Matt Patricia: From the hot seat to NFL Coach of the Year?

Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

One NFL insider names the Detroit Lions’ Matt Patricia a long shot for NFL Coach of the Year

2020 figures to be a make-or-break year for Matt Patrica. Entering his third season as the head coach of the Detroit Lions, Patricia’s stint in Motown has been underwhelming.

After inheriting a Lions’ team in 2018 that had posted back-to-back 9-7 seasons, Patricia went about the business of changing the culture in the Motor City. That resulted in a 6-10 record during his first season in Detroit.

Last year was supposed to be better. But after losing starting quarterback Matthew Stafford for half the season due to injury, the Lions went on a nine-game losing skid, ending the year with a disappointing 3-12-1 record.

Lions’ ownership brought back both Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn for another season with a mandate for better results in 2020. That translated to playing meaningful games in the month of December as playoff contenders.

After two seasons together, there’s little evidence the duo of Quinn and Patricia can turn their three-win team from last year into a postseason threat. Yet, if they do, it could result in some hefty accolades for both whose jobs are seemingly on the line.

Here’s what ESPN’s Bill Barnwell wrote about Patricia after naming him his Tier 3 long shot for NFL Coach of the Year in 2020.

"“There’s probably a better chance of Patricia getting fired during the year than there is of the former Patriots assistant winning Coach of the Year. … If Patricia does lead [the Lions] to an unlikely divisional title after a 3-12-1 season in 2019, the history of the award suggests he would be among the favorites to win Coach of the Year.”"

For a head coach to be considered one of the worst in the league to suddenly being named NFL Coach of the Year is the kind of storyline movies are made from. And surely Lions’ fans are hoping for that kind of fairy tale turnaround.

The truth is, we don’t really know what this current team in Detroit is capable of. Before losing Stafford to injury, this group put together a solid start to last season. With early wins against the Los Angeles Chargers and Philadelphia Eagles, plus going toe-to-toe with the eventual Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs before losing in the final seconds showed the kind of promise the Lions’ possess.

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With fewer injuries and a bit of luck, the Detroit Lions could have fielded their turnaround last season. That we’ll never know. What we do know is that Matt Patricia has been tasked to mold this 3-12-1 squad into a playoff contender this year, regardless of the obstacles. And if the third-year head coach is able to do so, he’ll deserve all the accolades that come along with it.