The Detroit Lions’ lopsided Thanksgiving Day loss to the Houston Texans was the final straw for management.
Head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn both got their pink slips on Saturday, ending a pretty awful stretch of football even by Lions standards. Patricia went just 13-29-1 in his three seasons in Detroit, and considering the circumstances of how he got the job he might go down as worse than Rod Marinelli, who literally coached the first 0-16 season in NFL history.
You may remember that Jim Caldwell took the team to the playoffs twice in four seasons and finished 36-28 overall, but he was fired after 2017 with the expectation that they would actually make a playoff run instead of get bounced early. In came Patricia and instead of becoming contenders they returned to the familiarity of double-digit losses (something Caldwell didn’t do once) and being out of the playoff picture by December.
It’s not just that Patricia was a bad head coach in terms of Xs and Os, but he seemed awful to deal with from a player’s perspective. Just let Quandre Diggs and Darius Slay Jr, two former teammates who will see each other on Monday night, tell you the story.
Patricia, of course, joins a lengthy list of many Bill Belichick assistants who have left the New England Patriots and then torpedoed the team they were hired to coach. For all of his reputation as a defensive genius, Patricia left New England with the defense ranked 31st in DVOA and unable to contain Nick Foles in the Super Bowl. In Detroit, his defenses have ranked 21st (2018), 23rd (2019), and 25th (2020) by DVOA.
The interim head coach gig belongs to former Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who was brought on by the Lions last season after Bevell took 2018 off. Detroit was 18th in DVOA last year and they are 15th this year, but rank 18th in pass offense and 22nd in rush offense DVOA. It should be noted that it was Patricia who envisioned Detroit trying to become a running team, something they haven’t been since Barry Sanders retired. This is perhaps why the Lions drafted running backs in the 2nd round in consecutive seasons.
It is perhaps not a surprise then that the Lions are one of the most run-heavy teams on early downs in neutral game script situations since Bevell took charge of the offense. And they are staggeringly inefficient yet continue to do it anyway.
I think it’s also not lost on some that a lot of Patricia’s praise came as a direct result of a certain playcall in Super Bowl XLIX, which (whether justified or not) led to a lot of damage to Bevell’s reputation. Patricia has now been replaced by Bevell as head coach. You can’t make this stuff up.
But the story does not end here. The Lions have home games against the Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the final month, and they may both have serious implications for playoff seeding for the Seahawks. So hopefully Bevell kicks ass in his interim spot and helps out Seattle in the process.