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Earlier this week, we broke down three potential replacements for Lions head coach Matt Patricia.

However, as we pointed out, the likelihood that general manager Bob Quinn moves on from Patricia after his second season remains slim.

That being said, Detroit desperately needs to make staff changes on the defensive side of the ball.

Despite investing a ton of money in their defensive line, spending a first-and-second-round draft pick on linebackers -- 2017 first-round pick Jarrad Davis and 2019 second-round pick Jahlani Tavai -- and possessing a franchise cornerstone at cornerback in Darius Slay, the Lions are ranked among the bottom-five defenses in the league.

The defensive struggles fall upon the shoulders of Patricia.

He is a former longtime defensive coordinator -- from his days with the New England Patriots -- who was once perceived as a defensive mastermind.

If Patricia doesn’t take over play-calling duties himself, then he has to appoint a capable coordinator.

Paul Pasqualoni, Detroit’s present defensive coordinator, is not that.

Here are three candidates to replace Pasqualoni:

NFL assistant candidate

Kris Richard, Cowboys passing game coordinator and defensive backs coach

Richard was the former defensive coordinator of Seattle from 2015-17, and his 2015 defense led the league in points allowed.

Seattle moved on from Richard, and some around the league believed it was a questionable move.

Currently, he serves as Dallas’ defensive backs coach, and has resurfaced as a candidate to be a coordinator once again.

He’s built a highly successful secondary for the Cowboys, which has included the development of defensive backs Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis and Xavier Woods.

It’s hard to believe, though, that he would leave Dallas for Detroit.

However, at the same time, he’s a man of many hats in "Big D," and would have only one job at Ford Field: to lead the defense.

Former NFL head coach candidate

Marvin Lewis, former Bengals head coach

Todd Bowles. Vance Joseph. Jim Schwartz. Steve Wilks.

What do those guys all have in common? 

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They're all former head coaches that have became defensive coordinators since being terminated from their HC gigs. 

This strategy may be a short-term fix, if the coach resurfaces as a head coaching candidate.

Schwartz, for one, has seen his name be mentioned for head coaching vacancies. 

However, it hasn't yet led to another head coaching job for the 53-year-old. 

He's been the Philadelphia Eagles' defensive coordinator since 2016. 

Marvin Lewis was the head coach of the Bengals for 16 years (2003-18).

Before that, he was a highly successful defensive coordinator with the Bengals' AFC North rival Baltimore Ravens (1996-2001) and then with the Washington Redskins for a lone season (2002). 

He’s without a job now, and at 61 and with a wealth of experience, he could draw head coaching interest in the offseason.

Should he not, he’d bring a wealth of experience on the defensive side of the ball for the Lions, and could serve as a valuable mentor to the 45-year-old Patricia.

College candidate

Brent Venables, Clemson defensive coordinator

Arguably the most successful defensive coordinator in college football over the last several years, Venables has had multiple opportunities to become a college head coach.

He’s stayed loyal to Dabo Swinney and the Tigers program, though. 

However, should the NFL come calling, would he finally say yes?

Venables has produced a boatload of NFL draft picks since joining the Clemson coaching staff in 2012, including Dexter Lawrence, Christian Wilkins, Trayvon Mullen, Austin Bryant, Shaq Lawson and Vic Beasley.

The Tigers have been to the College Football Playoff multiple times, and their defense has been the shining star in games against Notre Dame in 2018 and Ohio State’s high-powered offense in 2017.

Clemson has finished in the top 10 in total defense six consecutive seasons and in the top five three straight years.

The 48-year-old Venables is the most surefire candidate in the college ranks to get an NFL coordinator job. 

But he’s also the most difficult to pry away from his current post.

Should he want to stay put, Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley and Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard stand out as other solid options in the college ranks.

Other notable college coordinators ready to make the leap or to return to the NFL include Greg Mattison (Ohio State), Andy Avalos (Oregon) and Greg Schiano (former Ohio State DC). 

More: Paul Pasqualoni Says Lions' Defense is "Very Sound and a Good Concept"