Should Matt Patricia Get More Time?
Firing a head coach midway through his second season can be an overreaction in some instances.
But in the case of the 3-7-1 Detroit Lions and head coach Matt Patricia, it’s a justifiable and necessary reaction.
It’s been decades since the Lions were a relevant franchise in the NFL.
Despite finding success and multiple playoff berths under previous head coach Jim Caldwell’s tutelage, Detroit opted to move on from Caldwell and hire Patricia.
Coordinating the defenses in New England for many moons made Patricia seem like a home-run hire for general manager Bob Quinn, despite Patricia's lack of head coaching experience.
In the two years since his hiring, Patricia is 9-17-1, and he has a a winning percentage of .352.
By the end of Week 12 of Caldwell’s second season (2015), Detroit was a combined 15-12 under him and by the end of the season, a combined 18-14.
Ndamukong Suh left Detroit after Caldwell’s first season.
The veteran head coach’s defensive unit didn’t have franchise cornerstones at cornerback like Darius Slay. It also didn't have other big-money pieces, such as Pro Bowl defensive linemen Trey Flowers and Damon Harrison.
Quinn has missed more than he’s hit in the draft, but he’s invested in a crop of talent on defense for Patricia in free agency and via trades in an effort to revive a unit that at one point flourished under Caldwell.
And yet, here the Lions are, with the 29th-ranked total defense in the league after losing to the lowly Redskins that had just one win coming into the Week 12 matchup.
In a league where your head coach has to find a way to win, Patricia has only found new ways to lose.
The only argument left for the second-year head coach to keep his job is time.
Contrary to popular belief, moving on early from an NFL head man has proven to be a successful initiative over the last decade.
The 49ers fired two head coaches after a lone season on the job in consecutive seasons -- first with Jim Tomsula in 2015 and then with Chip Kelly in 2016.
Kyle Shanahan was hired to replace Kelly, and has been on the job ever since.
He has San Fran at 11-1 in his third season and with the best young core in football.
There's also the Seattle Seahawks that fired Jim Mora in 2009 after one season and hired former USC head man Pete Carroll.
Since, Carroll has led the Seahawks to seven playoff berths, four divisional championships, two conference championships and a Super Bowl ring during the 2013 season.
Most recently, the Cardinals fired Steve Wilks after one season and hired former Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury.
They won’t be a playoff team in 2019. However, after a 3-13 season under Wilks, Arizona has competed in all but one game, including two near-victories against the 11-1 49ers with rookie quarterback Kyler Murray.
And if the franchise believes internally that Patricia deserves more time, there’s some evidence showcasing that to be a bad idea, too.
The Jets kept Todd Bowles around for four seasons, and he won five or less games in his final three seasons.
Tampa Bay kept Dirk Koetter around for three seasons, and he never went to the playoffs. His third season was a 5-11 campaign.
Coming off the worst loss of his tenure to the barely-breathing Redskins, Patricia apologists will claim he simply needs more time.
The trends disagree.
If Patricia comes back for a third season, history tells us it will be his worst.
There’s nothing left to defend when it comes to the Patricia era in Detroit.
The Lions shouldn’t wait any longer. It’s time to move on.