFL head coaching jobs elsewhere –– Romeo Crennel, Mangini, McDaniels and O’Brien –– own a paltry 103-153 record. Patricia is battling against history, and right now, looks like he’s primed to live up to the very low bar that’s been set before him. 

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. When it comes to hiring Belichick’s confidantes, maybe teams will learn one day.