Edson: Should We Get Excited About New Lions Head Coach?

At this point in Detroit Lions history, does it matter if the new guy is Matt Patricia or Patricia Matt?

That’s the guy who’s expected to be named the team’s new head coach after the New England Patriots finish their playoff run.

Seriously, as I watched the Jacksonville players walk off the field Sunday after an upset win at Pittsburgh, the announcers were saying, “This is the first time they’ve been in a league championship game since 1999.”

If only we Lions fans were that lucky.

I guess we’re supposed to take solace in the fact that New England’s defensive coordinator – this Matt Patricia – is from the New England Patriots School of Winning.

I’ve gotten excited plenty of times over the years about new Lions coaches. But this is the 18th new Lions coach since I’ve been old enough to follow them. I’ve grown numb to the expectations.

So I decided to do a little homework on Mr. Patricia.

He’s smart. He spent four years playing college football at little Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. When he was done, everyone told him, “You’re going to be a heck of an engineer.”

And he was. He has his degree in Aeronautical Engineering. He spent his first two years after graduation from RPI making $100,000 a year. He then got a job proposal to maintain nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers with Westinghouse.

He turned down that offer to go back to a job he really wanted – football coach. He was the defensive line coach for Amherst College in 1999 – remember, that was the last time Jacksonville made the playoffs – and 2000.

From there, he spent three seasons as a graduate assistant at Syracuse. Bill Belichick heard about this bright young coach and brought him aboard the Patriots ship in 2004. He’s been there ever since.

Patricia then worked with current Lions general manager Bob Quinn for several years as Quinn was serving in the Patriots front office.

Now it looks like they will be reunited.

It will be great to have a former Patriot in the front office AND coaching the team. Too bad we can’t bring over some of their players, too.

But I’m going to try and remain optimistic about this hire.

Maybe he can eventually become the No. 1 Lions coach in career victories. Right now that title belongs to Wayne Fontes, who had 66 wins. Trouble was, he had 67 losses.

And hopefully Coach Patricia will have better luck. After all, he is the ninth Lions head coach since – you guessed it – 1999.

Nick Edson is a retired Hall of Fame columnist and sportswriter. He worked 25 years at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, 18 as sports editor. He is a two-time president of the Associated Press Sports Editors Association and a member of the Michigan Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.