The Detroit Lions’ coaching search added a layer of drama this week with their apparent top choice reportedly favoring the Big Apple.
Initial reports of the Detroit Lions coaching search had a clear favorite: current New England Patriots’ defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. Patricia is apparently a genius with an advanced degree in something harder than what your degree is in.
Lions fans around the world (okay, at least in the Mitten) have been drooling over his breaking down of cornerback Malcolm Butler’s Super Bowl-sealing interception on the goal line against the Seattle Seahawks. He of the bushy beard has been the toast of the Lions’ Twitter-universe.
Ah, it was good while it lasted.
News came out earlier this week that Patricia is the odds-on-favorite for the job… in New York. See, the Giants also have an opening for a new head coach. And who wouldn’t want the bright-lights and big city?
I, for one, wouldn’t. The Lions job is the better opening, and by a long shot. Take a look at the offensive side of the ball first, where the Lions are far and away the better roster.
The quarterback is better (today’s Matthew Stafford is better than Eli Manning, guys. Sorry. Eli’s not going back to four years ago. Don’t @ me). The receiving corps in Detroit is at least as good—and that’s giving the Giants a healthy Odell Beckham, Jr., under contract, happy, and playing well—and that might be a stretch, too.
Both teams have dumpster-fire offensive lines, but the Lions have some proven, young and/or in their prime talent that (hopefully) has been poorly coached. Taylor Decker was arguably the best rookie offensive lineman last year and played well after he returned from injury. T.J. Lang and Rick Wagner were lights out a year ago, but suddenly forgot how to either A.) block in the run game at all, or B.) stay healthy enough to serviceable.
The Giants have old guys on the down side of their careers, and were among the worst blocking units in the NFL. The only advantage might be among the running backs, where the Lions were pretty much the worst in the entire NFL—just below the Giants.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Giants might have a slight edge. Both teams were in the top ten in overall defense and passing defense, according to NFL.com. The Giants were slightly better in both categories.
The Lions’ “terrible” run defense was actually ranked 15th. Personnel-wise, the Giants have fewer holes to fill, but both team have loaded secondaries. The Lions ran into depth issues up front that hurt them in the run game as the season wore on, which accounts for the huge statistical difference.
Knowing that the defense has gaps might be a turn-off for a defensive mind like Patricia, right? Here’s the kicker, though (side bar: the Lions have the better kicker, too)—the Lions have nearly $50 million in cap space, more than double the cap space of the Giants (per OvertheCap.com).
If I’m a defensive guy, and I know I need to bring in some bodies, I’d prefer not to hamstring the rest of my lineup—I’d lean towards the team with more cap space.
Alas, Detroit Lions fans will have to sit in a holding pattern and wait until the Patriots are out of the playoffs to find out if Matt Patricia is their man or not. And, because it’s the Patriots, that might not happen until after Super Bowl.